There is an innate innocence and charming curiosity in children that brings much joy and laughter, some of the many pleasures and treasures of being a parent, nurturing and watching little ones grow, learn and develop. Yet is also these very traits of innocence and curiosity that expose children to danger and cause the greatest consternation for their guardians. As every parent knows within only all too well, there are those out there who would expose and exploit this innocence and curiosity for their own depraved, criminal and evil ends.
The Child Safety Campaign, a subsidiary of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, recently conducted a social experiment at the Sahara Centre in Sharjah to highlight a new campaign entitled Your Child Your Responsibility. In coordination with Sharjah Police, the experiment was meant to test just how well children heeded often-repeated warning not to talk or take gifts from strangers. Some 26 children were approached. If there is a bright side, 13 of the children could not be lured away by offers of sweets and gifts. But 13 others failed the test. In their childlike state of innocence and have surely heard warnings, they were lured away from their parents. For the record, all the parents who participated were asked permission in advance, and the encounters were secretly filmed.
The exercise should be a wakeup call for every parent to be on constant guard against those who would lure small ones away. According to the International Labour Organisation, some 1.2 million children are being trafficked at any time around the world. No matter what we would like to think, stranger-danger is very real.