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Background checks to kerb child abuse incidents at restaurants

Terence Pillay chats to former Child Protection Unit officer, Marc Hardwick, about how we can better protect our children in public spaces, especially restaurants. 

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The recent incident of child abuse at the Dros in Pretoria has got parents on guard when taking their children out – especially to restaurants that have dedicated children’s play areas. Since the incident, many parents have expressed a reluctance to let their children go into these play areas.

Marc Hardwick of the Guardian says that parents are right to be paranoid when it comes to the safety of their children. It’s better to raise a pre-emptive measure than react after your child has been hurt, he says.

But what about the minders in these places? Are they and the rest of the staff properly vetted to ensure that they don’t have criminal records or better yet are not on the sex offenders register?

Marc says any place that is child-friendly or have staff that comes into contact with children should run stringent background checks on the employees. He says that according to South African law, if an establishment employs a person on the sex offenders register, who has access to children in that establishment, and they don’t declare it, the owner could face up to seven years in prison if he’s convicted of failing to make this known to patrons. 

Marc also advises that parents need to maintain stricter control of their children in public spaces, but says it’s really up to everyone to ensure that no harm comes to any child.

As a parent, how concerned are you when your child is in the play area of a restaurant?

You can email Terence Pillay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @terencepillay1 and tweet him your thoughts.  

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