Imagine with me, you are walking through the doors of a shopping mall and a middle aged lady confronts you. Worried, anxious, frightened and sweating: “have you seen my son?!” She gasps for breathe as she tries to explain; “he’s five, he’s wearing a blue jeans, and.. and.. and…” her voice trembles as she tries to remember what shirt he was wearing. She pushes the air downward with her palm to show you his about 2-3 feet height. You are bewildered, confused. Alarmed! You shake your head negatively, you cannot speak, wondering what’s going on and how she’d expect you to know her son and have seen him? You are not helping her… She runs in another direction explains to someone else, throws away her shopping bag, this time she’s explaining to a mall attendant with a walkie-talkie, that she cannot find her son….
She’s confused. So many times, we go shopping in these big malls, we easily loose sight of our children in those thousands of aisles. We are in-between picking items from the shelves and peripherally keeping an eye on our children. These boys and girls run through the aisles busting with energy and sometimes hiding, waiting to be found. It’s an opportunity for them to play and let loose stored up energy to eat up those large mall spaces that you do not have at home. Some of them are most expressive at the malls, they tell you stuff they neither tell you at home or in the car.
If your children are like mine, very expressive and can strike a conversation innocently with strangers, you don’t want them out of your sight!. At Michael Angelo hotel in SA, while at breakfast, my children walked into an elderly man in landing area and within ten minutes of conversation, the man knew my age, my wife’s, where they were born and their hobbies. Children are pure and innocent and they always expect every adult would be like their parents. Wrong! They like the ambience of big malls and hotels and they can easily disappear on you. Go with them to the bathroom. Don’t be too busy shopping and let a five or six years walk to the bathroom and come back looking for you!
It has been reported that nearly 7,000 children have been featured on Wal-Mart bulletin boards and about 5,300 of them have been recovered! That leaves about 1,500 or more and counting not found. (https://corporate.walmart.com/_news-archieve/)
While you are at the mall shopping, some other mischievous people are there to shop for children. I keep wondering how they are able to abduct these children undetected. Don’t these malls have live cctv cameras that swipe the aisles? Do these children not struggle, scream or shout? Or are they enticed with toys or sedated and they innocently follow trusting everyone as always. Perhaps too much time is lost between when the child is missing and when reported.
I saw the movie kidnap, an American abduction thriller where Harry Berry’s son was kidnapped at a park and she fought with her life and ended up rescuing her son and other children. Mel Gibson also typified this in a movie called ransom where his son was also abducted from a park, but this time ransom was asked. While the boys were rescued in the two movies, I cannot help thinking about the trauma they might have faced and how they may be scarred for life.
While at the shopping malls with our children, let us always ensure that our children are either in the cart we are pushing or let them push the cart for us or hold hands. Give your children shopping mall lessons/ very strict instructions not to run off as they nearly always would. No shopping is worth looking for your son or daughter at the end of the shopping. Malls management should also have sweeping cctv survellance cameras around the clock on very aisle online realtime, monitoring customers as they come and go and not just watching out for shoplifting.