Monday, May 14, 2012

Safety first...My story

Many parents cant help but think about "worst case scenarios".  You instinctively want to protect your children.  You start teaching children about avoiding strangers "stranger...danger", you tell them to avoid sharp things and fires, ban them from going out alone, etc...

Tonight I want to share a real story.  I hesitated to share the story, but I decided to go ahead anyway.  I was in Avenues mall today, and I saw a distraught boy (looks about 2.5-3 years old) running aimlessly, screaming for his mother, with a face full of tears and snot. Initially I saw some people around him, he broke my heart, but I thought perhaps he was tantruming and I did not want to interfere with someone else's child unless I have been asked.  My sister then pointed out that the guy following him is security, but he was just walking/running behind him, but not doing anything else.  The boy avoided people who tried to catch him, and people just gave up and walked away.  I asked the security (to get confirmation that he is indeed lost) and the security said yes and added that he did not know what to do with the boy.  I held the boy and tried to talk to him, but he was hysterical.  Instinctively, I took the boy and sat him down on my lap on the floor of Avenues Mall talking to him, shushing him and rocking him gently...  People gathered, some gave tissues, and I asked if anyone knew the mother.  Some people directed us towards a certain part of the mall.  The child eventually calmed down and agreed to come with me and hold my hand so we can look for his mother.  We eventually found the mother, who did not seem concerned and coldly asked the child "where have you been?"...

OK... Why did I tell you this story?  Not because I want to talk about cold and uncaring mothers, or the fact that we have a HUGE problem in education, and that this child could have been abducted while it took us over 15 minutes to calm this child down and find his mum...  I wanted to mention the security aspect of this story.

While I held this child I asked the security guard (Kuwaity) why are you not announcing the missing child, he answered that they did not have such services!!! They have speakers for music and the call for prayer, but they cannot use this for an announcement about a missing child?

Next request, I asked the security guard to please contact someone or head over to the area that the boy was seen running from and ask loudly if anyone's missing a child.  He said that he told some people to ask but nothing happened.  So basically, I am on the floor with a hysterical child and NO SECURITY MEASURE WAS IMPLEMENTED.  Mothers and fathers, PLEASE be careful, know your surrounding and know what services and security measures are available for you.

Some simple tips:

  • Young children should be provided with their contact information as a badge or around the neck as a way to ensure your child is safe.  
  • Older kids, establish a meeting point in case you are lost.  
  • Older children also need to know your phone number and address by heart.  We should not rely on the security in malls, as they are more likely trained to handle some fights and arguments, rather than deal with scared and lost children.  
  • Help you child recognize the security guard by uniform or badge, as they could allow them to call you.  Security in different places can be better than I have seen this morning.
  • In large play areas ask about the security measures, and find out what they are allowed to do and are able to provide.  DO NOT ASSUME.


  1. You should escalate this to the security offices at the malls

  2. That's a good idea, training the security guards on how to handle lost children. But I doubt any mall would be open to that idea. My opinion? It should be mandatory, just as First Aid for all security personnel who work with children. Too expensive and too idealistic, but I am hopeful:)

  3. Latifa Al-HajeriMay 19, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    I had a completely different thing happen to me about a year ago in avenues as well.
    I actually had a man touch and pull me slightly and whisper that he would offer money if i spent the night with him. i went over to the a Kuwaiti security guard pointing out the man (who was still staring and not even moving from his place) they security guard said he was sorry and couldn't move from his post or do anything, he would not even take me to my car just in case that man would follow.

    About the mother, it really breaks my heart see those mothers being blessed with just an amazing gift and, i wont say they dont deserve it (because who am i really to judge?) but should have so much more tenderness and love. i have become immune to their cold nature.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Latifa. This is atrocious!!! I cannot believe that the security guard didn't do anything... I am sorry you had to go through such an awful experience. I would contact the police in such an instance and not rely on a security guard...