Scheme aims to prevent children getting lost in shopping centres

SHOPPING centres are availing of a safety scheme aimed at preventing the trauma caused by parents becoming separated from their children.

Child Safe Zones were launched in Britain in 2003 and, in recent months, have spread to centres throughout Ireland, including Navan, Galway, Cork and Dublin.

The programme includes the distribution of paper wristbands which can be used to store parents’ contact numbers and worn by their children in the shopping centre.

In the event of a child getting lost, a member of staff in the centre can ring the contact number and reunite them with their parents.

Child Safe Zones also have a number displayed on shop doors and windows which parents can use to contact security staff if they lose a child.

It was first launched in Sussex, in May 2003.

“If a child gets lost they have the wrist band on them and we can phone the contact number,” said Anne McGrath of Merchants Quay Shopping Centre. “A lot of people are using it now.”

She estimates that a child gets lost in the centre “about once or twice a week” but that this was a more frequent occurrence in recent years. “Parents are so safe now with their children, they hardly ever let them out of their sight. But it’s worth having this.”

The Child Safe system advises parents to encourage children to stay close, use reins or wrist links, not to leave them in an unsupervised play area, write a contact number on a wristband or tag, carry an up-to-date photograph, and take note of the clothes the child is wearing.

Information: Visit www.childsafezones.co.uk

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