Taking children out is often fun and essential for their happiness as well as their growth and development. Shopping malls have noticed the importance of accommodating children and have set up children playgrounds. The security of children, therefore, should be taken seriously. The management of malls contracts private security firms to ensure the safety of their customers. The children sample of the customer population, however, is unique (Bell, 1995). While adult customers could actually evade certain security threats, children are often helpless. This paper looks into the security of children in shopping malls, identifies imminent crimes and hazards that pose threats to their safety and lastly designs measures that would prevent the identified threats from materializing.
While it is common for children to go to the malls with their parents or nannies, sometimes children have to separate them. They join their fellow children, mingle with them and have fun. Sometimes due to large populations of children that show up in such places, it becomes hard to keep an eye on ones child. They often disappear in the sea of their peers. While the process of admitting children into and releasing them from the playgrounds may be systematic, there are still imminent threats to the safety of children. The full focus of the security guards assigned to the playgrounds may not necessarily be on children the whole time. This is because they perform many duties including giving out directions to lost customers, which may distract them. Consequently, they may fail to notice the anomalies which occur in a blink of an eye.
The security of these children is often threatened in different ways. The hazards may be to their health, their physique and life in general. On individual levels, children face threats of accidents, infection, bullying, kidnapping and getting lost. Additionally, children face security threats to which the adults too are exposed in these environments. These include terror attacks, fires, theft, and riots.
Children playgrounds have machines with moving parts which can fail or become faulty. The result would be accidents or fatalities. In the sea of children, it is never clear just how healthy they all are. In that multitude, there are all kinds of children some of which are bullies. These are a threat to the psychological safety of other children. The slides, swings and so on could in case of an accident hurt or even maim children in some extreme cases. With distracted security guards and outnumbered playground attendants, some children could easily sneak out of the playground. This happens when they are bullied or are just bored. In case their parents or nannies are not nearby, they decide to explore the mall in the hopes of having fun. The end result is that they lose their ways and get lost. This is also where they fall into the hands of dangerous people like kidnappers.
Children are also threatened in the same capacity as adults by terrorists. They make good targets for terrorists to inflict massive damage. This is because when children are killed it is a generation killed. With the advanced technology, it is no surprise to find a child walking around with the latest iPhone. With such expensive items, they also become victims of theft. Even among these innocent young ones exists a wild character that could easily trigger a false alarm. As a result, they would be thrown into confusion and riots, which could lead to rampages, ending up in some being hurt or trampled on the floor.
These threats and hazards can, however, be prevented from coming about. To begin with, the design of the playground should not permit unauthorized entry or exit. This would help curb looming kidnapping. Also, only authorized personnel who are the attendants and the security guards should be granted access to the playground. The attendants and guards should always wear their identification badges. Supervisors of the attendants and the guards should regularly check in to ensure that everything is in place.
The playground should have emergency medical doctors on standby to attend to an injured child. The investors also, apart from putting up metal detectors, should put up digital medical scanners at the entry points. The doctors, therefore, should operate quick digital medical scan on each admitted child so that no patient zero gets among the healthy ones. This would also be effective in stopping bio-terrorism from happening.
The mall areas should be marked legibly and conspicuously to help parents trace their missing children and lost children assemble in safe parts of the mall as they wait to be picked. The security guards should also be so vigilant that they dont let a lonely child walk away without establishing their whereabouts. This way, the already lost children could be saved before they go too far.
Every point in the mall should be under surveillance at all times. Places exempted due to privacy reasons like the washrooms must be assigned guards and cleaners at all times. This would help stop a kidnapping incident before it happens or even when it is ongoing. Most abduction cases happen in washrooms and blind spots. Therefore, the security must ensure that all blind spots are identified and covered in the surveillance system.
At the playground, only the registered adults should be allowed to pick the respective children with strictly no leniency. Also, the national government must realize that these shopping malls could be targets for terrorists. In their roles of protecting citizens, they should, therefore, deploy law enforcement to these places too (Mirgani, 2017).
Bell, M. C. (1995). Crime prevention in a shopping mall.
Mirgani, S. (2017). Target markets: international terrorism meets global capitalism in the mall. Bielefeld: Transcript.
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