Classrooms across the state are buzzing in excitement for the approaching school holidays. Constable Care Child Safety Foundation CEO David Gribble says that parents should not forget to talk to their kids about safety during the busy Christmas and New Year period. “The holiday season can mean big crowds, busy streets and broken routines. Don’t leave this holiday season to chance, make sure your kids know the safety rules.”
Safety on the roads
Christmas time means plenty of cars on the road rushing to get home, or off on a holiday. Don’t let your children be a holiday road toll statistic.
1. Walk together to teach the road rules. Go for a walk or ride around the neighbourhood together, reminding your child of the road rules as you go. Do they know what do at a pedestrian crossing? Do they know to keep to the footpath? Do they look both ways before crossing the street every time? A road safety quiz will help keep them engaged.
2. Stop, look, listen and think before your cross the road. This Constable Care adage is as relevant now as it was 28 years ago. Remind your child it isn’t enough to just look both ways. Can they hear a car coming? Is there a safer place to cross?
3. Roads are not playgrounds. Children should never play on roads – even quiet back streets. It doesn’t take much, a distraction or a speeding driver, for the day to end in injury or devastation.
Safety at the park
For older children and early teenagers, going to the local park or skate park with friends can be an exciting act of independence. Making sure they know these simple safety rules can help put your mind at ease.
1. Always let your parents know where you are going. Even if the park is just down the road. Remind your child that they must tell you, text, call to get approval whenever they leave the house. If they say they are going to the skate park, they must remain there or come home and not go elsewhere.
2. Stranger danger. The sad fact is that perpetrators of child abuse are much more likely to abuse children they know. However this does not mean all notions of ‘stranger danger’ go out the window. Remind your youngster that they should not go alone and always stick with a buddy or two. If they ever feel uncomfortable they should head to the nearest safe space, this could be home or a public shopping centre etc. When travelling encourage them to stick to clearly visible, public paths and not to take hidden shortcuts.
3. Take a mobile. If your child has a phone make sure it is fully-charged and has available credit.
The popularity of mobile devices means that it can be hard to make sure your child is being safe online. But with the right guidelines you can empower them to make safe choices.
1. Don’t give away personal details. You wouldn’t tell a stranger you met on the train your home address or phone number, so don’t do it online! Remind your child that even if the other person seems nice, they should say no to all requests for personal details or photos.
2. Check the privacy settings. Most social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will automatically set privacy settings to ‘public’. This means anybody can search through your child’s posts, photos and information at any time. It is much safer to set their privacy settings to ‘private’ or ‘friends only’.
3. Remind them that people can lie about who they are online. This can come as a surprise, especially to some younger teens. The profile picture may show someone your age, but it could be fake. Remind your child to only ever accept friend requests from people they know. Better yet, Facebook allows you to adjust your settings so only friends of friends can even send you a friend request.
Whilst babies and young children should never be left alone, leaving older children at home whilst you are out is always a challenging decision. It’s important to set the boundaries and guidelines of what is acceptable and to ensure they are safe whilst you are gone.
1. Make sure you know where your kids are and what they are doing. Set boundaries on what the ‘home alone’ rules are including who can come over and what they can and can’t do.
2. Make sure you child knows who to contact. Make sure you children know the contact details of yourself, safe neighbours or a relative in case of an emergency or they need to make changes to your agreed plan.
3. Don’t overdo it. Even a mature, responsible child shouldn’t be left at home too much. Consider other options such as programs offered by youth organisations, community centres and sporting groups to help keep you child connected and involved over the holiday period.
Safety at events
Carols-by-candlelight and local festivals; these fun summer events often come with large crowds. Losing sight of your child at a large event can be heart-stopping. However a good safety plan can make sure your day doesn’t end in tears.
1. Take a photo of your child before you leave for the event. “What is your child wearing today?” So many people struggle to answer this vital question when gripped with the panic of a lost child. Taking a photo of their outfit before you leave for an event will help make the reuniting process smoother.
2. Make sure your child knows your phone number. When a child has lost their family this can be the single quickest way of finding their family. Try making a game of it and quizzing them in the weeks leading up to the event.
3. Look for a Constable Care Lost Child Point. A staple at many Perth events, these points are perfect family meeting points. Be sure to direct your child to meet you there if they are lost. They also provide kids with ID wristbands to write mum and dad’s contact details on and will liaise with event security to reunite lost kids with their families.
Christmas is a time of celebration and being with family and love-ones. Make sure the holiday period and the start to 2018 is a happy and safe one. Fun and excitement can quickly turn into tragedy that can often be avoided by simply taking the time to talk with your kids and setting the boundaries for this holiday season.
For more information on child safety, or to enquire about a Constable Care incursion or excursion for your child’s school call 9272 0000 or visit cccsf.org.au