Make your child ‘Safety Smart’- Tips on personal safety.
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Apr 13, 2013
Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless. ~Author Unknown
I recently came across the quote above and it instantly struck a chord with me. We are constantly bombarded by messages on the television about threats on individual safety, which makes us wonder at how safe our children are. Helping them understand the simple rules of safety, in a calm manner is something that works most of the time. A child may be explained to calmly about the existence of people who may want to hurt or harm them. While we are explaining to them our demeanour needs to be calm as If we sound anxious when talking about safety issues, they will pick up on the anxiety that could make them scared and ultimately lead to fear. The important fact of the matter is that instead of instilling fear within them, we need to create awareness.
My ever so friendly 3-year-old daughter will walk up and talk to anyone who smiles at her. This leaves my heart racing at times. It may be rather difficult for a child as young as her to understand that a stranger can harm or that a person who is dressed in nice clothes, stretching his/her hand out with a piece of chocolate can also whisk her away in matter of seconds. It makes me shudder to have a thought such as this, but it also makes me realize the importance of being prepared by educating my children.
Here is how I explain or answer my daughter’s questions about safety:
Child-Mummy, who is a stranger?
‘A stranger is anyone you don’t know- on the road, in the bus, in a party.’Children may think of a stranger as someone who can harm them. This mayscare and discourage them from talking to any unfamiliar person. ‘You know, strangers are not people who always harm; they are simply people we do not know.But there may be some strangers who may want to harm you hence you need to be careful’.
Child-How will I know if someone wants to hurt me?
‘Now that is a little tricky! You should never leave my or your daddy’s side and go to another person. If someone is calling you, then you must tell us. In case mummy or daddy is not around for example; when you are in a birthday party or an outing from school, then you must know the difference between the good touch and the bad touch’. I then go on to explain about theareas of her body, which cannot be touched by anyone. I show her how a casual hand shake, a playful pat on the back is friendly and finebut a touch around the chest area or around the thighs are wrong and she needs to run away immediately to someone safe. An older child may be encouraged to follow their own instincts and not trusting people, who they feel uncomfortable around.
However, research has shown that a child is likely to be harmed more by an acquaintance than a stranger, as it is easier for a child to trust a familiar face.
Child-Who are the safe people Mummy?
‘If you ever find yourself separated from me or your school friends in a public place, you can look for people such as security guards, cashiers or people in uniforms in stores, policemen and your teacher(if you are at an outing from school)’. If Children can be made aware of the people they can approach if lost, separated from an adult or if they feel they are being followed or watched by a stranger then they are much more confident of themselves (when they are not accompanied by their parents).
Child- why do you attach this small piece tag onto my clothes every time I go out?
‘I do this to ensure your safety when in a crowded public place.This tag has your name, address and my phone number and is attached to the inside of your dress/t-shirt. If you are separated from me or any adult accompanying you, you can approach the safe people I told you about and show the tag. They will get in touch with us to bring you home’.
Child- Can I take sweets or gifts from someone I don’t know?
‘It is better not to take something from someone you don’t know. They may give you magic sweet and if you eat it you may get hurt; remember snow white, she took the apple from an old lady who she did not know and the apple ended up hurting snow white. You must politely say no and walk away from that person’.
Children between the ages of 3 years to 7 years may not understand the concept of kidnapping and physical abuse. When explaining to my child, I avoid using words or phrases, which may frighten her. Some examples are below:
•They may hit/punch you,
•Pull you by your hair or drag you,
•Forcefully take you to a dark, lonely place.
I try to use the following gentle/reassuring words instead:
•They may try to hurt you,
•They will try to take you away from mummy
•Mummy / daddy will be very sad if someone tries to hurt or take you away,
•You are a very brave girl,
•You can shout and scream if someone tries to hurt you,
•Mummy/daddy will always look after you and listen to you.
Helping an older child understand the importance of personal safety.
5 years - Children as young as 5 years may be taught to memorize their home address, phone numbers and mobile numbers of their parents. An easy way to help them memorize is by adding a tune and teaching the numbers like a song.
7 years- Children beyond the age of 7 years may be explained to in more detail. They may be told that there are people, who may want to take them away or kidnap for some money or want to hurt them by touching their private parts, which is inappropriate and it needs to be reported to an adult immediately. Words of reassurance and encouraging them to share details about their activities on a daily basis will improve communication, increase self-confidence and create awareness.
8 years and over-In addition to knowing their home address and numbers, children above the age of 8 yearsmay also be taught to memorize emergency numbers, such as 100 for Police, 108 for a medical emergency and 102 for fire emergency. They may save these important numbers along with the mobile numbers of their parents, neighbours or close relatives on speed dial. If ever they feel threatened or in danger, they may call the emergency numbers without hesitation.
Teenager-Teen years come with a whole new perspective to life and initial steps to independence. Most teenagers would like their own private space away from the interference of adults. But as parents, we need to ensure that they are aware on how to keep themselves safe. You may help your teenager understand the importance of sharing details oftheir whereabouts by keeping you updated with the following:
•Take permission from you before going anywhere
•Let you know as to who is accompanying them.
•Mutually agree to a time when they need to be back home by.
•Keep you informed with regards to any change in plans.
Keeping our children safe is our top priority. We may help them understand the importance of following the safety rules and knowing how to act if they feel threatened,instead of worrying or feeling scared. Thiswill help in protecting them.Practicing personal safety skills with your child, will to help increase their confidence and competence. Games and role play to enact situations mentioned above may help children to get a clearer idea of what to do if faced with any of the circumstances. Reminding and reinforcing will only make things clearer for them
Let’s help our children stay safe!
| Jul 15, 2014
thanks a lot for such informative blog, awareness is important.
| Oct 10, 2013
Awareness creating blog.
| Sep 04, 2013
It's important to know by every parent... good one
| Jul 09, 2013
Thank you for the feedback. We must prepare our children for the worst, even though we do not want them ever to face such situations.
| Jul 06, 2013
Thank you Anurima, for such useful information, as I was also in dilemma about explaining child safety issues to my little one, Thanks for such a great info.....
| Jun 06, 2013
Good information... I would like to share an incident that I heard through word of mouth... a child who was leaving from school, was waiting for her parents to come and pick her up. But some other person came to the girl and said her parents have sent him to pick her up from school. The girl immediately asked the person what is the code word.. and when the person did not understand nor reply, the girl ran back to the safety of school and the school arrested the person who was trying to kidnap the girl. I think we too should learn from this incident and teach our kids a code word which only the parents and the child should know. This incident happend in Canada.
| May 05, 2013
Well said & shared Anurima, small but very meanigful, life saving things, these are so easily capable of being implied. Thanks for coming in with your precious inputs, appreciated !!
| Apr 22, 2013
very nice tips.. sometimes it is tough to make kids understand what is good or bad for them...
| Apr 16, 2013
Thank you for your kind commment Swati :) I agree, personal safety is more important now than it has ever been before.
| Apr 16, 2013
good blog, in the world that we live in today ... information like this is very important. thank you