on their journeys from school, or from a friend’s house, or from the mall. Here are our top tips for parents to guide you through discussions with your youngsters about keeping themselves safe when they are out and about:
- Be calm and reassuring. Children should learn to be cautious, alert, and prepared - not fearful. They are less apprehensive when they have the skills, information, and confidence they need to act on their own behalf.
- Teach children the buddy system. Children should learn that it is always safer to be with a friend or trusted adult than alone. If they do go out alone, remind them to always tell someone where they are going and what time they will return.
- Teach children that if they are worried or frightened, talk to a trusted adult. If that is not possible, to look for a mother with a child – she will be most likely to help. Talk about other trusted adults – policemen, teachers - adults who they know will offer support and advice and provide the help they need.
- Teach children telephone skills. Teach them yours or a trusted adult’s mobile phone number and to call 22 997 (Warsaw Police) or 112 (European general emergency number) for help. Consider putting these numbers on speed dial so they can make a call quickly if they need to. Teach them to keep mobile phones (and other valuables) out of view.
- Teach children to stick to well-lit areas where there are people around should they need help.
- Teach children to check with others first. Teach children to check with trusted adults before changing plans or going anywhere - even with adults the child knows.
- Teach children not to accept a lift from someone they have never met before, but to call someone to pick them up.
- Role-play with children. Just as children don’t learn to ride a bicycle by talking about it, they don’t learn safety skills without practice. Children learn by doing. They need to role-play and see how it feels to say “No” in difficult situations.
- Play the “What If” game and help the child think of responses to various situations. Choose real-life situations such as confronting a stranger while walking to school, getting separated in a crowded store, or playing in the front yard. “What if the school bus didn’t arrive on time...”. “What if you become separated from your friends….”
- Have children practice what they should say and do if they feel threatened. For instance, children should learn to yell in a loud voice, “This person is trying to take me. I need help!”
- Have children practice staying an arm’s length away from someone who approaches them.
- Have children practice ignoring strangers who ask for directions and walking away from them.
- Review and practice often. Children need to review safety skills often. Research shows that these skills need to be taught five to ten times a year. Review them during car rides and other moments together.
Assistant Head Safeguarding