Schools around the country opened their doors last week to welcome pupils for the last stretch of the year. Parents should take a few minutes to sit down and talk about safety concerns leading up to what is typically a season of increased criminal activity.
Here’s what you need to do:
Parents need to know where their children are at all times. It is your responsibility to be familiar with their friends, have contact details of their parents and to know what their daily activities are. With lots of sport in summer, you’ll need to make a note of late and unusual events and be on time to collect your children. If you can’t be there, make sure another family member or close friend is there.
A child who has low self-esteem cannot protect themselves. Listen carefully to your child’s fears and be supportive in all your discussions with them, replacing fear with knowledge.
Teach children of all ages to start making decisions so start with little ones early on so that they are comfortable with the bigger ones later. Teach them to trust their own feelings and instincts and assure them that they are right to say no if they are uncomfortable or feel that there is something wrong.
BUILD SUPPORT SYSTEMS
Children learn from your actions so be aware of what you do and how it might conflict with what you’re saying. They need to trust you if they’re going to be able to come to you for help.
CHOOSE SUBSTITUTE CAREGIVERS CAREFULLY
Interview and monitor babysitters, group leaders, youth pastors and other influential carers. Be alert to teenagers or adults who give your children inappropriate or expensive gifts…
PROTECT KIDS WHO ARE HOME ALONE
Set ground rules, display emergency numbers in a prominent place and allocate responsibilities that equip children to take preventative measures for their own security. Teach them to close and lock doors behind. Show them how to work the alarm and clearly indicate which button to use for emergencies. Teach them basic first aid and put bandages and plasters within reach.
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN
Discuss boundaries and teach them that nobody should approach them or touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Tell them that it is very important to tell you if someone oversteps.
Watch for changes in behaviour – they are signals that you need to sit down and talk to your child. Create a caring and loving atmosphere at home but don’t suffocate your children.
Rehearse safety situations with your child. Empower them with knowledge. Play the WHAT IF? game.
LET KIDS BE KIDS
Teach them how to look after themselves and show them that you trust them to do so. Don’t scare them so much that you take the fun out of being children.
Enjoy the last term and support your children through exams and with their emotional needs. It’s a stressful time for our children and our job is to protect and support them as much as we can.