As the school year comes to an end, and summer holidays start, it’s time to talk about street proofing. The following are some guidelines that may assist you and your child to reduce opportunities for criminal behaviour:
Know who your child plays with and where they go. This includes keeping a list of their friends’ addresses and phone numbers.
Do not leave your child in unsupervised locations, such as cars, parks, public washrooms, arenas, plazas, etc.
Tell your child never to go anywhere with a stranger, not to talk to strangers, and never take anything from them.
Encourage your child to use a buddy system instead of walking alone.
Familiarize your child with tactics that are commonly used to lure a child, such as: “Can you come and help me look for my lost puppy?”, “Do you want to see my new puppy?”, and “Would you like some candy?”
You also have to teach them what a “safe stranger” is in case they need help. A safe stranger includes a police officer, a cashier, a fire fighter, etc. Teach your child where to go and how to get help. Go with them on their regularly travelled routes and find out where any pay phones are, and show your child how to use 9-1-1 for emergencies.
Develop a “what if” game for the kids to get them thinking of how they would respond if they felt afraid.
Your child’s body is private. Tell your child that no one may touch the area that his or her bathing suit covers. If someone tries to touch them in those areas, they should say “NO” and advise you immediately.
Teach your child to talk to you immediately when someone does anything that makes them feel strange or uncomfortable. Listen when your child is trying to tell you something that bothers them and provide them with support and understanding.
Watch for changes in your child’s behaviour as it could indicate something is wrong i.e.: hesitation to go with certain people; loss of appetite; withdrawal or depression; aggressiveness; etc.
Go with your child to their destination, and meet them when they return.
If you can’t meet your child as planned, have it pre-arranged that, in emergency situations, a specific person your child already knows will pick them up.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reminds all members of the public to be aware of their personal safety, and that of children, at all times. Children should not be left unattended anywhere, for any length of time, when out in public. The OPP’s website, www.opp.ca, contains a number of useful resources, tips, and links.