Crime Prevention & Safety for Individuals : Safety for Children & Teens: Bullying - Age 8-10 | Bullying - Age 11-18 | Bullying - Advice for Parents
Safety for Children and Teens
Show your child how to dial 9-1-1. Most cities send the police whether or not a request is made, so let your child know this is for emergencies only and not a game.
Teach your children what the 9-1-1 emergency system is and how they should use it in an emergency. Points to review with children are:
- tell the operator what the emergency is
- give your full address, phone number and name
- emergency medical, fire or police personnel are being sent to you even though you are still talking to the operator
- stay on the line with the 9-1-1 operator until they tell you to hang up
- the 9-1-1 service is for emergencies - it is important to teach your child not to play with or misuse 9-1-1
Bullying has been in the news more than ever lately, with several high profile and tragic incidents bringing a lot of attention to the subject. Whether you are being bullied, or you are the parent of a child being bullied, or perhaps you are the one bullying, you'll find advice on what to do here:
The online world is made up of a wide array of people, most of whom are decent, but there are always individuals who are rude, exploitative and even dangerous. Children need to be taught about both the benefits and the dangers of the Internet.
Some Risks to Children
- a child may be exposed to material that is sexual, violent, or hateful in nature, or encourages activities that are dangerous or illegal
- while online, a child may provide information that could put them or their family at risk; in some cases, paedophiles have used e-mail or other internet services to gain a child's confidence, and arrange a face-to-face meeting
- a child may encounter e-mail or other messages that are harassing, demeaning, or belligerent in nature
- a child could do something that has negative legal or financial consequences, such as giving out a parent’s credit card number or doing something that violates another person’s rights
How Parents Can Minimize the Risks
- Set reasonable rules and guidelines for your children when they use the computer. Discuss these rules so that they are clearly understood, and post them near the computer as a reminder. Remember to monitor and enforce their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. Make the computer a family activity, and keep it in a place where you can keep an eye on what is happening, such as in a family room, rather than your child’s bedroom. Get to know their "online friends" just as you get to know all of their other friends.
- Remember that anything that is posted in a chat room or on a bulletin board is there for everyone to see. Never give out identifying information—home address, school name, telephone number, or picture—in these venues, and make this very clear to your children. Consider using a pseudonym for chartrooms and bulletin boards – most people do this to protect their privacy. If you want to give out personal information via e-mail, make sure it is someone you can trust.
- If you do not already know how to use the computer and the Internet, you should take a course to become familiar with it. Many courses are offered specifically for parents, so they can learn how to monitor what their children are doing on the Internet.
- Never allow your child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission. If a meeting is arranged, make the first one in a public spot, and be sure to accompany your child.
- Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable – simply ignore them and move on. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing, of a sexual nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service provider and ask for their assistance.
- Remember that people online may not be who they seem – you cannot see or hear them, so "12-year-old boy" could in reality be a 40-year-old man. Remember also that not everything you read online may be true, whether it’s an offer that’s "too good to be true", or information on a topic of interest.
Effective parental influence is a key to gang prevention. It is important for parents to trust their own instincts. If you feel something is wrong with your child, it probably is. This instinct can be an early warning signal to work on prevention.
Parents not only influence their own children’s choice to join a gang, they can also be agents of prevention in the neighbourhood. Parents can successfully change attitudes in the community by working together as a team. Most important, they can create a community-wide attitude that rejects gang-related behaviour.
Many parents have developed effective ways to keep their family unit strong and help their children resist the allure of gang membership. The following steps can help prevent gang involvement:
- talk with your children about alcohol, drugs and gangs – they need accurate, factual information
- be involved with your children in healthy, creative activities, such as hobbies, sports, school and community events
- arrange for activities for after school hours; children regularly left alone are often bored and with a lack of supervision have a greater tendency to become involved in gangs, or other negative activities
- have a tolerance for mistakes or failure, and be supportive; use positive re-enforcement, rather than punishment when possible
- know where your children are, what they are doing, and who their friends are; consider setting and enforcing a reasonable curfew
- communicate regularly with parents of your children’s friends
- listen to what your children say and what their concerns are; good communication will give them the confidence to talk to you about anything
- encourage your children to get involved in community building projects; when they help build up a community, they are less likely to damage or deface it
- set clear limits that define what is safe and acceptable and what is not; discipline should always be consistent and fair, and it is important to set a good example
- learn about gang and drug activity in your community, including finding out how gang members dress and speak, their behaviour and activities
Strangers and Safety
Infants and Very Small children
- never leave your child alone, especially in a car
- always watch your child while in a public area
- be aware of the people around you, and if anyone is paying extra attention to your child
- teach your children that a stranger is anyone they don’t know, and that even someone who is friendly is a stranger; if a stranger touches them or tries to take them somewhere against their will, they should scream, kick, and yell - this applies to people they know, as well, as it is more common for children to be victimized by someone they know than a stranger
- discuss safety regularly with your children, so they are comfortable with these issues, and know what to do; you want to educate, not scare them
- it is important to talk to your children without scaring them, or live in fear of people and society; remember that most people are good
- teach your child who is a stranger, and what personal space is; they should learn that what they can do with friends and relatives they cannot do with strangers:
- hug a friend / relative, but don’t hug a stranger
- eat food from a friend / relative, but don’t accept food from a stranger without permission
- hold hands with friend / relative, but don’t hold hands with a stranger
- make sure your child knows never to enter the house or car of a stranger, and that when they are at home, never to let a stranger into the house
- get to know the parents of your child’s friends; keep up to date on this as your child grows and makes new friends
- do not write your child’s name on the outside of clothing or bags; this would allow a stranger to know your child’s name
- have a secret word (be creative and find something unusual) that only family members know; it is used if you need to have another person pick up your child so that your child can verify that the person is safe - they should not be afraid to ask for the word from the person picking them up
- teach your child how and when to dial 911 and how to make collect calls; your child should also know his or her home address, phone number, and cellular number
- listen to what your children say; if they do not want to be with someone, or do not like their babysitter, find out why
- teach your child that if they get lost in a mall or other public place, they should go directly to a cashier or to find a clerk; if none are around, they should find a woman with children and ask her for help
- make sure your child knows his/her complete name, address and telephone number with area code, as well as your full name (and cellular/pager number) so that you can be contacted if they get lost; also teach your child not to give out personal information like their home phone number and address to a stranger without permission
- if your child finds themselves in a dangerous situation, tell them they should yell for help ("This is not my mom / dad!") and run to a store or to the house of someone they trust; make sure your child knows never to run into a lonely, dark, or uninhabited area
- teach them to never walk or bike alone, day or night – use a buddy system; if they need to use a public restroom, never let them go in alone
- use the "after dark rule" – when the sun goes down, they come inside
- if they are approached by a stranger, on foot or in a car, they should keep their distance, and run away if necessary; teach your child which houses in your neighbourhood are safe, and where they can go in case of an emergency
- teach them to be aware of their surroundings, and if they notice someone following them, they should cross the street, and head for a crowded area, or a house that they know is safe
- always tell them, or a family member where you will be, and how you can be reached
- teach them to avoid alleys, poorly lit and lonely or deserted streets
- know with whom your child keeps company and what they are up to
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has great advice for keeping children and teens safe, both online and in the real world.
Find Me ID App
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has a free app to help find missing or lost children.
The app allows parents to store current photographs and will remind parents to update their child's information as they grow.
The information is easily accessed on a smartphone and is password protected.