Hi Dan, we have two police columns this week. This one and another from Halifax police on page 7.
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Here we are again! Parents and children are getting ready for the beginning of another school year. This is a busy time of year for parents and students alike; however it is a perfect time to discuss street safety with your children. HRM Partners in Policing want parents to talk about the three P’s of Street Smarts. PROACTIVE, PLANNING and PROVIDING.
PLANNINGfor safety. Ultimately, it is up to parents to decide what age to start “street proofing” their children, but even very young children should know their last name, the names of their parents, and the community in which they live. As children grow older, they should be taught additional details like their civic address and phone number. This should be memorized. There should also be no outside visible signs of their name, address or phone number on kitbags or clothing.
Of course, “street proofing” a child is about more than making sure the child knows what to do. Parents need to take PROACTIVE steps to ensure their children are safe. When the child is out playing, parents need to know who they are playing with, where they will be and when they will be back. Parents should keep contact lists of their children’s friends, including phone numbers and addresses. Kids walking to school should use a buddy system, and for younger children taking the bus, parents or guardians should be waiting with them at the bus stop in the morning, and meeting them there at the end of the day. It is also a good idea for parents to know their neighbours to ensure they are looking out for your children and in turn, you can do the same for them.
The old adage “Stranger Danger” has been discussed in schools and homes around HRM for years. It is still a good strategy to tell your child to “Never talk to strangers”. PROVIDING information to our children about who a stranger is, and what to do if they feel threatened by a stranger, gives them a plan. Have you worked on a “code word” to make sure that the person has been deemed safe? If the stranger continues to approach the child and does not know the code word, teach them to run, scream, yell, and fight – anything that draws attention to what’s going on and encourages someone else to intervene. When possible, children should be taught to travel in groups, and to stay away from isolated areas like dark alleys, unattended parking lots, or unsupervised wooded areas, especially if they’re alone. They should avoid taking short cuts on their way to or from school, and they need to understand the importance of reporting anything suspicious right away.
Halifax District RCMP and Halifax Regional Police have school liaison programs at schools across HRM. Schools are assigned liaison officers who attend the school to provide educational awareness and deliver safety programming to students. They also provide guidance and direction to students, parents and teachers. The School Liaison Officers can give parents advice, and help them answer some of the tricky questions kids may have.
By being PROACTIVE, PLANNING and PROVIDING information can go along way is keeping our children street smart.
For more information, contact your local police agency or check outdeal.org.This is a great website run by kids and the RCMP.