PERSONAL Safety

How do you explain intuition? The little voice in your head or that feeling in your tummy that suggests something isn’t quite right? This can be really hard to try and articulate to a small child however if they can learn to rely on their instincts then as parents we can feel comfortable that we are part way there in helping them make the best safety choices. Sometimes there isn’t always a clear cut right or wrong answer. 

With stranger danger being such a widely advertised issue and in recent years bullying both on and offline becoming a challenge as well, we hope that the pages in this section direct you to some websites where you and your child can at least have a discussion about these issues and help them develop a radar for that ‘feeling in their tummy’. At the end of the day regular communication with your child is the first step in identifying any of these issues.

PERSONAL Safety

Resources

BUILDING CONFIDENCE

It’s heartbreaking to think that your child could even witness bullying much less be subjected to it. However unfortunately in today’s society it seems to be all too common. According to recent research conducted by the Federal Government one in four children in Australian schools are bullied so it is important as parents we can talk to our children about this issue and have some tools to deal with it. An obvious goal is to try and reverse the culture of bullies that does exist and will most likely exist for some time, but while it does exist we can if nothing else encourage our children to be courageous. Studies have shown that if a bystander intervenes quickly the victim is less likely to be bullied. So encourage your child to not only not stand up to bullies but stand up for others to.

  • Talk to your child and actively listen to them, hear them.
  • Remember bullies want a reaction so you have two choices ignore or give them a response they were not expecting.
  • Try to stay calm and let you child know that you will help them. Negative comments won’t help the situation.
  • Practice banter and comebacks and work at extending and developing your child’s social network – not forcing it but taking advantage of opportunities when they arise.
  • Guide children but allow them to handle normal playground conflicts and discuss managing emotions and managing anxiety.
  • Remove baits for bullies. Unless your child has a rock solid self esteem leave their bright green fluro pants at home.

bULLYING

We’ve gather some sites we feel provide some valuable strategies for dealing with bullying and helping your child address this issue should they come across it.

STRANGER DANGER

‘Stranger Danger’ is better referred to as a small part of teaching children protective behaviours as 85 per cent of danger or abuse to children occurs with someone known to the child or trusted by the child. 

STRANGER DANGER

‘Stranger Danger’ is better referred to as a small part of teaching children protective behaviours as 85 per cent of danger or abuse to children occurs with someone known to the child or trusted by the child. The Protective Behaviours Organisations have undertaken work for many years to protect children from all dangers, and help them to be safe in all environments. As such protective behaviour should focus on stranger danger, predators, relatives or friends and Internet or online risks.

The aim is to teach children to be safe, to be aware of predatory strangers, and to be self protective. Teaching protective behaviours or ‘stranger danger’ is a delicate balance of raising awareness, without unnecessarily alarming children, or paralysing them with fear. It is equally important to emphasise that the majority of adults are caring, loving and responsible–not ‘bad people’, to globally fear.

As such, a typical child response that a stranger is a nasty, bad person shows their immature naivety or lack of understanding. A typical predator will likely be dressed in friendly clothes, be funny or ingratiating, and more likely nice, enticing, or bearing treats and offers. A stranger is any person that they do not know.

What to tell your child about a stranger:

  • Tell your child not to listen to or be near a stranger–rather to move away or back inside.
  • Tell your child to never ever go with a stranger–no matter what the stranger says.
  • Share a code word with your child that is easy for them to remember and assure them that only a trusted adult will know the code word that you both share.
  • Tell your child that strangers may make up sad stories, like looking for a lost pet, needing help with a sick child, or needing directions.
  • Tell your child that strangers may offer treats, gifts or lollies for ‘helping’.
  • Have your child make sure an adult they trust knows where they are at all times
  • Encourage your child if they have to walk by themselves somewhere to walk near busier roads/streets
  • If ever frightened tell your child to go into a ‘safe place’ like a shop, police station or school and NEVER get into a car with someone they don’t know.

Practice makes perfect

  • Having explained ‘stranger danger’ or protective behaviour you might breathe a big sigh of relief. However, let’s not relax just yet. Research shows that kids often can quote what mum or dad said very well, but when placed in the situation, they more often still give in.
  • At home, role play certain situations with your child, such as pretending mum is sick and that a new person needs to take them home.
  • Role play or practise a variety of strategies or other scenarios.
  • Try a test in a safe environment at home, such as an unfamiliar friend at the front door trying to entice them outside to look at a sick, cute rabbit.
  • Research shows that kids often ‘forget’ after a period of time. Thus a yearly family refresher course is very worthwhile.

Active, protective behaviour

  • Teach your child never to wander off or go out of sight.
  • Teach your child to always walk with and stay with friends–to never go alone.
  • Teach and practice saying NO loudly and repeatedly, if they are unsure.
  • Teach your child to yell HELP, as loudly and repeatedly as possible, until they are heard. Predators hate noise and attention.
  • Teach your child to find a safe adult (a policeman or a mum with a stroller) or a safe spot (if they are fearful) such as a school, shop or safety sign. However, don’t tell your child that all uniforms are safe as some predators may be wearing a uniform.

Basic protective safety for parents

    • Always know where your children are.
    • Keep your kids within your sight or supervision.
    • Be alert to other people around you, but not paranoid.
    • Be alert to Internet threats–research shows predators are increasingly luring more mature children through the Internet, such as online, through forums, chat lines, and message systems.
    • Always keep young children’s computers within your vision (not in their bedrooms), and under your supervision.
    • Install a ‘Net-Nanny’ or Parental Control Software program on your computer.
    • Teach your child to never ever give out personal or private information.

Telling

  • Encourage your child to ‘tell’ if they even think they came across a stranger.
  • Encourage your child to ‘tell’ if they felt scared, unsure or uncomfortable (‘yucky’ with any adult).
  • Affirm that you will be happy and praise them for ‘telling’–that they won’t be in trouble.
  • Affirm that you will listen and believe them.

A healthy balance

    • Assure your child that most adults are loving, caring and trustworthy.
    • Discuss good, safe and friendly people in the world, to avoid fear of all adults.
    • Remind your child of helpful adults, like firemen, teachers, police, doctors, etc.
    • Remind your child of ‘good’ adults in their world, who can be trusted.
    • Protect them from over exposure to graphic news stories.

Non stranger danger

  • Be alert to behaviour or interaction, from a relative or friend, that makes you or your child feel uncomfortable.
  • Explain to your child, in age appropriate terms, where touching is not okay, such as touching mouths and areas covered by their swimming costumes.
  • Be alert to overly ingratiating or endearing behaviour that can lead to separation of child and parent.
  • Listen openly at any time your child ‘tells’ about feeling uncomfortable or ‘yucky’.
  • Avoid blaming or being judgmental if your child ‘tells’.

 

    • Be alert for a combination of warning signs of potential danger–the greatest indicator is a change in several behaviours. But be aware that these are only warning signs–they may indicate other concerns:
      • a return to bedwetting, nightmares or disturbed sleep
      • sudden onset of phobias, such as fear of leaving house or fear of dark
      • increase in anxiety, withdrawal or mood swings at unusual times
      • any genital bruising, unusual genital discomfort or repetitive urinary tract infections
      • torn or missing under garments
      • unusual aggression and/or violent or explicit drawings
      • self harming or secretive, inappropriate behaviour
      • resistance to being left with a previously trusted or liked adult.

Finally, keep ‘danger’ in balance. While being alert and pro-active with protective behaviours, remember that a child’s world is full of safe, wonderful and positive events.

Mamamia

This story on the Mamamia website lists Bruce Morcombe’s tips to teach your children in light of his experience with the loss of his son Daniel.  The article also provides links to a couple of other child safety websites.

http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/daniel-morecombe-7-things-you-need-to-talk-to-your-children-about/

RAISING CHILDREN
This website provides some really good questions that are age based you can ask your child to try and determine if they have been subjected to bullying. Many children hide bullying so these questions can be a trigger to a discussion about something that may be troubling your child at school.
kids helpline
Kids helpline offers a lot of fun stuff for children but is best known for their 1800 number for children to call should they need to talk to someone.
KID SPOT
Kidspot.com.au has a wide range of resources for all areas of parenting however it also has a really informative section called ‘facts and figures about bullying’. In addition, on this page is a list of links to more specific areas of information from ’15 things parents should know about bullying’ through to what to do if your child is the bully.
KEN RIGBY
Ken Rigby is a published author, an Adjunct Research Professor and an educational consultant based at the University of South Australia. This site provides a lot of studies and research into the problem of bullying but also some suggestions for combating this social issue.