It’s a tough topic to talk about.
We’ve all heard stories of kids being approached by people they don't know, attempted abductions and the most hard-to-contemplate scenario, actually taken. It strikes fear into the heart of every parent.
But how do we educate our kids without taking their innocence or making them afraid? How do we tell them that the world is generally a safe, wonderful place, but to be cautious at the same time?
Our son is seven so we want to keep any conversations about this topic age appropriate. We want him to feel comfortable and trusting in the world around him, confident in his ability to handle situations and also know when to ask a trusted grown up for help. It’s a big ask.
Where to begin?
A great tip I heard recently is to talk about ‘tricky people’, as once someone has been introduced then technically they are no longer a stranger.
I also love the idea of introducing a family password. If someone did approach your child and say, “Mummy/Daddy can’t pick you up today and said to come home with me,” your child will know to ask for the password. If the person doesn’t know it, then it’s a quick alert to your child that they need to look for a teacher or other trusted grown up for help.
I make a habit of telling my son at morning drop-off who he can expect to pick him up that afternoon. That I would never send someone he didn’t know to pick him up.
On a day-to-day basis we’ve let our child know that it’s ok to talk to people he doesn’t know if mum or dad is with him. We’ve not encouraged him to be overly friendly with people we don’t know.
That he doesn’t have to kiss or hug anyone he doesn’t want to and if anyone makes him feel strange or unsafe then he can let us know. And, most importantly, that if anyone asks him to keep a secret, it’s still a secret if he tells me or daddy.
Sometimes it’s the most obvious things we need to say to our kids:
- You can always tell me anything
- I’m always on your side
- Feeling safe is really important
- Your body is your business
- If you don’t feel safe, trust yourself and ask for help
And then it’s up to us to really listen.
This year the Daniel Morcombe Foundation celebrated 11 years since its creation. It has worked tirelessly in this time to both educate children about their personal safety in both physical and online environments as well as assisting young victims of crime.
The principles of the Foundation are to Recognise, React and Report if they feel something is not right. Each year the Day for Daniel is held on October 30th where people are encouraged to wear red, Daniel’s favourite colour, to raise awareness in schools, kindergartens, businesses and communities across Australia.
You can check out the wonderful work they do and their resources that can benefit kids and parents here.
Other great resources for kids and parents covering online and personal safety, as well as bullying, are:
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