As a parent, the thought of someone luring our children into a car fills us with dread and anxiety. We know we can’t be with our children at all times and eventually, we need to encourage them to become independent, but what can we do to give them the tools they need to stay safe and to make smart choices?
Here are some topics to discuss with your children from the Ottawa Safety Council’s Street Proofing Workshop:
- Strangers don’t have to look strange. What do they look like, what do they wear? What is the difference between a helpful stranger, like a police officer or security guard, and a dangerous stranger, one who offers you a ride home or tries to give you candy? Who is your safe neighbour?
- It’s ok to say NO to adults. If a stranger asks a child to do something they don’t feel comfortable with, it’s ok to say NO to an adult. They should say it powerfully, with a strong and loud voice.
- Keep a safe distance. Your personal space is very important, keep an arm’s length away or more from any stranger.
- Have a family password. It’s a special word or phrase that a family comes up with and is known by all family members, children know never to leave with a person who does not know the password.
- Have a safe place or house to go to. Discuss with your child where they can go if they feel in danger, hurt or scared. A safe neighbour’s house, a school, a friend’s house, a community centre? When they get to a safe place, tell them to call 911 or call a family member. Tell them what is wrong by answering the 5 W’s: Who? What? Where? Why? When?
- Stick to the buddy system. What does this mean and what do you expect of them? Encourage your child to walk to school with a friend or neighbour, never wander off alone and to always tell you where they are going.
- Learn your Phone Number and Address. Do your children know their parent’s names and cell numbers? What is your address and home number?
The best way to learn is by doing! The Ottawa Safety Council’s Street Proofing workshop teaches children life skills, through discussion, hands-on activities and role-playing. Our instructors are experienced, certified and have a background in ECE, Children and Youth or Education. Our program is geared for children 9 to 12 years and is combined with the Home Alone program.
Road safety is a shared responsibility, regardless of how you use the road. Our friends, family, children, and colleagues are impacted several times daily by road safety. When tragedy strikes, too often we feel powerless in terms of making an impact to prevent further issues. If you would like to get more involved in road safety, we invite you to take the #RoadSMARTS pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents can be reduced. For more information and to take the pledge for free, visit https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts.