It is extremely important that children know and are aware of the safety networks that surround them. The last thing anyone wants to think of, is that of a child getting into an unsafe or dangerous situation. Unfortunately, as much as we try to protect the children in our care, sometimes accidents or unfortunate events can occur. With this in mind, we can assist our children by ensuring that they know there is always someone that they can turn to when they need to get help and support. In my travels around schools, I often found that some children found it difficult to think of safe adults they could go to for help. Usually Mum or Dad, Nan or Pop would spring to mind but outside of those grown-ups, the thought process becomes, at times, stagnate. Once given a bit of a helping hand, often they would start to think of others. It is so important that the child not only knows the adult but feels safe and trusts the adult that they go to for help. Try asking the little people in your care who the adults are that they trust to go to for help and listen to their response.
If you find yourself at a bit of a crossroads during this conversation the following could be people you could suggest if they fit your family’s circumstances. Obviously not all will be suitable, but it may act as a guide.
· Nan/ Grandma etc
· Pop/ Grandpa etc
· Next door neighbour
· Sports coach
· Kids helpline
Children would often ask me if they could go to their friend at school for help. We really want to emphasise the importance of going to an adult when seeking help. Often children might confuse each other, downplay the situation, or become fearful themselves at what they are being told. I used to suggest if they were at school, maybe taking their friend with them to see a teacher- they felt safe with- for help.
I want to take a moment to also say remember to let the children in your care know about Kids helpline. This is a valuable resource for children to know about. Open 24hrs a day, seven days a week. It is free and operated by safe trained counsellors. With this service, there really is always someone they can go to for help. The phone number is also a pattern so you will be surprised at how easy children will learn it. 1800 55 1800. Jump online and have a look at their services. They have an amazing website catering for children as young as 5 years old. They even have a parent line set up for help with difficult parenting situations.
d’s Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Police officers are another external source of help for our children to be made aware of. I think it is important that we teach children the phone number for our emergency services in case the need for emergency help ever arises. In Australia it is 000 (triple zero). Also make sure that you show the child were the zero button is on a phone and demonstrate that you must push the zero button three times. We teach children to be wary of strangers and not to talk to strangers from a young age. Often children will say, “…but I don’t know all the police officers, that makes them a stranger”. I always explain to children that even though we don’t know all of the police officers, their job is to protect people. I like to call them safe strangers.
Police and Emergency services 000
So there really is always someone that children can go to for help if they need to. It is important that children know this and do not feel alone with their worries.
The Morcombe foundation have a great free resource to download to help children learn about their safety and their safety network of people.
I suggest aiming for around five adults that the child knows and trust. Ensure that the adults selected will listen to and believe what the child is telling them. This is a vital component of the safety network.
So, go start a conversation with the child in your care and help them learn about safe grownups they can go to for help. Remember there is always someone.
Vashty & Blossom bunny