Northumberland County Council’s children services are offering some positive tips and advice to parents and schools about ‘stranger danger’ awareness.
Corporate director of children’s services, Paul Moffat, is promoting top tips from national charity Kidscape; along with the work of other partners including Northumbria police and the Northumberland Safeguarding Children’s board who work together to educate children and families.
It’s both common and dangerous for children to think that strangers look scary or sinister, like villains in films or cartoons. One tip to highlight that this isn’t always the case is to play a game with your child, asking them to draw a picture of a stranger. This will help reinforce the message that a stranger can look like anyone and because they can’t tell if a stranger is nice or not, all strangers should be treat the same.
Councillor Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services said: “Child safety is a key part of our broader commitment to our children’s wellbeing, and ‘Stranger Danger’ awareness is one area that schools and services cover to help us all enable our children to think through decisions, gain increased self-confidence and attain greater resilience.”
If your child is approached by a stranger, the best advice is to encourage them to raise the alarm by saying ‘no’ to draw attention to the situation. Teach your child the basic slogan, ‘Don’t go, say no’. As a parent, you should reassure your child not to be scared and tell them that this is the right thing to do. It is also advised that you teach them to look out for ‘safe strangers’ in uniforms such as police officers, teachers or traffic wardens.
Claude Knights, CEO for Kidscape said: “Fortunately only a small number of adults would ever harm a child, however these tips aim to build children’s independent judgement. We commend Northumberland for taking this initiative to raise awareness and their ongoing efforts in helping parents empower their children to keep themselves safe.”
Children aged five to eight are the most vulnerable when it comes to strangers. It is stressed that within this age group, children are told that they should never talk to a stranger, accept gifts or sweets and never to walk off or get into a car with one.
Mick Paterson, police superintendent for neighbourhoods said: “Local police officers across Northumberland work very closely with schools to ensure children have the right advice and information. It’s important we engage with young people in our schools right through their school years to make sure they know police are there to help and provide the right advice to keep them safe in our communities.”
Whichever way you decide to make your child aware of these dangers, it is important to have regular conversations, especially with younger children, every three to four months. For more advice on this subject visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/SafeguardingChildren and look under information for parents and carers, or contact Rachel Farnham on 01670 624 036.