Educating Your Children on Personal Safety
By Shanaya S. Thompson, School Counselor K-8th at the International Community School (Singapore)
B.S. Psychology emphasis in Christian Counseling
M.Ed in School Counseling
At ICS we are committed to the care and safety of your children. Due to recent events around international schools involving safety and student's interactions with strangers, we wanted to take this moment to offer some tips and reminders that can begin or continue the conversations with you and your children in relation to "Stranger Danger". Here are 5 tips that you can use when discussing this particular topic matter.
1. Explain the Concept of Strangers
- It is important to not assume that children know what strangers mean.
- Ask them what a stranger means to them, and then stem from their response. Explain to them that "tricky strangers" make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable, while a "good strangers" is someone that they can trust and feel safe with.
- Make sure to give examples based on their age level of understanding.
- Kids often think of "tricky strangers" as the appearance of something bad (like a cartoon villain). Remind them that just because someone may "look" nice, doesn't mean that they are.
2. Establish Family Stranger Safety Rules
- Use friendly tones and explain why they should seek permission from parents/guardians before speaking to another adult they don't know.
- It is important for your child to know their own families information (i.e., first name, last name, parent's full names, and family phone numbers) in case they are separated.
- Explain what to do should they get separated from you. Provide different scenarios.
- When in public with your children, remind them to be within eyesight of you, and to inform you when they wish to relocate to a different area.
- Teach them how to conduct themselves in different scenarios when they are home alone.
- Educate them on safe routes home and being aware of their surroundings.
- Establish a family "code" word. Make it unique but easy to remember. Tell your child they should never leave with a person unless that person knows the code word.
3. Point Out Suspicious Strange Behavior
- Tell them that kids ask adults for help -- not vice-versa. Adults asking a child they don't know for any help is often a red flag.
- Education them on different phrases/words that strangers may say that should suspect possible danger. Some examples include, "My dog/cat is missing. Can you help me find it?", "Would you like this candy/toy"?, or "I am am friend of your parents, do you want me to take you home?"
- Explain to them that strangers should not be asking for personal information.
4. Role-Play Different Scenarios
- Kids learn better by doing. By role-playing they are able to grab a stronger hands-on experience while still in the safety of your care.
- Run through them several times until they understand them, and take time to re-emphasize them throughout each year.
- Practice different situations in different places such as malls, bus stops, etc.
- Inform your children that is is okay to be assertive with strangers. If they don't like something or they don't feel comfortable, they need to SPEAK UP!
5. Communicate Often
- The best time to talk about "tricky strangers" is when they are beginning to come out of their comfort zones.
- Recognize that the talk on "tricky strangers" is more than a talk. It's many talks! On going conversation is vital in their education of personal safety.
- When in new situations, re-establish the conversation. You can use the 3 "W's".
- Where they're going
- Who they're going with
- What time they'll be back
- Finally, be a great role model by always addressing parents first before addressing their children.
These are just some simply ways in which to keep your children safe. Educating your children on "Personal Safety" from an early age will help them understand the importance of protecting themselves when needed. This is also extremely helpful in building characteristics such as confidence and self-esteem. As always our staff is here to help support your children in these topics as well as supporting you as parents with these discussions at home. We are always on hand to support you should you ever need us. Though we know Singapore to be a loving, safe country, it is always important to educate our students on "Personal Safety" and being aware of their surroundings. We will continue to stay vigilant and helpful in coming along of your child and your family in all matters of safety.
"Every student, Every family, Every day for Christ".
Note: This content was adapted from http://www.froddo.com/keep-your-child-safe-5-rules-for-stranger-safety