As the weather starts to warm up and children start spending more time outside, now is a good time to have a discussion about safe interactions with strangers. Although we know that Calgary is a very safe place to live, it’s still important to keep in mind the dangers that can exist in our communities, however rare they may be.
Here are some tips to help you talk to your children about being safe in the community and what to do in an attempted luring or abduction situation:
Teach your children who is a safe adult. Have a conversation with your child about who a stranger is, and how even people known to them could still be dangerous. In the past, we’ve talked with children a lot about “stranger danger.” Unfortunately, we now know that many child abductions are committed by people the child already knows. The important message to teach your children is not to go anywhere with anyone without first getting permission from you.
Use the buddy system. When your children are out in the community, make sure they are always with at least one other person. Make sure you get to know your children’s friends and their parents, and have contact numbers in case of an emergency.
Show your children safe places in the community. Point out safe places in your community that your children can go to for help if needed. These places could include police, fire and EMS stations, schools, community centres, businesses, or even trusted neighbors. It’s important for children to have multiple places they can go to in an emergency.
Know where your child is at all times. If your child is traveling anywhere by themselves, make sure you agree on a predetermined route before they go. If it’s somewhere they go often, they should always use the same route so you know where they’ll be. Also, always have your child text or call you when they arrive at their final destination or when they are on their way home.
Be aware. Get to know your neighbors and always watch for suspicious people in your community. If you notice any suspicious activity, call the CPS non- emergency line at 403-266-1234 or 9-1-1 for a crime in progress. You should also be aware of community alerts and notifications of any suspicious activity or recent child luring attempts in your area.
Staying safe online. If your children use social media platforms, make sure you know whom they are communicating with. It’s important to teach them that people they meet online may not always be who they say they are. If they want to meet an online friend in person, you should be involved in making the plans and be present when the meeting happens.
If an attempted abduction happens, teach your children to actively resist, shout out loud, and draw attention to themselves. Make sure
they know where to go for help or how to call police.
For more resources, visit missingkids.ca.
Roger Chaffin is the Chief of Police for the Calgary Police Service.
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