Monday, 8 October 2012

Keeping your child safe in the big wide world

I've been putting off writing this post in the hope of good news arriving in the past 7 days but unfortunately that wasn't the case.  Throughout the past week, we've been glued to the news channels on the TV and listening out for my husband's RNLI pager to go off, fearing the worst....

I'm not going to reiterate or re-report what has been in the press regarding the abduction of April Jones... I'm just going to write about how we dealt with it regarding our children.

My daughter is 8 years old and my son is 5 years old - the same age as April.  I have no doubt in my mind that neither of my children would go willingly with a stranger... but with someone they know?  Well, yes, the honest answer is that in a situation that they feel "safe" they would quite possibly get into a car or go with someone they know.

What really brought the abduction of April home to me is that we live within the 15 mile "search area" of the incident and the town we live in is very similar in style and size of community to the one where she lives.  It's the old cliche that "everyone knows everybody" but it's true...  Crime levels here are very low, for example, you think someone has stolen your wheelie bin but when you look properly, the binman has put it back outside the wrong house!

And, yes, my children play outside my house and I'm not watching them every minute - the phone may ring or I may nip to the loo...

We have always taught our children some simple things from a young age... i.e. from starting school full-time aged 4.  They both know our home phone number and their Nan's home phone number.  They know their address and (as we live in a small town as previously said) they know where to go if they were to lose me or my husband in the town centre... the library, the Police station or a shop where "such-and-such's Mum/Dad" works.

When I was at school we had school information videos like this....
 


 But things have changed with the fact that it's not always a stranger... and so we have had the "stranger" talk with my children again... but also making a point of saying that they shouldn't go ANYWHERE with ANYONE without telling me or their Dad where they are going and who with.  And my husband and I am committed to making sure our friends children stay safe... if one of them pops round to see if my child/ren wants to play out... the first question will always be, "does your Mum/Dad know you're here?"  And a quick phone call to check...!

As my children grow up, there will be many situations that we have to handle as parents but we live and learn and prepare ourselves and them (the children) with what to do as things occur.

So, stay safe everyone and pass the message on - communication is key, make sure your children know to tell you where, when, why and who....