Personal Safety for Children

A 2011 report by Women’s Support Project ? revealed that of the 1,051 child sexual abuse incidents compiled in 2010 only 10 actually led to a prosecution.

In February 2011, a 20yr old Scottish man admitted sexually abusing children as young as 8yrs old. He was found to have groomed over 250 children on-line.

According to an NSPCC report in March 2013 ?;

  • Almost half (46%) of children and young people say they have been bullied at school at some point in their lives.
  • Bullying was the main reason that boys called ChildLine.
  • 18% of children and young people who worried about bullying said they would not talk to their parents about it.
  • 38% of young people have been affected by cyber-bullying.
  • 31,599 children called ChildLine in 2011/12 (10% of calls) about bullying.

To combat this, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety (ScotCPS) has developed a number of training courses for pre-school children right up until their last year of primary school. Our pre-school courses involve elements of pantomime, play acting and dance to enforce our safety messages regarding keeping secrets and stranger danger whereas our programmes for primary school children allow them to role play and act out various safety scenarios from school bullying to inappropriate touching.

Red-Man Suit

Both pre-school and primary school courses introduce our “Redman Danger” character and give children the opportunity to practice defensive kicks and strikes on a colourful padded instructor before we emphasis the seriousness of what they are learning.

Our courses have been independently assessed and count towards 40 criteria from the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence.

We also encourage parents and carers to think about they protect their children, asking questions such as “What will your child do if you are alone with them in the house and you have an accident?” Can they use the telephone? Who would they phone and where is that number kept? Do they know basic First Aid? Is there a ‘safe’ house they can get help from? Is there a house you definitely would not want them to go to?

We ask parents to also ensure that there is a wide spectrum of support for their child. Different problems (accidents, abuse, bullying, cyber-bullying, etc.) need different people to help and a child needs to have contact with aunts, uncles, friends, teachers, etc. to allow them to make up their own mind as to who they go to with a particular problem.

We would also encourage parents and carers to think about stranger danger –

What does a stranger look like according to your child?
Usually, a child will have a concept of a dark, “fairy-tale baddie” type of person so parents need to set the record straight and tell them a stranger is anyone they don’t know – no matter how nice, friendly or caring they appear to be.

Does your child know what to do if approached by a stranger? Do they know who to report a stranger to? If a stranger gets physical, can your child defend itself?

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety recommends that every child should learn basic self defence skills to protect them against abductors and predators.

Child Safety 4

Our primary school courses aimed at 10 – 12 year olds also highlight the various ways predators fool their victims including scenarios in the park where the victim may be asked to help look for a non-existent dog, to Facebook and emails apparently from “someone their age” arranging to meet in a secluded area.

As a parent, there are many worries involving your child’s safety, here are a few tips;

What if your child gets lost?

Be sure your child knows what to do if you become separated in a public place. And a tip for parents is to always have a current picture of your child and know what clothing they are wearing each time they leave your home.

As the number of child abductions seems to be increasing, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety recommends taking your child’s safety a little step further;

Personal Attack Alarms

If going on holiday, take a personal attack alarm with you. These can be picked up for under £5 and most come with door attachments. If your child is old enough to understand its use, let them carry one in their pocket. If they get attacked or snatched by a stranger, they can activate the alarm and hopefully summon assistance.
At night, the alarm can be attached to the handle of your room door (either using the sticky fixers provided on some models or by looping the pull cord over the handle onto the door frame) and this will activate of anyone enters the room unexpectedly.

Wireless Handheld Video

We also recommend wireless, handheld video monitors for extra peace of mind. These cost from £100 – over £350 depending on make, model and range and work similar to baby monitors (some models can even pan and tilt to follow the movement of your child while they sleep).

Most good models come with automatic night vision and the camera can be placed in your room to monitor your child while you pop down to the hotel restaurant or bar for a meal or drink.

The infra red video images are transmitted to a hand held monitor (some are colour but cheaper models are usually black & white) and this usually includes a built in microphone so you can hear as well as see your child. The range varies from 30 metres to 150 metres plus.

Location Devices

If you are worried that your child may get lost in busy areas while on holiday or even down your local shopping centre, there are a variety of safety devices which can help you keep tabs on your child’s location. The devices consist of a transmitter, which is fitted to your child’s wrist or clothing, and a signal receiver, which constantly monitors how far away your child is.

The moment your child strays away from you, the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver which activates and emits a sound signal to alert you of the possible danger.
The transmitter can be set to activate if your child strays as little as 2 metres away from you or as much as 200 metres (depending on make / model).

Many of these location monitoring devices are shaped like teddy bears, pandas, love hearts, cute faces, etc. to encourage your child to wear them and they cost from just over £10 to as much as £100, again depending on the make and range.

Some models even have a tracking mode which will enable the parents to find the lost child by following audio or visual cues. And some models can track the device over longer distances using similar GPS technology as is on your mobile phone.

Obviously, some hotels have a baby monitoring service which listens for crying via the room telephone so you may be asking “Are these extra devices necessary?” and really, it is up to you. These personal monitoring devices give you added peace of mind as well as giving your sleeping child added protection.