You can’t always be around to keep your children safe, but you can teach them ways to look after themselves.
Ban personalised items
If a stranger seems to know a child’s name, then the child is far more likely to think that they can trust them, so get rid of named lunchboxes, personalised bags and anything else that will give their identity away.
Have a code word
Have a code word that only you, trusted family and friends and your children know. They can then use this to check if someone really should be picking them up from school or to alert you to them feeling uncomfortable, if they phone you from a neighbour’s house, for example, even if that person has undergone a basic DBS check.
No body secrets
Make it a rule that children never keep secrets about body parts, even if they’ve been told to by somebody else. They should know to tell you immediately if someone has touched or spoken about parts of their body and have told them not to share their ‘secret’ with anyone else.
Teach your children that if they think they are being followed by someone in a car, they should turn and run off in the opposite direction, meaning that the car will probably have to turn around before it can carry on in pursuit.
You should also ensure that they fully understand the concept of stranger danger and know that strangers don’t have to look ‘scruffy’ or ‘weird’ and could even be someone who passed a basic DBS check with flying colours. More tips on staying safe can be obtained on the NSPCC website at https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/staying-safe-away-from-home/.
Find a mum
Teach them to turn to a mother with children for help. Obviously, there is no guarantee that every mum is going to be suitable, but the odds are fairly good, even if she hasn’t been the subject of a basic DBS check.
Raise the alarm
Tell your children to make people around them aware that they are in danger by shouting out previously-discussed words and phrases like ‘help, leave me alone’ or ‘who are you?’.
Make sure that your children know that they don’t need to remember their manners or do as they’re told if they feel in danger, even when dealing with an adult.