WELLINGTON CTY. – With the school year winding down and summer break almost here, many people throughout Wellington County will see a large increase of children outdoors during the day.
OPP Constable Mark Cloes said for some parents that may create a felling of angst as they worry for their child’s safety during the summer break.
The county OPP is reminding parents to arm their children with some safety information.
“You can equip your child with the knowledge and strategies they will need to protect themselves in dangerous situations,” he said. He added children need to understand what parents mean by “stranger.”
Not all people unknown to them are necessarily dangerous – they need to understand the difference between “good” and “bad” strangers; but the difference must be one that puts that information in terms a child can understand.
It is important that children understand where and to whom to turn if they are ever lost, feel scared or threatened, or if they think someone may be following them.
Some examples of “good” strangers may include police officers, fire fighters, teachers etc. Those are examples of people to turn to if your child needs help.
On the other hand, some situations where your child may be approached by a “bad” stranger while at the park, residential street, while awaiting the school bus etc – those easily identifiable people may not be around.
If children are approached by a “bad” stranger who tries to lure or physically pull them away, the best thing they can do is get the attention of other adults – whether it is running to the nearest home, or making enough noise to be heard by someone. The vast majority of adults will help a child in danger.
Some tips and strategies for children to protect themselves include:
– Know their name, address, and phone number;
– Use the buddy system – avoid walking anywhere alone;
– If you feel you are being followed or something is not right, seek help immediately;
– If a stranger approaches you, you do not have to speak to them. Never approach a stranger in a motor vehicle. Just keep walking. Do not accept candy or any other gifts from a stranger. Never walk off with a stranger – no matter what they tell you.
– If someone is following you, try to remember the licence plate of the vehicle and immediately tell a trusted adult.
– If a stranger tries to grab you, do everything you can to stop them from pulling you away or dragging you to the car. Drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite, yell, and scream. Do whatever it takes to attract the attention of others who can help you. If someone is dragging you away, scream, "This is not my dad," or "This is not my mom.”
Tell your kids if they see anything suspicious they should immediately to tell a trusted adult and report it then to the nearest police.