Keeping Children Safe In Public Places
It is never safe to leave a young child alone in a public place. The risk may be small, but it would only take a minute for a child to be abducted. And never ask people you don’t know to ‘keep an eye’ on them.
However well-meaning they may seem, you can’t know that they can be trusted.
11 ways to keep children safe
In most situations, children under 8 years old shouldn’t be out alone, especially in busy towns. Even when out playing with other children, they need to be kept in the care and sight of an adult or a much older child who is mature and trustworthy.
- Never leave young children in unsupervised play areas in shops or parks. And don’t leave them alone in the car or outside a shop, not even for a few minutes.
- If you’re in a crowded place, keep children in a pram or buggy, holds tightly. Don’t walk for ahead of small children who can’t keep up. Remember it only takes a moment for toddlers to wander off.
- As soon as children are able to understand, teach them their full name, address and telephone number. Practice these with them until you’re sure they can be helped.
- Make sure children know the number of Childline 1800 666666 and the Missing Children’s Hotline 116 000 and how they can be helped.
- You can start teaching children simple rules about personal safety from as young as two or three. Tell them clearly that they must never go off with anyone, not even someone they know, without first asking you or the adult who is looking after them. Turn it into a game you can play when you pick them up from nursery.
- Teach older children safe ways of crossing roads, going shopping and asking adults for directions, and let them practice these with you until you are sure that they have understood. When they are mature enough to be out alone, make sure they tell you who they are going out with and when they will be back.
- In busy public places arrange somewhere safe to meet in case you get separated, like an information desk or cash point. Make sure that children know what to do if they ever get lost, and who is safest to ask for help – a garda, shop assistance or someone with a young child.
- Help to build your child’s self-esteem with lots of love, praise and attention. Bullies and dangerous adults may tend to pick out less confident children or those who are neglected and often left alone.
- Let children know that they never have to do anything they don’t like with an adult of older child – even if it’s someone they know. Practice this at home by never making them kiss or hug an adult if they don’t want to.
- Listen to your children, especially when they are trying to tell you about things that worry them. Is there a bully at school or a babysitter they don’t like? Let children know that you will always take them seriously and do whatever you can to keep them safe.
- No matter how much you teach your child about safety, remember the limits of their age and maturity.