Talking to kids of all ages about personal safety

Your child’s safety is your priority from the day you first bring them home until long after they’ve left the nest. And as kids grow more independent and spend more time unsupervised , parents and caregivers must learn to have meaningful and open conversations on personal safety topics when they can’t be there to protect them. Here are some tips:

Set boundaries
If your children openly communicate their needs and wants, they are old enough to understand basic safety lessons. This could include dangers inside and outside the home like getting burned by the stove or scalding hot water, and how to safely cross the street. Setting safety boundaries for your children changes with age and is ever evolving. For example, when appropriate, get them to memorize a parent or guardian’s phone number to reach out to in an emergency. You can also chat with them about the importance of being cautious when interacting with strangers, both in person and virtually.

Discuss physical safety
If your kids have decided to move out, explore the workforce or pursue post-secondary education out of town – there are some steps they can take to protect themselves when they’re on their own.

If they will be living alone or in a dorm, make sure they know where all the exits are and where to locate the building’s emergency plan. If they are living in a rental property, portable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are small investments for added peace of mind.

A personal mobile phone for emergency use is a common way to help stay connected, however, most campuses also have well-marked emergency phones to use in the event someone is being followed or harassed. Public transit systems often have designated safe waiting areas as well.

Talk about human trafficking
While many people think of human trafficking as an issue that doesn’t happen close to home, every year Canadians across the country are taken advantage of and exploited for sexual or labour purposes.

Teach your kids about what human trafficking is and what traffickers may do. Some traffickers may isolate kids from friends and family, pressure them into providing services to earn love, pay back favours or gifts, or to show gratitude. Traffickers may even show romantic interest or offer fake job opportunities.

If a job offer sounds too good to be true, it may well be. A legitimate job offer will clearly state the wages, hours and expectations. Further, teach your kids to never hand over their passport or other personal documents to anyone.

Support is available 24/7 through the hotline from the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking at 1-833-900-1010. Find more information at canada.ca/human-trafficking

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