ISPCC tips for keeping children safe in summer months

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With the summer holidays just around the corner, children will be spending more time in the great outdoors, playing in the good weather or exploring new places with their families.

The ISPCC is Ireland’s national child protection charity, and is providing parents with some tips to keep their children safe in the summer months.

Although every parent wants to protect their children, we cannot be there 100% of the time. Children play with friends, attend birthday parties, attend summer camps and clubs, older children may travel locally independently and so parents need to ensure that their children are equipped with the skills and confidence to be safe when out alone without their parent or guardian.

Here are the ISPCC’s top ten tips on keeping children safe:

  1. Teach children safe ways of crossing roads, going shopping and practice these skills 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.
  2. Establish the “Check First” rule with children – ensure that children always check first with you before they go anywhere.
  3. Very young children 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.
  4. 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 remember them.
    Make sure they have your telephone number, or the number of an adult you trust – write this number on a piece of paper for their pocket.
  5. 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 assistant or someone with a young child.
  6. Make sure children know the number of Childline 1800 666666 and the Missing Children’s Hotline 116 000 and how they can be helped.
  7. Listen to your children, encourage their independence and help them to develop safety skills but be clear about the rules and boundaries. Let children know that you will always take them seriously, that you trust them and you will always be there for them.
  8. Help to build your child’s self-esteem with lots of love, praise and attention, particularly when they have followed rules like “Check First” etc.
  9. Speak to your children about being safe, not to go with another adult/older child, even if they know them, without your knowledge. Some parents use passwords to ensure that should a situation arise where another adult needs to drop or collect the child they will have a password so that the child knows that it is safe. (You may need to practice and test this)
  10. You cannot be physically there for your children 100% of the time so we as parents need to ensure that our children have the ability to make good decisions and choices, have problem solving skills and develop social interaction skills. This will not be achieved if you as the parent are ever ready to intervene!