Child safety is always on the mind of parents and guardians but the recent events involving child luring in Cochrane are increasing the concern.
Making children aware of dangers without frightening them can be a tough lesson. Fortunately, Cochrane Emergency Training Services is available to teach parents and kids about how to be safe on multiple levels.
CETS offers a couple of courses for kids including a babysitting course and a home alone course. Melissa Clattenburg an instructor with CETS says, "The home alone safety talks all about recognizing hazards in your neighbourhood and at home safety and what you do if you’re encountered by a stranger. When to answer the phone when you’re home alone and what to tell people and it’s all those kinds of things so it just gets the kids thinking about being aware when they’re home alone.”
Clattenburg says, in the course, they do talk about stranger danger and staying in groups, never following anyone anywhere, never going near anyone’s vehicle, talking loudly (to make the stranger uncomfortable), and looking around for other adults that can help.
Clattenburg, a mother of three children, admits that it is a fine line between making children aware and frightening them saying, “My own kids are 11 and eight and four, so I feel like my own kids, every day have been making sure to come home together. Honestly, I was a little worried that we maybe had put a little bit too much fear in them. But it is better to have them more aware and just be really honest with them about what could happen.” She believes that awareness and honesty are the best policy. “I’d rather have them more prepared (for an incident) than underprepared for it.”
Of course, in this day in age, it is a must to teach children about the internet and online safety. Clattenburg says the course covers that important topic as well. Teaching children never to give anyone pictures or share what school they go to or what neighbourhood they live in. Also, to make sure that only befriend friends that are actual physical friends.
Clattenburg says apps that are more geared for younger kids like Kids Messenger, where the parent must approve friends work well and she believes it’s okay for parents to be a bit nosey when it comes to knowing whom their kids are conversing with.
When it comes to teaching kids about safety, Clattenburg says with a chuckle, “I think it's just sometimes better for them to hear it from someone else that isn't mom and dad." Sometimes hearing things from someone else once rather than over and over from a parent can be more effective.
The safety courses can be booked online, and they are hosted above the Cochrane Movie House. Clattenburg says, “I keep them there for a few hours to make sure that they're prepared for safety in our communities and for safety at home so we can all feel more comfortable about leaving our kids home alone and it also has a first aid aspect. They are building their first aid careers by being prepared when they are out biking and stuff with their friends. So, it’s just good life skills to make sure that we’re passing on to those kids of ours.”