October brings with it colder and shorter days. As it starts to get darker quicker, we often, as parents, become increasingly concerned about the best ways to keep our children safe as they make their way to or from school. Whether it’s simply ensuring they have suitable reflective clothing, a cycle helmet that fits or reinforcing the old adage “stranger danger” we always want to know we have done our best.

While none of us want to think the worst, and couldn’t imagine our child being put in a situation where they would need to know how to fight back or protect themselves, it is best to have some idea of what they might need to do to keep themselves safe.

Code words

In cases where children have been approached by strangers, one of the most common rouses is for the adult to say they’ve been sent by Mummy or Daddy to collect them, or give them a lift. Children are by very nature trusting, and it is disturbing how easily they can be encouraged to get in to a stranger’s car thanks to a simple lie.

Why not agree a simple code word with your child? Something you will make sure any adult that is sent to collect them would know. This way, your child can ask for the code word to be sure they are safe and with a trusted person.

Don’t get personal

How many times have you seen a t-shirt, hat, bag or coat with your child’s name on it and been tempted to buy it? It’s a knee-jerk reaction, especially if it also contains one of their favourite characters. However, when your child’s name is plastered all over their clothing, this could inadvertently put them at risk.

Anyone can easily see what your child’s name is, and call them. The child may not realise how this stranger knows their name, and is given a false sense of security. Why risk it?

Tell them to scream

As parents we know that children, of all ages, can be prone to throwing the odd wobbler. It doesn’t matter what’s caused it or how justified it may seem, we have all, at some point in our parenting careers, carried a kicking and screaming child out of a building.

When faced with another adult carrying yet another red faced, upset and yelling child do you even bat an eyelid? You may glance, you may share a look, you no doubt feel sympathy; but do you stop and question it? Of course not.

Take the time to teach your child to scream something that will raise alarm or really get people’s attention if someone were to grab them. It could be anything, “help” or “stranger” are good examples, definitely better than “put me down” or “leave me alone” – both of which a child may scream in a legitimate situation.

For more information check out the Personal Safety website here.