BY HANNAH WOODS
I feel passionately about parents having confidence in the choices they make around keeping their children safe, and parents and young people being able to make informed choices they make to keep their children safe. I’m sharing here tips I’ve trialled both as a parent and a youth worker. I’ve also gathered advice from teachers, a health nurse and a chaplain at secondary schools – and young people themselves.
The NSPCC’s PANTS Rule (from toddlers onwards)
This is accessible and easy to implement, with great resources available. I’ve been using it with my children since they were about two. It’s a simple, foundational way to open conversations about consent, body autonomy and ‘safe’ adults you can talk to. Details at http://bit.ly/PANTSrule
Quickfire safety tips from young people
I love this list because it’s practical and entirely the words of 13-14 year-olds.
- Stay in big groups with people you know – this reduces the risk of kidnapping or unwanted attention.
- Don’t walk down creepy drug alleyways.
- Keep your phone on.
- Go straight where you’re going.
- Don’t make yourself vulnerable.
Risk assessing for kids (aged 3+)
One of my favourite questions is “what can go wrong here, and how can we make it safer?”
Teenagers and my three-year-old son alike have all enjoyed the challenge and the responsibility of assessing risk and implementing precautions. Using conversation to find ways of reducing risk and growing independent thought builds resilience by making it possible to take considered risks, and allows you to see your child’s thought processes.
These questions are the basis of a risk assessment, and can be applied to everything from walking on a wall when you’re three to catching the bus at 13.
Maintain open communications (all ages)
I believe the single most important safeguarding tip for parents is to keep communications open. A basic principle of youth work is ‘informal education’, which involves listening to what young people are talking about and seeking ways to connect and encourage growth through that conversation. There is an art to really listening to what children and young people are saying, even simple things can be significant.
By Hannah Woods, Viva’s Doorsteps Lead Youth Worker
Top photo: Myles Tan
This article first appeared in Life magazine, issue 9