As the warm weather settles in, families around the city are venturing back out to enjoy all the city has to offer. Fabulous parks, the waterfront, open-air festivals and popular attractions are all on our doorstep, brimming with fun for the whole family.
However, with recent stories about youngsters going missing or being hurt in our public spaces, it’s easy to worry about keeping our little ones safe on what should be a fun-filled day.
With the help of the Toronto Police, here are some tips to keep your children safe and give you peace of mind.
Before you leave, talk to your kids and provide them with clear guidelines that will help them feel safe without scaring them.
You may think your child knows better, but when faced with treats, rides or other special attractions, kids may get too excited to remember. Empower children to trust their feelings and remind them that it is okay to say no to an adult who is making them feel uncomfortable.
Make sure your child can easily recite their full name, address, phone number and parents’ names. Children who are too young to retain this information should carry it with them in a conspicuous place in case you are separated. However, don’t include your child’s name, as children are less likely to be fearful of someone who calls them by name.
An award-winning company called Safetytat creates temporary tattoos, customized with your phone number so children can wear their contact information with no smudging, even while swimming or wearing sunblock. These can be fully customized using their online TatBuilder or parents can order blank ones with a permanent pen to write in their details.
Techies will love the latest QR tats that carry up to 90 characters of family-specific information, instantly scanned using a smart phone with QR application.
Tell your children if they do become lost, they should take a deep breath, stay calm and look for someone to help. The Toronto Police recommend looking for a police officer, store clerk or a mother with children and never go to a parking lot.
If that horrible moment should happen, take a deep breath yourself and call the police as soon as possible. Be prepared to give a detailed description of your child’s clothing and any bags or toys that may stand out. Dressing youngsters in bright colours before you leave can also help.
With the best of intentions, many festivals will hand out treats and trinkets to eager kids, but not all take the time to ask a parent’s permission. Make it clear to your children they should not accept anything unless you have given it a thumbs up.
If you have decided your kids are old enough to have some independence at the event, have them check in with your regularly and remind them not to move on to a new location without first telling you. Don’t let children go into public restrooms alone, even if it means taking a boy into the ladies’ room or vice-versa. What may cause minor embarrassment for you or your children will keep them safe.
Because we share our parks and green spaces with four-legged friends of all shapes and sizes and even children with their own should remember dog safety.
According to the Toronto Police website, when people are bitten it is usually by a dog they know. Explain to your children that even friendly dogs can bite if they feel scared or protective. Kids should avoid making loud noises or running away from dogs whose instinct is often to chase and perhaps even hurt.
If a child thinks a dog is frightened or injured tell them to tell an adult because vulnerable animals can be unpredictable. Of course animals can be loving and friendly to children too, so just remind them to ask permission first from the dog’s owner. The best approach is to hold out a hand for the dog to sniff and then of course, give that furry friend a stroke or scratch behind the ears.
If all of this has your head spinning, take heart. Once these discussions have happened the first time, a quick reminder en route to your destination is all that will be required. Visit the Toronto Police’s Kid’s Zone for printable worksheets and booklets to make the learning more fun and then get out there and have a great spring and summer.
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