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Keeping Kids Safe At Events

Keeping Kids Safe At Events

Last year at Freeville Primary School, student teacher Charlotte Syme got Year One and Two pupils to pass on a safety message to younger kids - and it was an eye opener.

Ms Syme had asked her class to come up with ideas that would ensure the safety of children at public events, and was pleasantly surprised at the quick grasp of the situation shown by the pupils.

The message was cute and clear, and pretty effective: kids warning other kids what do to in anxious situations in a way kids could best understand.

With drawings, clippings and messages like “Hold a adults hand”, “Stay with your mum”, “Stay with your group,” “Please don’t let go of your adults hand”, “Kindy kids keep the school phone number in your pokit,” and “Keep your phone number in your pokit,” the pupils set out to tell kindy kids how to keep safe in public places.

Ms Syme says the idea of teaching younger children to stay safe was the children's own and “this was very motivating for them; at the same time they learned new ways to stay safe themselves”.

The class project came out of the school-wide term-four theme of “Disaster” and what to do when things go wrong.

“Some of the art work was quite extraordinary. The children had a good understanding of what would appeal to kindy kids and how to get their attention. The messages they came up with were clear and had impact for their target audience,” says Ms Syme.

She invited Christchurch City Council event child minder Margaret Dumergue to hold a complementary talk for the pupils, who loved her presentation with puppets on how to be safe in a large public event .

In the talk, Mrs Dumergue, who has spent 15 years staffing Information and Lost Child areas at Council events like Teddy Bears Picnic, focussed on building social confidence and trust in uniformed and badge-wearing personnel at public events so kids can feel confident about talking to police. The children role-played being the lost child and the responsible adult.

Children need to be prepared with home and parent information before they get into trouble, as well as reassured that if they become separated they can rely on kind adults and people in uniform to get them to safety, was the lesson from Mrs Dumergue.

Freeville School runs a thematic approach to learning which is school wide. The theme in Term Four was "Disasters". For the juniors, this theme was made more relevant by learning about "When Things Go Wrong" in various scenarios such as earthquakes, tsunamis & getting lost.

“The children brainstormed certain situations of when things could go wrong in their experiences and they came up with the area they wanted to look into themselves (getting lost and where it may happen, Santa Parade, Christmas in the Park, fireworks displays, etc),” says Ms Syme.

Mrs Margaret “Lost Child” Dumergue’s tips on child safety at a large public event

- Make sure the child has some contact information on its person – home address, parents’ phone number/s, or is able to clearly offer this information (including name) to the right people.
- Reassure children that police officers at large events are there to help, as are badge-wearing personnel involved in the function.
- Develop their social confidence by giving them the tools to get out of trouble before it happens, or to confidently manoeuvre themselves into safety in an anxious situation.
- If you encounter a lost child, try to make them feel at ease, get them a snack if you can or keep them occupied. Foster support for the lost child by saying "Mummy and Daddy loves you and will come looking for you”. Elicit required information to contact or return child to parents/carers.

Margaret says "My bag always has books, paper and felt pens, some raisins and sweets and balloons. These are a small distraction while we wait for the child’s parent/s to arrive.
For the parents who come to collect the child, I try to reassure them; to tell them that their child has done the right thing; that they taught the child the right thing to do. It reinforces the bonding between the child and the parent."


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