Winnipeg, Canada – In the wake of a recent sexual assault incident involving a 12-year-old Winnipeg girl by a stranger, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) is urging families to talk about personal safety with their children, along with offering resources to help facilitate these conversations with children of all ages.
While situations like this are not commonplace, it can be incredibly distressing for families to hear about. A way to help restore a sense of safety is to have age-appropriate discussions about personal safety to build their safety skills and confidence, while limiting their exposure to details or media coverage that is scary.
“Check in with children to see how they are making sense of any information they are exposed to so you are able to correct any misperceptions and reassure them about their current safety,” says Noni Classen, Director of Education with C3P.
Classen states conversations about personal safety should start early, and be continuous. Families can review safety strategies like the buddy system, checking-in with a parent before going anywhere with anyone, understanding safe boundaries, and trusting their instincts, regularly as part of everyday discussions.
“It’s our responsibility as adults to prepare children for unsafe situations they may encounter. We know when safety conversations become an integrated part of a child’s life, personal safety strategies are more likely to be used and be successful,” explains Classen, adding utilizing storybooks and what if scenarios with kids on a regular basis can grow their confidence without scaring them.
C3P has resources for all ages to encourage regular discussions about personal safety.