Keep your children safe

Young children must never be left alone in a house or vehicle – they need constant supervision. It is illegal to leave a child under the age of 14 years without reasonable provision for their care.

Know exactly where your child is at all times. If you use caregivers, ask for references and visit them often without warning.

Talk with your child often. Listen carefully and check the exact meaning of their words. Never show alarm or panic. If you believe your child may have been abused, contact Child, Youth and Family or Police.

If you think someone else’s child is being badly treated or abused, contact Child, Youth and Family or Police. Don’t hesitate for a moment to report your suspicions. It is far better to be wrong than too late. In an emergency dial 111.

Your local playcentre, kindergarten, school, library or Citizens Advice Bureau can provide you with books and information about personal safety programmes for children.

The Police Keeping Ourselves Safe programme provides a guidebook for parents and caregivers that will help them know how to keep their children safe from abuse and violence. This guidebook is available through Police School Community Services.

Babysitters

  • A babysitter must be at least 14 years old and should be a family member or friend – somebody you trust and your children feel happy with.
  • Leave emergency numbers by the phone, including the number where you can be contacted and the number of a nearby relative or friend.
  • Tell the babysitter the exact bedtime routine. Provide any special information about your children, for example their medicine.
  • Tell the babysitter where to find a torch, clean bedding, clothes and nappies.
  • Be clear about arrangements including pay, using the phone, having friends visit and making snacks.
  • Arrange to get the babysitter home safely. If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive - provide a taxi.
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Keeping pre-teens safe

Work out family rules and routines to help your children keep safe. Keep an up-to-date list of contact and emergency phone numbers by the phone or programmed into it so children can get help if necessary. Teach children to answer the phone politely and briefly. Show them how to take messages and deal with wrong number calls. Teach them not to chat on the phone with people they don't know, reveal they are alone or let people they don't know into the house.

If your child is visiting a friend after school, check with the friend’s parents and confirm arrangements in advance. In rural schools let the teacher know the arrangements too.

Getting home safely

Teach your child how to get safely to and from school and other places they go – whether they walk, bike or go by bus. Make clear rules about getting home.

Go to school with your child so that you can show them the safest route. Teach them to deal with hazards like narrow footpaths or busy roads. If they walk, make sure they always use pedestrian crossings.

Who does your child walk home with? Meet the parents of children in your area and keep in touch.

Teach the children to walk home together in twos or small groups, not alone. Make other arrangements if someone is away.

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Protecting your children from drugs

Drug education starts long before children are faced with temptation.

The Police School Community Services provides drug education for schools. This enables children and young people to avoid illegal drugs, to make sensible choices about their use of alcohol and other drugs and to seek help when needed.

Material for parents and caregivers is available from the School Community Services.

Watch out for signs of drug use:

  • personality changes, moodiness, withdrawal, forgetfulness, confusion
  • lying, loss of control, sudden anger, hysteria, rudeness
  • loss of interest in school and sports, falling grades, truancy
  • unexplained changes in behaviour,dress, friends, places they visit
  • red eyes, loss of appetite, weight loss, constant tiredness, hyperactivity.

To help a child or teenager, contact:

  • the teacher or principal of your child’s school
  • your nearest police station
  • Child, Youth and Family
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797.