• May 22, 2017
Safety education ensures children are able to protect themselves in public and at home. Photo: Grace Dobson Phillips
A police safety programme for school children is proving particularly crucial following recent reports of abduction attempts.
New Zealand Police have been implementing the “Keeping Ourselves Safe” programme into primary and intermediate schools across the nation since the 1980s.
Last month, a pupil from Kelston Primary school was approached by a stranger. It is understood that, by applying the skills from the programme, he was able to safely remove himself from the situation.
But police say teaching school children about safety is more than just a warning about stranger danger.
The programme hopes to encourage school children to apply skills in both social and home situations to help identify, avoid and report abuse of any kind.
Research conducted into the programme by leading Australian child safety advocate and academic, the late Dr Freda Briggs, found that children who completed the programme were more likely to actively keep themselves safe compared to those who had not.
Roly Hermans, coordinator of schools at Police National Headquarters, said despite the risk of dangerous strangers, children should be able to identify unsafe behaviour no matter who it came from.
Despite the beneficial outcomes, not all New Zealand schools enforce the programme.
Deputy Principal of Westmere School, Julie Lynch, said the programme was run every two years by a local constable.
Miss Lynch said the programme had been very successful and the support from local police was appreciated.
Mr Hermans advised parents to additionally implement safety education at home, which should include rehearsing “what if?” situations.