At Constable Care, our priority is the safety of WA’s kids, but there are also many other organizations and individuals doing wonderful things in the child safety sphere (and you’ll be hearing more about them on our website, and through the Child Safety Awards!)
There are some great things that every concerned Western Australian can do to make the state a safer place for its most valuable asset: our children. Here’s some tips for how you can be a child safety champion in your community!
Teach your children about safety
There are many child safety rules that we learned from our parents that kept us safe when we were growing up, and that we've passed down to our children. But there's also new safety issues facing children today: levels of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are on the rise, and cyber-bullying is a relatively new phenomenon which is disturbingly common and very painful to its victims.
But there's also the good old lessons that were just as relevant when you were growing up: identify any safety hazards in your area, and make sure that your kids know about them; make sure they let you know where they are at all times, that they know road safety rules, and that they're not straying further afield from home than you think they're ready for!
There's also an excellent system called Protective Behaviours which teaches children that they have the right to be safe at all times, how they can protect themselves from abuse, and to speak up if they're ever feeling unsafe. Constable Care uses Protective Behaviours methodology in its curriculum, and we strongly recommend that parents familiarize themselves with this system as well; young children can find personal safety issues to be very confusing, and the better equipped they are with an understanding of their rights, the more likely they will feel empowered to go to you if they need help.
Be proactive about child safety
There's a lot that you can do to make your community a safer place for all children. There are many non-profit organizations working either directly or indirectly in the child safety sphere (such as the wonderful Constable Care, of course!) who you could volunteer or donate to. You could also get in contact with your local council and ask if there's any programs that you could help out with; for example, 30 Local Governments around WA are involved in the Roadwise Bin Stickers program, which has involved 130,000 road safety stickers being placed on wheelie bins across the state. Your childrens' school may also have initiatives that you can help out with, such as a Walking School Bus.
Additionally, you may have skills, knowledge, work or life experience that could be very helpful to the field of child safety. Ask around and see if there's an organization where you could put these to good use in helping others. It's a wonderful feeling to see what a difference you can make.
Promote child safety at work
Is the organization that you work for child-safe? If children come into your organization for any reason, then it's important that the organization takes steps to ensure that they have developed child safety policies, and that they also listen to the children's feedback about how the organization could be safer. The WA Commissioner for Children and Young People has developed an excellent set of comprehensively-researched guidelines which are a must-see for any organization looking to implement or improve upon their existing child safety policies.
Be a change-maker
Is there somewhere in your community where you see a need? Have you identified something that's a safety hazard, or noticed a social problem and decided you'd like to be part of the solution? Whether it's more lighting on a dark street, getting a pothole fixed on the pavement, or an issue effecting the health & happiness of children in your community, you could be the one to change things. One person can make such a huge difference when they set their mind to it. You might be surprised how many projects are used nationwide (or even worldwide) to keep children safe, that actually started off as an idea in the head of a motivated Western Australian!
Written by Lara Silbert for CCCSF