Safer strangers safer buildings logo

Safer strangers, safer buildings code

If you get lost, or feel unsafe, and there is no adult around that you know and trust, look for a safer stranger who you can ask for help. If you can’t see a safer stranger outside, look for a safer building you can go in to, to ask for help from the people who work there.

Download the printable version of the code here


A safer stranger is a person who is working at their job which helps people. Safer strangers will usually be wearing a uniform. Safer strangers could be police officers, police community support officers, traffic wardens, shopkeepers, check-out assistants, paramedics and others.

Safer buildings could be banks, post offices, libraries, medical centres, shops, supermarkets, leisure centres and others.

Tell the safer stranger your name. Also, if you can, tell them the phone number of your parent or the person who looks after you.

Things to talk about with your child

The Safer strangers, safer buildings code can be used in two ways:

Safer strangers safer buildings smile As an emergency strategy by children of all ages if they get lost when out with parents or carers.

Safer strangers safer buildings smile To talk about with children when they get to the stage of going out without an adult.

Watch the Teigan gets lost film with your child(ren), and talk together about the safer strangers and safer buildings in your area.


A stranger can be described as someone that we don’t know or someone that we don’t know well. Say that nearly all people are kind but that there are a small number of people who might not be. You can say that as we don’t know a stranger we don’t know if they are kind or not. We cannot tell who is kind just by looking at them. We must never go anywhere with a stranger or do anything for a stranger. It doesn’t matter what they say to us, we should always tell the grown-up who looks after us if a stranger talks to us.

Safer strangers

You can say that even though these people are strangers we can call them safer strangers because everyone knows they are doing a job that helps people. Say that we can all recognise them quickly because of their uniforms.

Say that if your child(ren) can’t see a safer stranger outside, they should look for a safer building to go into, to ask for help from the people who work there. Ask your child(ren) to think of other examples of safer strangers and safer buildings besides those featured in the film.

Safer buildings

You can say that safer strangers can be found in safer buildings and that there are many where we live. A safer building is one where often there will be a reception desk and there will be someone there to help you. If a child needs help, hopefully they will be quite close to a community facility of this kind, and it will be safe for them to go there.


Help your child come to assimilate the Safer strangers, safer buildings code gradually, so that it eventually becomes ‘second nature’. Talk about it in a low-key, matter-of-fact way, whenever the opportunity arises naturally.

Go on lots of walkabouts together in your neighbourhood, chatting about the safer strangers and safer buildings on the way, so that your child gets to know your locality and feels confident and at ease. Talk about how they might put the code into practice. For example, if they get lost in a shopping centre, talk about how they could go into a shop and find the uniformed person at the till. If they are in a cinema, they should go to the ticket office to ask for help.

When you judge the time is right for your child, let them walk short distances with friends, to begin with. Gradually extend the routes and areas, going on ‘dummy runs’ together first.

When your child is ready, you could talk together about what they understand by the meaning of the words ‘trustworthy’ and ‘responsible’.

Using the phrase stranger danger

The phrase stranger danger can make children fearful of all strangers. This means that if they get lost or feel unsafe or are approached by a stranger, they would not know who they could turn to for help. The phrase safer strangers, safer buildings is a positive alternative, giving children an immediate strategy to use, as part of their growing understanding of stranger awareness.


Further information, guidance and resources

children’s safety education foundation logo

CSEF aims to help deliver preventative safety education to every child in the United Kingdom by:

Ensuring all children and their carers have access to high quality safety education Educating young people, parents and teachers about preventative safety through all available channels Highlighting and progressing issues of child safety

CSEF publishes a range of resources for children from Key Stage 1 to 3, parents, carers and teachers. CSEF’s workbooks offer child-friendly advice and are designed to address key elements of a child’s personal, social, health and citizenship education.

CSEF’s resources are available from their website.

suzy lamplugh logo

Suzy Lamplugh Trust aims to provide practical support and guidance to reduce people’s fear of crime, and to develop skills and strategies for keeping themselves safe.

Resources to help children develop the skills of safe independence include:

Downloadable guidance sheets, including Travelling safely to and from school

Think safety leaflet (7-12 years) – from online shop

Topics include:

  • safe places
  • getting home safely
  • strangers
  • using the Internet and mobile phones safely
Teach Safety – a new multimedia personal safety resource for primary schools (click onto for full details.)

Smart Kids - free online animation and game. In this animation and game, George explains about the safe places on his journey to and from school, where there are people he can ask for help, if he needs to.

A further site about online safety for children is

kidscape logo

Kidscape is committed to keeping children safe. With the help of parents, carers, teachers, police and other caring professionals, children are taught ways to deal with: bullies; good sense defence; approaches by strangers and even by known adults who may try to harm them.

Kidscape offers a Helpline for parents of children being bullied; publications; child safety training to prevent bullying and abuse; confidence-building sessions and advice and information-sharing with other caring organizations.

The Kidscape website offers extensive advice for children, parents and professionals, including downloadable booklets and FAQs about bullying and child safety.

Downloadable leaflets include:

  • Keeping Young Children Safe
  • Keep them safe
  • The Keepsafe Code
  • Keepsafe Extra
  • Good Sense Defence for the Young (from Kidscape Head Office)
An invaluable and reassuring book of short, illustrated stories is Feeling Happy, Feeling Safe, by Michelle Elliott, Director of Kidscape. This includes the story Getting Lost, in addition to Feeling Safe; Say No; Bullies; Someone You Don’t Know; Touching, and Secrets. The book also includes the Kidscape Keepsafe Code. The book is published by the Communication Directorate and may be purchased online from the Kidscape shop.

Work in schools

Some children are now being taught how to stay safe through special lessons at school conducted by police Youth and Community Liaison Officers, such as P.C. Helena in the Teigan gets lost film. Charities such as Kidscape and Suzy Lamplugh Trust, as well as ‘Crucial Crew’ teams, also run workshops where children are presented with challenging situations in role-play, and are taught a safety plan.

This involves children learning how to pay attention to any ‘funny feelings’ (e.g. heart beating faster, stomach ‘turning over’, etc.), which are telling the children that something is wrong. They also learn the ‘Yell, Run, Tell’ code, devised by Kidscape. If a child feels scared or uncomfortable, they should shout loudly (e.g. ‘Help! Stranger!’) and not just scream, in case people think they are only playing. They should get away as quickly as possible and find a safer stranger, or go inside a safer building and tell the safer stranger(s) there what has happened.

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