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.
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 childThe Safer strangers, safer buildings code can be used in two ways: As an emergency strategy by children of all ages if they get lost when out with parents or carers. To talk about with children when they get to the stage of going out without an adult. Watch the Teigan gets lost film www.childseyemedia.com/safety.html with your child(ren), and talk together about the safer strangers and safer buildings in your area.
StrangersA 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 strangersYou 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 buildingsYou 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.
WalkaboutsHelp 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 dangerThe 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
Travelling safely to and from school Think safety leaflet (7-12 years) – from online shop Topics include:
Work in schoolsSome 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 www.crucial-crew.org, 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.