Holly recommends that it is important to put the learning into practice.
“Say you are walking in the park, it’s a great opportunity to talk to your child about what would happen if they couldn’t find mummy, or daddy, or grandma and they were worried. Explaining that they could ask someone for help and identifying someone in the park – for example a parent with a pram. Telling them to use their big voice to ask for help, so people could hear them better. Practising with them what they would say.”
Holly says that it is important to keep in mind that people generally want to help.
Key information for a child to know
Holly says that while it is important for children to know their full names, and the full names of their carers, the information isn’t as helpful as it once was.
“We no longer have phone books to use people’s name to look up phone numbers. It’s more important that children feel comfortable in seeking help when they get lost.”
Holly explains that the message of Safe Strangers is equally as important as talking to children about their feelings.
“We often just want our children to be happy, but to let them know that it is okay for them to feel sad or angry, so that when they are in a stressful situation, like being lost, they understand that they are scared and then know to go get help.”
Phone numbers are another useful tool, if your child is old enough to remember them. If not, writing it somewhere such as the bottom of their scooter is useful as long as the child is aware of it and knows to show the adult they are seeking help from.
Your child gets lost, now what?
With children, Holly recommends contacting the police straight away.
“Most police would respond instantaneously. It’s also not only the missing factor, there are also safety concerns when they are so little, such as traffic on roads or bodies of water if at the beach, for example.”
Seek help from key community members such as lifeguards or shop management. Holly says, “the world is good, Australia is very safe, and most people would be willing to help.”
Another tip is to think like a child, where would they go?
When found, Holly says it is important for the child not to get into trouble, but rather be praised for seeking help, or staying in the same place, depending on what you had taught them. That way, they are more likely to remember to do the same thing, should it happen again.