Streetwise Kids

We all shake our heads in disbelief when we imagine a scary world where children are closeted and unable to even walk freely as far as the corner shop, but sadly with violent crime constantly in the media, it seems that this is exactly the protective approach many parents are taking to keep their offspring safe.

With incidents against children regularly reported, both children and their parents are worried about the dangers that exist on the streets we live in and often resort to extreme measure to keep their children in the house. It's easy to bury your head in the hand and hope that you will never have to deal with the aftermath of an incident, but sadly no-one is immune and it pays to stay aware.

Parents need to get the balance right by cultivating independence whilst also making sure that children are street savvy and aware. By creating a sense of trust that cuts both ways, parents are able to talk to their youngsters, enabling them to experience the big wide world but at the same time staying safe. It may seem like an issue that is too uncomfortable to be broached with innocent children, but informing young people about potential dangers and teaching them strategies to avoid confrontation can mean they are actually better equipped to deal with any obstacles they encounter whilst out and about.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start with difficult subjects, but by opening the lines of communication, parents and young people can begin to share ideas and learn from each other. A good starting point is to talk about body language and its impact. By walking purposefully, avoiding eye contact and not dawdling, a person can convey an aura of confidence and make themselves look as if they are headed somewhere in particular.

With the amount of technology that children and teenagers carry about these days, it's a worry that they may become complacent while plugged into their phone or iPod, but by remaining aware of their surroundings, they are less likely to be caught unaware and subjected to any kind of attack. Teach your child to turn their equipment off whenever possible, but particularly in unfamiliar environments, when there is no-one around or it is dark.

Encourage your child to pair up with a friend when walking to or from school. Discourage them from walking down lonely alleyways or subways and equip them with relevant numbers to call in the event of any trouble.

There are, of course, organisations that can help and safety programmes are regularly rolled out across schools and youth groups. By learning a few basic techniques, confidence and self-esteem can be boosted, meaning your child knows how to handle themselves without resorting to violence or conflict. This makes them less likely to be targeted or to become a victim.

In addition to this, it can be useful to undertake some form of self-defence training, such as martial arts, which can be used as a last resort if things turn nasty. By developing skills and learning how to handle any situation, our young people are giving themselves the best possible chance of staying out of trouble and having a happy, carefree childhood.