If you’re a baby boomer then you‘ll remember the good old days when you played outside all day and complained vehemently when you were told to go inside for the night… these days, our children are stuck indoors in front of a TV, or behind a computer screen or video game of some sort…
If you take a look outside these days the streets are fairly empty and many communities don’t have children playing outside at all. We’ve become somewhat paranoid and the game has changed. It seems like the children have lost their freedom to play safely outside by themselves and with their friends because of predators. Instead we now have very controlled environments of driving your child to a friend’s house or taking them to various extra curricular activities which cost money, and still keep children cooped up inside.
Here are some things you can do to make it safer to let your kids play outside:
- If several children on your road like to play together, you can get together as adults and create a rota system to decide who will keep an eye on all the kids while the others are getting important things done. But, there must be some firm rules in place – like who can and can’t be on the rota. You may, for example, only want mums on the rota, and require a minimum of two mums at any given time to ensure that no single person gets distracted while keeping an eye on a large number of children.
- Play games with your children outside – someone who is looking to annoy, tease or do harm, is less likely to do so if active adults are on the scene.
- Have a plan in case of emergency – a family plan firmly in place and understood by all may be more successful then not having a plan at all. An example of something you can do, is hang a whistle on a string. Every time the kids go out they put the whistle around their necks. They are taught that they blow the whistle hard in an emergency situation only! Tell them the cry wolf story and let them know what the consequences are for blowing the whistle in a non-emergency situation. Can you imagine if all parents in your area are grooved in on this and you hear a whistle go off, you may have half a dozen people or more flying out the door instantly to investigate.
- Self-defence lessons – adults are obviously much stronger than children but that doesn’t mean that a child cannot hurt an adult. Karate or Tae Kwan Do classes can be of benefit to boys and girls alike and can equip them with some skills in case of danger. It not only builds character and strength, but it can also teach them how to get out of certain grips and holds and where to hit in an emergency situation. It may be enough to get away. Also, it’s a great way to keep them fit and healthy.
- Make children aware of danger signs – if children learn early on basic safety precautions, it becomes a life long habit. Basic things like not speaking to strangers, or helping give directions right up at a car, for example, can go a long way.