Parents urged to remind children about stranger danger as they return to school

The NSW Police Force is urging parents and carers to remind their children about the best ways to keep safe now COVID-19 restrictions are being eased and they are returning to school.

From tomorrow (Monday 25 May 2020), most NSW children will return to school on a full-time basis and, with many travelling to and from school on their own, police are encouraging parents to speak to their children about how to stay safe when they are not in the care of an adult.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, wants parents to feel reassured that as the community returns to more normal day to day activities, the commitment to keep people safe, particularly children, remains as strong as ever.

“As the government eases COVID-19 restrictions, we want the community to feel empowered to return to a way of life where they feel safe and protected,” Mr Elliott said.

“Police are often the frontline responders to child protection matters and we are constantly using better techniques and technology to detect child abuse.

“Police commands and districts across the state are already being bolstered with the introduction of child protection register officers whose job is to monitor the movements and activities of convicted sex offenders.”

Since July 2019, police have made 804 arrests of individuals for breaching their obligations under the child protection register, and 58 arrests for breaches of child protection prohibition orders.

Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec, said while most cases of child abuse were at the hands of a person known to the child or online, it is timely for parents to remind their children about the best ways to keep safe.

“With so many children returning to school, it is important we arm them with the knowledge of what they can do to stay safe when they are not in the care of an adult,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.

“While we are encouraged by the increased focus on online safety, parents should know that those who choose to exploit and abuse children are not limited to the internet.

“Police will always be committed to protecting kids from harm, but do not underestimate the impact you can have as a parent or carer by educating your children on how to stay safe.”

Some tips to provide your kids include:

  • Make sure your parents or the person responsible for you knows where you are at all times;
  • Don’t talk to people you don’t know and never get into a car with someone you don’t know. If a car stops on the side of the road and you don’t know the person inside, do not stop;
  • Walk near busier roads and streets, or use paths where there are lots of other people;
  • Always walk straight home or to the place you are walking to;
  • Know where safe places are – a shop, service station, police station, library or school. If you are ever frightened, you should go to one of these places and ask them to call the police;
  • Learn about safe adults you can look for and talk to if you need help – police officers, teachers at school, adults you know and trust; and
  • If you are scared, call Triple Zero (000) and tell them you are scared.

NSW Police also acknowledge that some young people will continue to be schooled at home and remind parents and carers to remain vigilant in ensuring their child’s safety online.

For information and educational packages for parents and children visit the ThinkUKnow website, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety: https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/

Additional information can be accessed via the eSafety website: https://www.esafety.gov.au/

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.

Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. People should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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