Helping to keep children safe from harm – new Gov.ie website launched

A new website has been launched to help support vulnerable children, young people and their families during this time of the Covid 19 pandemic. Here is the press release from the launch by Minister Katherine Zappone

Campaign encourages everyone to be mindful of vulnerable children and young people in these challenging times

Supporting Children is a portal on gov.ie, providing access to the many supports and services for children, young people and their families

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has today launched Supporting Children, a campaign to encourage everyone to be mindful of vulnerable children and young people in these challenging times. The Supporting Children campaign includes the launch of a new gov.ie webpage, gov.ie/supportingchildren, which will be an information hub for children, young people and their families on how to access the many supports and services provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and their funded organisations.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla have a robust infrastructure of services providing assistance to children, young people and families throughout Ireland, involving over 800 funded organisations. This existing system of supports, with an effective coordinating structure, was mobilised during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that vulnerable children and their families could still access the services they needed. These supports include services designated as essential front-line services in the COVID-19 crisis (those addressing child protection; children in care; domestic, sexual and gender based violence; and certain youth work services), other key supports (youth, community, and family services) and coordinating structures (Children and Young People’s Services Committees). These services responded and adapted in innovative ways to continue to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of children and young people.

Tusla continue with their essential work in child protection. Anyone with a concern about a child’s safety or welfare should contact their local duty social work office using details on the Tusla website.

Launching the campaign, Minister Zappone said:

“These have been and remain challenging times for children, young people and their families. We encourage everyone to look out for those who are vulnerable and be aware of the supports and services that exist through my department, Tusla and our many partner organisations in the community and voluntary sector. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked on new and innovative ways to ensure the welfare of children and young people and we will continue to do so. My department continues to lead in harnessing the contribution from all stakeholders in improving outcomes for children and young people. The Supporting Children website will help to ensure that these services continue to be readily accessible to those who need them by providing information on services in one place.”

The Supporting Children website provides information on Child Protection and Welfare, with guidance on how to report concerns about a child, as well as Parenting and Family Supports, Education Supports, Youth Services, services for Children in Care, and Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Services.

It shows the breadth of services and supports for children provided by the State and Community and Voluntary sectors and outlines the actions and innovations taken by services in responding to the challenges of COVID-19. The website also includes links and contact details to organisations such as Parentline, Childline, Barnardos as well as how to find local Family Resource Centres (FRC) and Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSC).

 

The website provides information on a number of topics including:

  • Parenting and Family Support
  • Child Protection and Welfare
  • Children in Care
  • Youth Services
  • Education Support
  • Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Services

The website can be accessed at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/42dcb-supporting-children/

 

Fifty Key Messages – How to teach my child about Stranger Danger

Q. In our area there was a concern that a strange man was approaching and talking to children at a local playground. The report was that he was trying to lure them away from the playground. The police were called and, though there was no one arrested they issued a general warning that we should all be careful in the local area and make sure to warn our children of the dangers from strangers and so on. My question is: how much you should talk to children about “stranger danger”. I have two girls aged six and eight and, generally, they are happy children. I have told them that they should only talk to people they know and that there are bad people out there. My older girl is a little bit of the anxious type and she tends to worry about things. She somehow picked up on the news about the playground and is now worried about going out. How much should I talk to her about things? I don’t want to scare her but I do want her to be safe.

A. Probably the greatest fear for any parent is that our children will come to some harm and we will not be able to protect them. The possibility of child abduction or harm from strangers is probably a worst nightmare for many parents. When such cases happen they are particularly tragic and draw a lot of media attention and sympathy from families. However, we should assess these risks realistically and put these fears in context. Though incidents of child abduction or harm from strangers receive a lot of media attention, they are remarkably rare events, particularly when compared with other dangers. For example, in the last 20 years in Ireland and the UK, there has only been a handful of child abductions, yet in the same time many thousands of children have been killed or seriously injured in road traffic incidents, either as pedestrians or passengers. In simple terms, this means that children are thousands of times more likely to be harmed on the road than to be abducted and harmed by a stranger.

Of course, it makes sense to warn children of risks and to take practical steps to keep them safe, but we must be sensible and address the main risks that they are really facing.

In your question you raise the important issue of not scaring children when you warn them of dangers. This is an important issue as “scare tactics” are not as effective as positive safety messages and can make sensitive children who are prone to being nervous scared of doing everyday things. While you do want to let children know of dangers, you need to counterbalance this with a more positive message of keeping safe. For example, rather than telling children that there are “bad people” out there who can harm you, it is better to emphasise a safety message such as they should never go anywhere or take anything from a stranger, or to remind them that “mummy and daddy will only send someone they know to collect you” or that they should never go anywhere different without asking mummy or daddy first.

In addition, simple vigilance as a parent will make the most difference in ensuring young children’s safety. Knowing where they are at all times, making sure they are with trusted adults and children, making sure to collect them at agreed times, having rules about being in at a certain time and so on, are all parenting habits that will keep young children safe.

While most children have a natural shyness from strangers, some children are more impulsive and can have little natural fear of danger, especially when they are younger. As a result, these children can be more likely to “wander off” or “go off with anyone” and could therefore be at more risk. As a result these children need much more parental supervision, as well as frequent warnings of danger and constant reminders of keeping safe. Luckily, many of these impulsive traits can fade as they get older and they can take on parents’ warnings.

On the other hand, it is important to adopt a different approach with a child who is more naturally nervous or anxious, like your older daughter. Spending too much time reminding of them of danger may overwhelm them with anxiety and may be unnecessary as their natural fears would mean they are going to stay away from strangers anyway. In this situation, it may be more effective to talk through the issues in a more balanced way with your daughter. First, listen carefully to what she knows already about what happened and what her fears are. If she says she is nervous about going out, remind her of all the safety strategies she is taking such as staying with friends, coming in on time, as well as all the steps she could take if she felt in danger such as walking away, contacting you, going to someone trustworthy such as a teacher and so on. Finally, a core part of the school curriculum is teaching children about road and personal safety. Check in with your children’s school about the issue and when they are teaching the subject to your children – this is a good time for you to talk through the issue at home as well. In particular, the Stay Safe programme is taught throughout schools in Ireland and this teaches children in an age-appropriate way about protecting themselves from bullying child abuse and victimisation – the key message being “saying no and telling someone”. The Stay Safe website at staysafe.ie describes the programme and there is an excellent free guide for parents that describes in very practical terms how you can keep your own children safe.

John Sharry, Irish Times Newspaper, June 26th 2012.

Source: Solution Talk

For more Key Messages see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/

Fifty Key Messages – Tips for your child on the internet

(From Tusla’s parenting24seven website)

You can help your child get the benefits of using the internet while avoiding some of the risks. Here are some guidelines for keeping your child safe on the internet:

Be informed and ‘net-savvy’

The best safeguard against online dangers is being informed and familiar with the internet. Often children know more about new technology than adults so it’s important you know your way around the internet and then you can help children protect themselves from various internet dangers.

Supervision

Keep the computer in a busy part of the house, where the screen can always be seen. Let the children know that their activities on the computer will be supervised.

Helping Children Use Computers

Use the Internet with your child. Let them lead but stay with them until you are sure they using it appropriately. You can also check your Internet browser history to make sure they have been accessing suitable sites.

Keep an open dialogue

Keep the communication lines open and cultivate an interest in children’s online activities—their favourite Web sites, online games and interests, and discuss what they are doing. Talk to your children about the benefits and dangers of the Internet and don’t be afraid to ask who they are talking to online and what they are talking about. Tell your child always to let you know if an online ‘friend’ they don’t know in real life wants to meet them.

Agree on a game plan / rules of use

Discuss computer guidelines and rules for using the internet with the children. Post a print out of these rules near the computer as a reminder.

Possible issues to include in these guidelines are:
  • Duration of use – time allowed on the computer
  • Sites allowed to access
  • Always tell an adult if they have received scary, inappropriate or threatening messages.
  • Never share personal information on the Internet such as your name, address, telephone number, school name etc without your parents/carer’s permission. Never send pictures of your family, friends or yourself to anyone online without permission either.
  • Be aware of the potential dangers online – adults pretending to be children; business companies wanting mobile information to take money off your phone; dangerous people; spam emails that can spread a virus in your computer and access personal and banking information.
  • Do not open emails from people you don’t know.
  • Never agree to meet people that you have met online and inform parents/ guardians if people ask to meet you in person.

InternetSafety is one website that has an example of a Family Game Plan that you can use.

Protect your computer

Take advantage of the software that exists to help parents manage their children’s computer experience. In only a few minutes, parental control software such as Magic Desktop or Safe Eyes can block inappropriate websites, restrict the amount of time that your kids use the Internet, and monitor their Instant Messenger chats to protect against predators.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones can also access the Internet these days and the above rules/gameplan need to be applied if your child has access to the internet through their phone. If your child is sent inappropriate material, pictures or texts on their phone they need to let a parent/ supervising adult know. Again it is vital that the lines of communication are kept open so that you know what messages your child is sending and receiving.

FURTHER INFO

For more Key Messages check out https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/6-12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – Is your child affected by bullying?

(From Tusla’s parenting24seven website – link below)

Bullying is the repeated abuse of a child by one or several other children or adults. Incidences of bullying need to be taken very seriously. Your child will need lots of support if they are being bullied or if they have been accused of bullying themselves.

1. Look out for signs that your child is being affected by bullying, for example:

  • Being withdrawn
  • Not sleeping
  • Not eating
  • Not wanting to play with their friends
  • Being more ‘clingy’ than usual
  • Overly anxious

2. Tell your child you will take action in relation to the bullying.

3. If the bullying is happening at school, talk to the teacher and ask to see the policies and protocols that apply to bullying.

4. Ensure that there is a plan put in place to manage the bullying situation. Keep in touch regularly with the school and keep your child informed.

See also: http://hse.ie/eng/services/publications/Children/Parents_who_listen_protect_English_.pdf

For more Key Messages check out https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/6-12-years/

50 Key Messages Staying safe at home for 0 – 5 year olds

Staying safe at home

Taken from the Tusla Parenting24Seven website https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/0-5years/

Things you can do to keep your child safe:

Childproof your home.

This is especially important when your child is learning to walk and becoming more mobile.

Safety in the Kitchen and Living room:

Scalding:

  • Be careful with hot drinks – a cup of tea or coffee (with milk) spilling over a baby or young child can result in severe scalds 15 minutes after the drink has been made.
  • Never heat your baby’s bottle in the microwave: the milk can be heated unevenly and could scald your baby’s mouth. Reheat in a bowl of warm water.
  • Reduce the temperature setting of water heaters and/or install thermostatic mixing valves on individual taps.

Choking:

  • Young children have small airways, when means that it doesn’t take much to block their windpipe which carries air to their lungs.
  • Always supervise your children when they are playing. Watch out for older children sharing unsuitable objects with your younger child.
  • Ensure that any food that young children are eating are small bite size pieces to avoid choking.

Safety in the Bathroom:

Drowning:

Babies can drown in just a few centimetres of water – very quickly and without noise or struggle. They need constant supervision when around water so make sure they are never left alone while bathing – not even for a few seconds.

Medicine and Poisons:

Store all medicines in child proof containers and well out of the reach of children. All medicines are potentially harmful to children.
See also www.poisons.ie

Driveways and Gardens

  • Young children are especially at risk in driveways and carparks. They don’t yet realise how dangerous cars and bikes are and can get highly absorbed in whatever they are doing including chasing a ball behind a car!
  • Always hold your child’s hand near cars, even in your own driveway. Explain why it is important that they hold your hand.
  • Check and double-check where your child is before you reverse your vehicle. Reversing drivers find it very difficult to see small children behind their cars.
  • Children should always be supervised when using outdoor play equipment.

* information taken from Lifestart Foundation Keep Safe Programme www.lifestartfoundation.org and HSE Child Safety Awareness Programme (CSAP) www.hse.ie/childsafety

Fifty Key Messages: Child safety – picking the right car seat for your child

Types of child car seats

(Taken from the RSA website https://www.rsa.ie/en/RSA/Road-Safety/Child-Safety-in-Cars/Types-of-child-car-seats/

A properly fitted child restraint system keeps the child in their seat, preventing them from being thrown about inside or being thrown from the vehicle. It also absorbs some of the impact force. This means that your child is much less likely to be killed or injured in a crash.

An appropriate child restraint is one which:

  • conforms to the UN standard, ECE Regulation 44-03, or a later version of the standard, 44.04, or new i-Size (Regulation 129). Look for the E mark;
  • is suitable for the child’s weight and height;
  • is correctly fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Child restraints are categorised according to the weight of the children they are suitable for. These weight categories correspond broadly to different age groups, but it is the weight of the child that is most important when deciding what type of child restraint to use.

These categories are often called ‘groups’ by manufacturers and retailers. There are four main child car seat groups – Groups 0, 1, 2 and 3. However, some child restraints systems are convertible and can be adapted as the child grows. This means that the restraint system could fit into more than one group. For example, the high back of a Group 2 booster seat might be designed to be removed so that the seat works just as a booster cushion when the child reaches 22kgs (48lbs). This seat, therefore, falls into both Group 2 and Group 3.

 

Look at the chart to help you find out what type of car seats are suitable for your child’s weight.

Here is the chart in a pdf format Child Safety in Cars – Weight Chart – Feb 2016

For more information about car and booster seats, the Child Safety in Cars leaflet is available in many different languages:

Child_Safety_in_Cars_English

Child_Safety_in_Cars_Irish

Child_Safety_in_Cars_French

Child_Safety_in_Cars_Polish

Child_Safety_in_Cars_Chinese

Child_Safety_in_Cars_Lithunian

See the Road Safety Authority website for more information.

For more Key Messages to support your parenting see  https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/0-5years/