Keeping children and young people safe – and feeling safe – is essential if they are to grow into healthy, happy and responsible adults who are able to fulfil their potential.
When young children feel safe and loved they feel good about themselves and thrive. Conversely, children growing up in families where they are neglected or abused may never have known the feeling of being safe.
Caring parents will go to great lengths to protect their children from potential danger and home hazards. Over time, however, children need more freedom and must go out into the world alone. Now they need to understand how to keep themselves safe because their parents might not be around.
Good parenting means teaching your child how to be safe in a variety of situations – on the road, on their bike and online. It means talking to them openly about potential risks and helping them to recognise abusive behaviour and to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Talk to them about strangers and how to get themselves out of threatening situations; however, be careful not to confuse them. Children are in more danger from people they already know than from strangers.
A young person’s choice in relationships, including friends and romantic partners, will inevitably have an impact on their safety. Young people frequently indulge in risk-taking behaviour like sexting, under-age drinking and drug-taking for no reason other than their friends are doing the same.
Ensuring children remain safe online is another big concern. With the majority of young people now having access to the internet via their mobile devices, it has become far more difficult for parents to keep an eye on their online activities than when there was just one computer in the home.
Keeping children safe so that they can grow into responsible, healthy and happy adults is an important aspect of children’s rights. This is much easier when children are young and decisions are made for them by adults. As children grow older, it’s natural that they want to make more decisions for themselves – and often challenge the decisions made by their parents.
Children’s rights help to keep young people safe by ensuring children are listened to, trusted and respected by their parents/carers and other adults in their lives.