Tips for keeping your children safe in Canada
By Maria Montemayor
Posted on May 24, 2021
When it comes to your children, you always want to protect them and make them feel safe. This is particularly true when you’re living in a new country like Canada, where you are unfamiliar with the customs and don’t know many people. What are some precautions that your kids can take? How can they keep themselves safe?
1. Memorize parents’ full names, phone numbers, email addresses, and home address
It is important for children to know their parents’ basic contact information in case of an emergency—for example, if a child gets lost or injured. It’s recommended that they memorize the phone number of an emergency contact, like that of an aunt or uncle. If your kids are under six years old, have them try to remember at least one phone number.
2. Do not open the door for strangers
If children are left home alone, they should avoid opening the door for strangers. You can instruct them on how to keep the doors locked. Three provinces (New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Ontario) have legal age limits for leaving children home alone. In New Brunswick and Manitoba, a parent cannot leave a child under 12 years old unattended without making arrangements for appropriate supervision. In Ontario, only those 16 years old or older can be left home alone.
3. Do not accept food from—or go anywhere with—a stranger
Your children should know that strangers who approach them when they are unsupervised may not have the best intentions. While it’s OK if a stranger talks to your kids, if he offers them food (when a parent is not around), they should politely turn down the offer. If the stranger asks them to go somewhere with him (his car, his house, the parking lot etc.), they should refuse. If the stranger becomes aggressive, your children should yell and run away.
If your kids don’t have a phone and get lost while in a store, they can ask the store clerk to call you and wait for you to pick them up. If they are in an open area (park, festival, etc.), they can ask a woman with children to call you.
4. No one is allowed to touch you without your consent
Even at a young age, kids should be allowed to say “no” to someone (relative, family member, stranger, or friend) who wants to hug or kiss them or shake their hand. If they don’t want to be touched, they should not be forced to show affection. On that same note, as a parent, you should let your children know the names of their body parts. If there is an inappropriate or unwanted touch, they shouldn’t be afraid to tell the offender “stop it” and “don’t do that.” Also, you should let your kids know that they can tell you if a person touches them inappropriately or makes them feel uncomfortable.
In the same way, your children should learn that they shouldn’t touch people without their consent or pets without the consent from their owners. They also should not approach or touch wild animals or unfamiliar plants.
5. Do not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable
Often children experience peer pressure and bullying. Classmates might ask your kids to hand over their money or food, and they might feel forced to do those things. Their peers may even ask them to participate in dangerous dares and activities (like drug use and harming other people or animals). Your children may even meet strangers on social media who seem like ordinary kids but are actually grown adults. Those strangers may ask for personal information or inappropriate photos.
In all of these scenarios, you have to teach your children how to say “no.” If any person on social media says or does anything inappropriate to them, they should be immediately blocked. If the peer pressure or bullying at school is overwhelming, be prepared to move your kids to a different school. Children should always feel safe when they are online or at school.