Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
OPINION ; Streetproof your kids
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 12 Apr 2006, p. 6

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It's every parent's worst nightmare. As an eight-year-old child strolls along the sidewalk on the way home from school, an unfamiliar automobile approaches from behind. As the vehicle pulls alongside the youngster, its driver's side window rolls down and a stranger with a big smile peers out and greets the child. The stranger reports having lost a puppy in the area and is asking for the child's assistance to search the neighbourhood by car. It should only take a few minutes and the stranger promises to drive the child right home after the dog is found. What would your child do? Would he politely refuse the offer and continue walking? Would he say no and run away from the stranger's vehicle? Or would he trust the person with the friendly face, feel sorry for them and proceed to get into the car? If instead the stranger approached and simply ordered your child into the vehicle, would their response be any different? With a recent string of incidents involving Halton schoolchildren being approached by strangers and asked to get in vehicles, local parents may want to consider reviewing their child's streetproofing skills. While police haven't officially offered any theories about any connection between these recent incidents, they are recommending parents ensure their children are practising street safety precautions including: · Children should play together and stay away from remote areas of parks and avoid loitering or taking short cuts home through secluded or wooded areas. · Do not go anywhere with a stranger and do not accept rides from them for any reason. Don't be afraid to say `no' to a stranger's request and run away quickly. · Report suspicious strangers immediately to an adult you know. · Never accept gifts of candies, toys or money from a stranger. · Always let your parents know where you are going. While Halton Hills is generally considered a safe community in which to raise a family, we must not be so naive as to think that we are any more immune to crime than other GTA communities. The challenge for every parent is to strike a balance between making their child feel safe and making them aware that there are some bad people out there.

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12 Apr 2006
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OPINION ; Streetproof your kids