We plan our Christmas presents, our food for Christmas Dinner, and our summer holiday. But what about planning to ensure our children are safe over the holidays?
Child Matters, New Zealand's child abuse prevention specialists, want to remind parents and caregivers that at this time of year we must be extra vigilant and mindful of potential risks to children.
Amanda Meynell, Child Matters' National Manager, Child Protection Education and Advisory Service says "Over holiday periods we often do activities that we don't normally do during the year, exposing our children to different situations that may have the potential to put them at risk."
"Christmas and New Year can also be very social times, and children are often present. Think about how you'll ensure they are kept safe over the holiday season."
"It doesn't mean wrapping your kids in cotton wool. It is simply about thinking ahead and putting safety plans in place for both yourself and your children."
Mrs Meynell has outlined 8 simple tips to help ensure that your children have a positive and safe holiday season:
1. Make sure you have at least one safe non-drinking person, who will supervise your children.
2. Arrange a babysitter prior to the event.
3. If your child is having a sleep over at a friend's home ask yourself how well you know this family. Have you actually met them? Make sure your child knows that if they feel worried or unsafe they can ring you and you will come and get them.
4. Before children go to any activities eg movies, swimming etc discuss personal safety skills with them. Make a firm plan and make sure they are clear about who will pick them up, where and when. What is their safety plan if they are worried about something?
5. If you are camping in any public camping ground you need to make sure you know where your children are at all times, particularly regarding toileting, showering, sleeping and social activities.
6. Set up some rules so you know where your children are. How regularly are they required to "check in" with you?
7. Take time to fully understand any electronic game your child might receive at Christmas as some games may look innocent and harmless but are actually violent and inappropriate for children. When hiring DVD's check the age restriction. If older children are babysitting (remember the legal age is 14 years) what are the rules about any DVD's they may watch while undertaking their babysitting duties?
8. Monitor daily what your children have accessed on the Internet.
For more information about child abuse prevention and detection see www.childmatters.org.nz.