www.gazette.education.govt.nz

Saturday 22 July 2017

Discussing behaviour danger

In light of recent media coverage about suspicious approaches to children, the New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Education are encouraging schools to have conversations with students about ‘behaviour danger’ rather than ‘stranger danger’.

“The concept of ‘stranger danger’ has been discredited and could be potentially dangerous. Research shows that harm to children is also likely to come from people known to them. Teaching kids about stranger danger may stop them from seeking help from strangers when they really need it,” says police prevention manager/communities, Inspector Paula Holt.

Behaviour danger refers to suspicious behaviour that could make kids feel unfamiliar, uncomfortable, unsafe or scared. Some examples of behaviour danger are unwanted approaches, inappropriate touch that could make kids feel uncomfortable, unwanted stares and random requests on social media for photos or personal information.

Hutt Central School principal Michael Gendall says that schools should work alongside their community constable to support families in having sensible guidelines for their children around safety. “It also needs to be a community-wide approach so kids can comfortably talk to their parents and schools about anything that’s bothering them.

“We need to have the same message from home and school about behaviours and things that are inappropriate. It’s important for kids to actually learn if it feels like it’s not right, it’s probably not right, and to know what to do. This could be an action from someone that’s known to them, but it could also be from someone that’s not known to them,” says Michael.

The Police’s Keeping Ourselves Safe programme for schools is working with school leaders, parents, whānau and caregivers to teach young children how to detect behaviour dangers and deal with them.

“While we acknowledge that parents are playing a more active role in protecting children and sharing information online about suspicious approaches to their kids, we would like to encourage them to work with local Police and schools to ensure that the information they’ll share online is accurate and won’t create unnecessary confusion and concern within our community,” says Paula.

More information about Keeping Ourselves Safe can be accessed through the New Zealand Police website: goo.gl/V7WUew.