Crime Prevention for Parents
Building partnerships and positive relationships with youth are at the heart of many of our community programs. York Regional Police is proud of the work they do every day to support and educate young people within York Region.
Street-proofing and crime prevention messages should be taught to children from a young age. The trick is to educate without instilling fear. Children learn from repetition, gentle reminders and watching the behaviour of others, so remember to practice what you preach.
It is never too early to teach your children about crime prevention and street-proofing. Very young children are capable of calling 9-1-1 or pushing “0” on a telephone. They are also capable of understanding simple stranger danger messages and learning to trust their instincts.
York Regional Police employs a Whole School Approach to educating youth once they reach school age. More than 25,000 students in Grades 1 to 5 learn important, age-appropriate safety messages each year at the Community Safety Village. Youth Education Officers deliver the Values, Influences and Peers program to Grade 6, 7 and 8 students, addressing topics such as theft, drugs, vandalism, relationships and bullying.
In our secondary schools, School Liaison Officers are highly visible through regularly scheduled visits with both students and faculty. School Liaison Officers actively participate in school events and are responsible for responding to calls for police from the schools.
Many of our programs have been developed with parents and guardians in mind, to assist them in educating their children on the complex issues they face in today’s fast-paced world and to encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices.
General Safety Tips:
- Teach your children to trust their feelings and that they have the right to say “NO”, even to an adult
- Keep your child’s current physical description and a full- face photograph (like their school photograph) in an accessible place
- Teach your child their last name, phone number, address and where you work.
- Teach your children how to dial 9-1-1 or 0 and what to say
- Never leave children under the age of 12 unattended at home and never leave your child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute
- Know where your child is and let them know where you are, so they learn by example
- Keep track of your child’s friends and have their addresses and phone numbers
- Don’t put their names on clothing, knapsacks, bikes or toys
- Teach your children to avoid talking to strangers
- Listen when your child tells you that they don’t want to be with someone and find out why
- Be alert to an adult or teenager paying too much attention to your child
- Identify safe houses in the neighbourhood where they may go in an emergency
- Practice safe walking routes to school, to the park, to friends’ homes etc.
- Have a secret code word that only you and they know. They are not to go with anyone else unless that person provides the secret code to your child
Be Net Aware
Be Net Aware is a comprehensive program that is geared toward protecting our children from Internet predators.
Components of the program include a compelling educational video/DVD presentation and contracts for parents and children to sign to establish reasonable guidelines for Internet use.
The Be Net Aware program arms our residents, parents, guardians, children and educators with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their children from online predators at home.
Take advantage of these materials to teach your children about Internet Safety and always follow these safety tips:
- Children should never give anyone their name, address, telephone number, computer password, or any other personal information on the Internet without parental or guardian consent
- Children should stay out of all chat rooms and websites that are not first approved by their parent or guardian
- The computer should be in a central place in your home where you can supervise their online activities
- Don’t allow a webcam in a child’s bedroom
- Watch for children quickly minimizing sites they are on when you enter the room
- Talk to your children about Internet safety
Remember danger could be just a keystroke away
Download the Be Net Aware Video here
Download a web surfing agreement for kids under 10
Download a web surfing agreement for kids over 10
It’s Not Just a Game
The It’s Not Just a Game Program is designed to educate kids, parents, relatives and caregivers about responsible gaming. It explains the dangers of playing violent video games at an inappropriate age and clearly sets out the ratings system that is so important to ensure age-appropriate gaming. The program also details the harmful effects these games can have on kids who may not be old enough for the material being presented and the risks to younger children who may not be playing the games themselves, but watching older siblings as they play.
The It’s Not a Game program consists of an educational video and pamphlet children can take home with them to share with their families. Here are some of the facts included in the program:
- The average child sees 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of violence before they finish Grade 8
- Studies have proven that playing violent video games can increase a person’s aggressive thoughts and feelings
- Experts believe that violent video games may be more harmful than violent television shows and movies because they put the player in the position of aggressor
The It’s Not Just a Game Program gives parents and caregivers the tools to help their children make positive choices. Here are some tips included in the program:
- Educate yourself on the existing video games ratings system
- Check out a video game yourself before you let your child play it
- Talk to your children about the harmful effects negative images can have on them
- Limit the amount of time your children play video games
Watch the video here
Download the brochure here
A gang is three or more people, formally or informally organized, engaged in a pattern of criminal behaviour creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear within any community and who may have a common name or identifying sign or symbol.
Parents who are concerned their child might be considering hanging out with or joining a gang should watch for these behaviours:
- Heightened interest in gang-influenced music, video games, movies and websites
- Drawings or symbols on books or clothes
- New tattoos
- Unexplained injuries (fighting-related bruises, injuries to hands, knuckles)
- Unexplained cash or property
- Missing cash or jewelry
- Clothing – colours, headbands
- Negative changes in behaviour – withdrawing from family, friends, declining attendance, performance at school, consistently breaking rules, drug use
Parents can help guide their child away from gang involvement. Try these tips:
- Spend time with your child
- Be a positive role model
- Encourage good study habits
- Encourage participation in school-sponsored and extra-curricular activities
- Set rules and curfews and stick to them
- Talk to your child about the dangers of gangs
- Encourage your child to report illegal activity to police or school authorities
York Regional Police School Liaison Officers can be a resource for parents with concerns. Contact the Community Services Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6709 for more information.
Graffiti is the illegal defacing of property by painting or otherwise marking it with words, pictures or symbols. The majority of graffiti involves “tags”, which are personalized signatures or “throw ups”, which are multi-coloured, bubble lettering painted on mailboxes, hydro poles, bridges or walls.
Graffiti has a negative effect on our communities in many ways. It contributes to reduced property values, a decline in commercial sales, increased crime rates in affected areas, wasted tax dollars for clean-up and decreased use and enjoyment of public facilities. It diminishes citizens’ feelings of safety and security.
Parents should learn the signs that their child may be involved in graffiti. While many “taggers” consider themselves artists, this activity is vandalism and is illegal. There is a very real cost to businesses and municipalities who must pay to clean up after vandals.
Watch for these signs:
- Paint stains on your child’s hands, clothing, knapsack
- Possession of graffiti-related items such as markers, etching tools, spray paint, rubber gloves, adhesive stickers, sketch books or collections of photos, drawings or graffiti magazines
- Excessive interest in graffiti through conversation or markings on their clothing, walls, lockers, books, school assignments and bags
- Internet activity will show frequent visits to graffiti websites and related conversations with friends
If you see these signs, talk to your child about his/her activities. They may not be aware of the negative effects of graffiti on the wilder community or that it is a criminal offence.
Drugs and Alcohol
York Regional Police is committed to ensuring youth are aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the benefit of making healthy lifestyle choices. Parents should be aware of the signs of alcohol and drug use and learn ways to speak to children about these issues.
It is not unusual for teens to experiment with alcohol or drugs. They may be being pressured to do so by their friends or they may be feeling stressed out and looking for a way to feel good. They may look at it as an opportunity to rebel against authority – including yours.
Try to warn your children to expect these pressures and give them the tools to resist - such as walking away, hanging out with other friends, using sports or other activities as an excuse not to participate, etc.
- Encourage your children to talk to you about their lives, friends and activities. Start at a young age and make those conversations a regular part of your family life
- Talk to your children about the dangers of alcohol and drug use. Start at a young age
- Know their friends and their friends’ parents
- Decide in advance how you will react if your child tells you he/she has or is using alcohol or drugs
- Ask them their views on drinking and drug use and respect what they say even if you don’t agree
- If you suspect your child is lying to you about alcohol or drug use, show them your main concern is their health and welfare
- Let them know you are available in case of trouble (a ride, cab fare)
- Let them know that you know what’s going on
- Help them understand they are responsible for their actions and the consequences that follow
- Know where they are going and with whom
- Don’t try to talk to your child about alcohol or drugs if you suspect they have been drinking or using
- Model responsible alcohol use, including not drinking and driving
- Be clear about the dangers and consequences of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
With all the excitement that comes with prom, it’s easy for teens to get caught up in the moment and forget basic precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. Encourage your child to be a young person who makes responsible choices and who encourages others to do the same.
Talk to your child about not drinking alcohol or any other substance that will compromise their ability to make good decisions. Making a bad choice can ruin a special evening – an evening that should be a lasting memory.
Here are some safety tips you can encourage your child to follow:
- Do not drink alcohol. The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19 years and most Grade 12 students are only 17 or 18 years old
- Do not drink and drive. According to MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) two out of five people who die in crashes involving alcohol are 25 years of age and under. More teens die each year as a result of road crashes than any other cause of death
- Do not enter a vehicle with a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Discuss your plans with friends and remind each other about responsible decision-making and confronting peer pressure
- Be careful if operating a motor vehicle and try to anticipate the actions of other drivers. Be aware of the fact that there are inattentive and dangerous drivers on our roadways and remember, driving defensively is something that should be practiced at all times
- Arrange for transportation before and after the party, for example, public transit, taxis, limousines or parents
- Tell a parent or guardian your itinerary for the evening. Let them know who you will be with, where you will be going after the prom along with phone numbers to contact you, how you will be getting there and getting home