Safety planning

Creating a safety plan with your child can help protect and empower them if they find themselves in uncomfortable or unsafe situations. It helps promote resiliency and connection to the community.

It’s important to start safety planning when your children are young and then evolve the plan as they get older. Try to keep the door open so that your child will come to you or another trusted adult when they need help, even if they think they've made a "mistake."

If you're not there and engaging for the small things, then how are they ever going to come to you for the big things? 1

Planning tips

1. Identify safe adults: Help identify other trusted adults in your family, at school and in your neighbourhood that your child can go to for questions or help in any situation.

2. Create a contact directory: Create a directory for your child with contact details for yourself, other safe adults and emergency services to keep on their phone, in their bag or in their wallet. Teach them how to call 911 if needed.

3. Establish a code word: A code word makes it easier for your child to discreetly ask for immediate help. No judgment attached.

  • Choose a word or phrase they can call or text in any situation where they feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • Decide in advance on the action plan if they call or text this code, such as:
    • Pick them up from their location.
    • Meet them somewhere decided upon.
    • Call the police.

4. Know their friends and whereabouts: Knowing who your child is regularly meeting or talking to is an important step in ensuring their safety.

  • Find out where they are going, who with, what they plan to do and when to expect them home. There are apps you can use to track your child’s location.
  • If they are going to sleepovers, speak to the parents and get their address and contact details.

5. Discuss travel options

  • Decide if you will be dropping them off and picking them up.
  • If they are old enough to travel alone, discuss safety around using public transit or driving with friends.
  • If booking ride shares, make sure they check ratings, as well as verify that the driver and car match the photo and license plate on their phone app.

6. Be aware of their environment

  • If they are going to an unfamiliar location, encourage them to pay attention to the address and surrounding neighbourhood.
  • Help them recognize parties that could potentially be unsafe. For example: they arrive at a party in a house that appears as if nobody lives there; there seems to be a lot of focus on getting the young women at the party intoxicated; if images and videos are being taken without consent; or if the age gap seems too wide between guests.

7. Create exit scripts

Peer pressure can be overwhelming and sometimes it can be hard to say "no."

  • Help your child develop and practise exit scripts that they can use to get out of an unsafe situation or avoid someone who is making them feel uncomfortable.

8. Carry emergency cash

  • Ensure they always carry emergency cash, or have an e-wallet with emergency money in case they need to leave and pay for things like a cab ride or bus fare.
  1. Covenant House Toronto, & Ipsos Public Affairs. (2018). A National Sex Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Study