Personal safety outside of the home

As your child gets older, they will want to become more independent. Allowing children to start doing things by themselves will help increase their self-confidence and is an important part of growing up. Teaching children about personal safety and giving them the skills to make decisions will help them to be safe when they go out without you.

When can children go out by themselves?

There is no legal age at which you can start allowing your child to go out by themselves. As a parent, you must think about how mature your child is and what you think they will cope with. This will vary according to your child's age and personality.

Preparing children for independence is something you can start doing when they are very young long before they will actually be going anywhere without you. For instance you can talk about road safety and adults they can trust with them.

The NSPCC has produced a guide for parents called 'Is my child ready to go out alone' which contains a useful 'Safe and Sound Checklist'. This advises parents on key things they should teach their children before allowing them to go out without an adult.

Stranger danger

It is important that your child understands they cannot trust everyone they meet, however telling them they never talk to strangers is not right. There may be times when they need to do so such as if they are lost, afraid or need help.

It may help your child to talk to them about strangers who it would be safe to talk to. An example of this would be a Police Officer, who is wearing a uniform which shows he or she is there to help people.

Helping your teenager stay safe

Teenagers tend to want to spend more time with their friends and less time with their parents. They might develop new hobbies, go to new places, have a romantic partner and may experiment with alcohol or drugs. This can be an unsettling time for parents, as you worry about your child staying safe.

Support and advice about parenting teenagers is available through a number of services:

  • Relate has advice for parents about how to handle the new challenges that parenting a teenager can bring.
  • Family Lives has a helpline for parents and a forum where you can talk to other parents about life with a teenager.
  • The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is a leading charity promoting personal safety awareness. Online advice is available on various topics relevant to young people, such as personal safety for students, attending festivals and going for a run.
  • Drink Aware have an information section for parents on how to talk to children about alcohol, why children might drink and how to prevent underage drinking.

Clubs, hobbies and social clubs

Becoming part of a club or starting a new hobby can be a great way for young people to develop skills and independence. If you would like to find leisure activities or clubs for your child, Surrey Family Information Service can help. Our Directory hosts information on hundreds of local activities, sports and social clubs for young people in Surrey.

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