Grooming safety-conscious kids

The essence of imbibing safety culture among children most especially cannot be over-emphasised. Their vulnerability subject them to a lot of hazards in the home, school, playgrounds and even at gatherings. However, what is most important is helping them learn about how they can be safe, avoid accidents and grow up to be safety-conscious adults.

For child safety educationist and enthusiast Ugochi Obidiegwu, the major cause of accidents is human error. The machines might be working well, the safety systems might be in place, but if the human beings involved in the work process do not make the right choice either due to ignorance or the desire to take shortcuts, an accident would still happen.

“This is the reason we have to be proactive and focus on behaviour modification through training. However, I believe it’s good for young children to get trained; it is even better to tackle these issues from the grassroots through prevention strategies. How can we train little children to have the safety mindset? Modifying future behaviour is the way to go and that can be achieved through a conscious safety education.

“Being proactive in child safety is not just about creating a safe environment but also investing in education for children and young people. Books, training, games and simulations are ways to consciously input health and safety consciousness in the minds of growing children. We may not always be with the children, but knowledge and habits formed will remain with them.

“This will be the difference between a child who escapes an abduction scenario, who avoids a fire incident, who acts in a medical situation and another who has no knowledge of these things. Where else can we do this if not in schools where they spend considerable length of time?”

Obidiegwu said that school teachers, care givers and security personnel also need training on situational awareness to enable them do a good job when children are in their care. These are the people most likely to be around when emergency situations occur. Wouldn’t you prefer a staff that knows what to do than one waiting to be told what to do, bearing in mind that time is of the essence in emergency situations? Capacity building should, therefore, never be underestimated, as the right knowledge is power.

While stressing that there are many habits we take into adulthood which are things learnt as children either good or bad, this means that if we consciously teach children basic safety tips across fire safety, road safety, preventing injury, molestation and abduction, they grow with it.

“Unfortunately, in this part of the world the first time most people encounter safety tips and precautions is when they get into the workplace most especially in sectors such as oil and gas, aviation and construction. “However, this should not be the case because it’s tougher to change fully formed adults compared to children. Children are in their formative years and if we make conscious efforts to add safety education to their daily lives, we would intentionally groom a safety conscious generation,” she noted.

Here is what this does for society:
• We raise children who are naturally safety- conscious as they have imbibed safety habits
• Our schools get safety education integrated into the curriculum to ensure a conscious knowledge transfer
• When young people decide to take on jobs, they can make better choices because they know and understand the implication of unsafe choices to their lives.
• Knowledge is shared within the spheres of influence of these young people

While laying emphasis on the need to deliberately bring safety education to classrooms, Ms. Obidiegwu, who is also the author of child safety book, The Adventures of Muna, which was self-published on Amazon, said that over the past three years, her team had been visiting schools across the country on the platform of the Train Them Young Initiative (#2TYI).

“In the course of majority of our training visits, we observed that our visits were their first encounter with safety training. And so for maximum impact, we need to bring safety education into all our classes in this country. It should no longer be informal advice handed down by parents but a critical component of our classes.

“Children need to learn early how to detect hazards, unsafe acts and situations; how to avoid such situations and more importantly how to act when they find themselves in such situations. This would ultimately mean that accidents and injuries would be reduced as much as is reasonably practicable.

“The awesome thing about children is that they are very good at sharing information to themselves and even to adults. Therefore, they become agents of change. I sincerely believe that an enlightened society is a safer place for all and so let’s bring safety education to our classrooms,” she added.

In this article:
ParentingUgochi Obidiegwu
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