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Teaching young children to be "Be Prepared, Not Scared!"

Brigadier Tim Hodgetts CBE, one of the founders of citizenAID, explains the significance of citizenAID's schools' product.

We are fortunate in the UK that deliberate attacks on schools resulting in multiple casualties are extraordinarily rare, in contrast to the experience in some countries and most notably the USA.

Yet recent deliberate attacks in UK have still involved children and young adults, with the bomb attack at Manchester Arena in 2017 coinciding with a pop concert appealing to this age group.

Our children and young adults are therefore exposed to threats of harm, even though it is a small numerical risk. But this should not prevent us from ensuring they are prepared, rather than scared, in the unlikely but not impossible event of being caught up in a deliberate attack.

After all, we routinely prepare children to respond to a fire alarm, even though a fire is unlikely; and young children are alerted to ‘stranger danger’ and instructed how to act. Further, many will hardly notice the routine nature of the safety briefing before aircraft takeoff, but it is a serious message that demands immediate and decisive action in the

unlikely event of an aircraft fire or crash landing.

At citizenAID we have recognised the requirement for information for children, but contextualised for age and presented in a manner that is not alarmist. Rather, it embeds simple principles of safe action in the event that someone is trying to cause harm.

We are not alone in trying to improve understanding among children. The NSPCC has provided advice for parents to talk to their children about terrorism.

Consultant clinical psychologist Emma Citron, who specialises in children and trauma, says families should not shy away from talking about such events. See link.

citizenAID has created an illustrated children’s book “Moggy’s Coming” that emphasises our ‘Run, Hide, Tell, Treat’ message in an age-contextualised way. It tells the story of a cat loose in a school of mice, where the safe action is to Run, Hide and Tell. Once hiding safely, Treatment is provided by the adult until help arrives. While set in a school, to show how children can rehearse how to act in the case of attempted deliberate harm, the principles are clearly transferable into the wider public setting. The book includes questions to prompt discussion and a series of nursery-style rhymes. It is available in electronic and paper formats with returns from sales supporting the charitable work of citizenAID. You can order your copy here.

“Moggy’s Coming” is intended to be the first in a series of educational books, featuring the Mulberry School mice in emergency situations.


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