Kids get stranger smart in Richmond Hill

Linda Li thinks her young daughter is safe in their Richmond Hill community.

But that doesn’t mean a child shouldn’t be taught safety lessons, she said.

Li enrolled her six-year-old daughter Catherine Lu in a Kidproof Stranger Smarts class held in the Oak Ridges Moraine Library on Nov. 12. Li was confident that the program would help keep teach her daughter safety tactics against strangers.

“I want my daughter to get more knowledge on how to protect herself and how to deal with a strange person,” Li said.  “I do think our community is very safe, but just in case, I want her prepared.”

After the class, when Catherine was asked what the most important lesson she learned from the program was, she was quick to explain the golden rule.

“Never go anywhere with anyone without asking permission first,” she said.

The class was presented by Kidproof Canada, a company that aims to provide children and their parents with the idea that knowledge is key to empowering them through interactive safety education courses. The organization was established in 2000 by ex-police officer Samantha Wilson.

Tracy Watson, Kidproof Canada franchisee for York Region, organizes and instructs many student programs, including the Kidproof Stranger Smarts program.

“It helps the kids be proactive instead of reactive to situations if strangers were to walk up to them,” Watson said.  “We cover the five tricks strangers or predators will use to get children to go with them.  So it’s really beneficial because they’re more aware.”

Watson offers the two-hour course in York Region as an after-school program, or private class. The program caters to children from ages seven to 10.

Watson became a Kidproof franchisee a year ago after enrolling her son into the Kidproof BullyProofing program. After going on the website, she found that most of these programs catered to her son, but weren’t always available at her location.

“I found out about Kidproof and I just loved all the programs. It was hard for the company to offer all the programs in our area, so when the option of being a franchisee became available, I jumped on it,” Watson said.  “People are thrilled that these programs are readily available to them, and that it’s here to stay.  It’s not just a one-time thing, and the kids grow with our programs.”

During the Kidproof Stranger Smarts class, parents enter in the last half hour to watch what the kids have learned. This usually involves skits and role-playing provided by the children. A tip that Watson says parents are surprised to learn is that putting their child’s name on lunch bags or back packs is a giveaway for a stranger to be a first-name basis with their child.

The Kidproof Stranger Smarts class in York Region costs $27. More information on Kidproof programs is available at