Sergeant’s ‘party-pooping’ plea to keep children safe this summer

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A police sergeant from Northamptonshire police has written what he calls a ‘party-pooping plea’ letter to be circulated in schools for parents and carers to read.

Sgt Sam Dobbs said he wants children to enjoy their holidays, but having recently attended the funeral of an 11-year-old boy in Towcester, he is keen for parents to be wary of the dangers their children face.

The letter, written by Sgt Dobbs and titled ‘school’s out’, gives parents six tips to keep their children safe over the summer holidays.

1) Keep track of sleepovers.

He said: “If each child tells each parent that they are sleeping at each other’s house and you don’t check, this gives great cover for sleeping out or being where you might not want them.

“Insist on knowing where they will be putting their heads down, set a time check and check with the ‘host’ householder or parent. Insist that there must be a known and trusted adult (not just an older teenage sibling) wherever your child is to sleep.”

2) Tell them to keep their phone on at all times, and consider using a tracking app.

He said: “Make it a condition of going out that your child has their mobile phone, that it is charged and turned on all the time.

“Make it a condition that they are contactable at all times.

“Make it a condition that they answer welfare text messages if they send them.

“If they use ‘find my friends’ or location facilities on apps then tell them these musn’t be disabled.

“Make it a condition that you have at least one alternate phone number of a trusted/known friend your child will be with.”

3) Check the location of parties.

He said: “Triple check where the party is going to be. The remoter locations bring risks by being out of the way and difficult to get to and from without parent power. Have they the means to get home?”

4) Teenagers will probably experiment with alcohol, talk to them about the dangers of drink and drugs.

He said: “End of term parties attract large numbers of kids but can attract those who exploit the event to sell or supply alcohol or drugs. Check how much money you child has and quiz them on how they will spend it.

“I am a realist so I kind of expect kids to experiment with alcohol but please have a conversation about the effects of drink on young people not used to alcohol.

“Please do not legitimise under-age drinking by sending your kids to parties with alcohol. Last year, there was a large party in Towcester, which got out and hand and most of the booze confiscated had been provided by liberal-minded (but apologetic) parents.”

5) Remind them to be wary of unwanted sexual attention at parties.

He said: “Remind them that sex without consent (which cannot properly be given whilst drunk) is rape - a cautionary message for boys and girls alike.

“Remind them to be especially wary if they are at parties where they could be exploited by adults.”

6) Talk to them about the potentially deadly consequences of peer pressure and dares.

He said: “I attended the tragic funeral yesterday, at Crick, of the 11-year-old boy who died following contact with an electrified overhead line on the railway.

“It’s an awful and salutary reminder of the need to have the conversation about risk with children.

“The ‘dare’ culture is a worry, with social media and apps which encourage ‘dares’. Please ask your child to think twice about any ‘dare’ challenge - especially if it involves water, electricity or transportation (roads, rail or canals).

“Kids’ analysis of risk reduces when in larger numbers with peer pressure.”