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Capitalizing on children’s natural trust


January 4, 2012
By Tom Wetzel

The relationship that police officers have with children is very special and it is built on a natural trust as many kids recognize that officers are there to protect them from bad people. It is not surprising then to hear little children say they want to be police officers when they grow up.  

In trying to keep kids safe, officers have also taken the role of educator to help accomplish that mission.  It can involve their participation in programs that teach young children everything from how to cross the street to how to avoid drugs as they get older.  These teaching opportunities can be informal ones too such as when officers stop young drivers and warn them about the potential risks of their bad driving behaviour.  Because our business is safety, we have a certain grassroots credibility that kids and parents respect. 

The dangers that children face from their use of the Internet is a serious problem that imposes potential risks for our young people today. Capitalizing on the grassroots respect children have for police it is important for the police to warn them about these risks.  As kids are using computers at very young ages, they may encounter dangerous people and situations where they are unsure on how to act.  Knowing how to avoid trouble, what to do if they come in contact with it and who they can trust to tell about it is important. 

A special program that helps officers teach these lessons is e-Copp, an educational Children’s on-line protection program.  Put together by cops and moms, e-Copp is an Internet and “stranger danger” safety program that uses an interactive DVD, an instructor workbook for teachers of e-Copp and student workbooks that reinforce the lessons.  

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The lead character of the program is a young girl named Lil Copper whose father is a police officer.  She dresses in his over sized uniform and with her amusing little dog Double Click, she helps teach her young friends how to navigate themselves out of problems they encounter while on the Internet.  Her friends also role play their parents professions which are a fireman, a scientist, a carpenter.
     
The program is an excellent community policing tool for Canadian police officers to teach primary grade age children how to stay safe while on the computer.  Officers can teach the program at camps or schools. 

e-Copp is user friendly for both the  officer and children and it encourages parental review and participation.  It not only teaches Internet safety but also addresses some “stranger dangers” tactics for children who encounter dangerous people.  e-Copp is a special opportunity for officers to strengthen the bond they have with little children and help make a difference in keeping them and their families safe.  

To learn more about e-Copp, please visit www.e-copp.com.  Together you can make a difference.       


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