Child and Teen Safety
Hamilton Police Service provides preventative information, resources and partnerships designed to help keep children and teens safe. With guidance, children and teens can develop basic safety skills that will help them stay safe as they learn and grow.
Bullying and Cyber Bullying
Bullying can be defined as repeated and systematic harassment, involving the abuse of power and includes doing or saying something to intentionally hurt someone else. Bullying can happen in person or online.
Why do people bully?
- Peer pressure and/or to gain social status
- Seeking attention
- Learned behaviour from home
- Reflection of their own personal problems
- Generate a feeling of “control”
Common Types of Bullying
Cyber-bullying – Performed through electronic devices (usually on social media sites) to threaten, harass, embarrass, socially exclude, or damage reputations and friendships.
Disability bullying – Includes leaving someone out or treating them badly because of a disability, making someone feel uncomfortable, or making jokes to hurt someone because of a disability.
Physical bullying – Includes hitting, kicking, shoving, spitting, beating up, stealing or damaging property.
Racial bullying – Treating people poorly because of their racial or ethnic background; includes saying bad things about a cultural background, calling someone racist names or telling racist jokes.
Religious bullying – Treating people badly because of their religious background or beliefs; includes making negative comments about a religious background or belief, calling someone names or telling jokes based on his or her religious beliefs to try to hurt them.
Sexual bullying – Includes leaving someone out; treating them badly, or making them feel uncomfortable because of their gender; making sexist comments or jokes; touching, pinching or grabbing someone in a sexual way; making rude comments about someone's sexual behaviour or orientation; or spreading a sexual rumour.
Social bullying – Includes excluding others from the group, getting others to ignore or exclude people, gossiping or spreading rumours, setting others up to look foolish and damaging reputations and friendships.
Verbal bullying – Includes name-calling, mocking, hurtful teasing, insults, slurs, humiliating or threatening someone, racist comments, or sexual harassment.
When do I call police?
When threats, harassment, assault, theft, or mischief are involved, the bullying should be reported to the police. In an emergency, contact 9-1-1, otherwise call our non-emergency line.
- Avoids using their devices, or deletes their social media accounts.
- Is often upset after receiving online/text messages.
- Lower interest in activities and lowered performance at school.
- Fear of going to school.
- Isolating themselves from friends and family.
- Complains of not feeling well (e.g. headaches, stomach aches etc.).
- Lower self-esteem.
Reporting a Bully
- Hang out with friends that support you.
- Talk to someone that you trust like a teacher, principal or your parents.
- Document inappropriate messages received as evidence; keep it stored away if needed for future police action. Track the dates, times, and descriptions of the incidents.
Drugs and Alcohol
Many drugs are legal. Some drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, are legal for adults but not for children and teens. Others are produced and sold illegally.
Types of Drugs
A drug is anything ingested or absorbed, other than food, which affects the way a person's body or mind functions. There are three main categories of drugs: stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens.
- Stimulants - Drugs that speed up functions, such as breathing, movements and heart rate, e.g. Caffeine, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Marijuana.
- Depressants - Drugs that slow down functions, such as breathing, movements and heart rate, e.g. Alcohol, Marijuana, Prescription pills.
- Hallucinogens - Drugs that work on the brain to affect the senses, this drug distorts awareness and perception, e.g. LSD, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Salvia.
Why do young people begin to experiment?
- Peer pressure
- Relieve stress or anxiety
- To feel better
Signs of Drug Use
- Suspicious objects/paraphernalia.
- More secretive and less co-operative.
- Changes in behaviour/personality.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Trouble thinking clearly.
- Difficulty maintaining relationships.
- Note: possible signs mentioned above are indicators to watch for, but does not confirm the person is involved in drugs.
Human Trafficking and Vulnerable Youth
Human Trafficking is occurring in our own communities. It refers to the recruitment, transportation or harboring of persons for the purpose of using them in the sex industry/prostitution or for forced labour.
Youth are extremely vulnerable to becoming a victim, averaging 13-21 in age.
Helping children and youth stay safe online is something many families are concerned about. Please find some helpful tips below on keeping your child safe online.
- Never agree to meet someone they've met online.
- Avoid using a Web Cam or digital camera without close supervision.
- Use privacy controls to restrict unwanted people's access to your pages.
- Avoid giving out personal information (i.e. name, address, school you attend).
- Have open lines of communication with them and establish ground rules on their internet usage.
- Become more computer and internet savvy by learning what your children do online.
- If your child or teen is using a social media platform, you should be too. Make this a joint online learning experience for both you and your child.
- Check out parental controls available on your online service and block inappropriate websites.
- Keep the computer in a public area in your house (avoid having a computer in their room).
- Learn how to set up privacy controls.
Youth and the Law
Young people have rights and responsibilities when it comes to dealing with police and breaking the law.
What happens if a young person breaks the law?
The laws that are used to deal with young people fall under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The YCJA deals with young people between the ages of 12 and 17.
If a young person breaks the law, they will be arrested. Their parent/guardian is then notified of the arrest and asked to make an appearance at the police station or place of arrest. The young person is usually released at this point and given a date to have their photograph and finger prints done as well as a court date, in which they will need to appear to answer to the charge. When they go to court, they will appear before a judge and sentencing will be issued.
If you are not yet old enough to be penalized under the YCJA, you can still be arrested – just not charged. The Children’s Aid Society is notified in these circumstances and they could, potentially remove the young person from their home.
Possible Penalties when a youth is found guilty
- Return property
- Absolute discharge/Conditional Discharge
- Custody/Supervision Order
- Fine Up to $1000
- Probation up to two years
Common Criminal Offences
Mischief: The crime of damaging property owned by another person.
Theft: The crime of taking property belonging to another without that person’s consent.
Harassment: The crime of repeated conduct, over time, that causes victims to reasonably fear for their safety.
Threatening: The crime of intentionally or knowingly putting another person in fear of imminent bodily injury.
Assault: The crime of applying force, directly or indirectly to another person without their consent.
Trespassing: The crime of entering a property without consent of the owner
Possession: The crime of possessing illegal drugs for personal use, distribution, sale or otherwise.
What to do if you know someone has committed an offence?
- Call Crime Stoppers to report it anonymously
- Tell an adult you trust
- Report it to Police
Walking Home Alone
- Inquire about your school's safety policy.
- Make sure children know their parent/guardian contact information and know how to contact a trusted adult if they feel unsafe.
- Take time to get familiar with the best route to and from school and walk the route with them.
- Have your child walk to and from school with a friend.
- Avoid having their name visible on their clothing, lunch boxes and other belongings, as it advertises to everyone who they are.
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