Stay safe | Norfolk Constabulary

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Stay safe

Do you like to go online? Do you like to play outside?

Online or offline, at home or out and about, wherever you like to spend your time, Norfolk police wants to make sure that you can be safe and happy.

This section contains information and advice to help you.

Smoking and Drinking

Tobacco and alcohol are legal drugs that lots of people use, but they can damage your body and make you ill.

Can I drink alcohol?

As long as you are over five, you are allowed to drink alcohol within the home. When you’re young though, your body might not be able to digest alcohol and it could make you very ill.

Your parents can help decide when they feel you are old enough to drink alcohol. They may start by letting you have a small sip whilst at home, perhaps at a time of celebration like a birthday or at Christmas.

If you are under 16 then you can go in a pub, but only with your parents or another adult, but you cannot have any alcoholic drinks.

If you want to buy alcohol, you must be over 18 years old. If you try to do it before, you are breaking the law.

Did you also know that the police have the power to take away any alcohol from under 18’s in public places including streets and parks?

Why do people smoke?

It is now against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to buy tobacco products like cigarettes.

In 2007, a law was passed banning smoking in all public places to help combat passive smoking.

The ban covers pubs and bars, offices, factories, but not outdoors or in private.

Smoking is one of the most dangerous habits in the world, killing more than five million people every year.

Despite this, over a billion people still smoke. Do you know someone who smokes? Do you know why people smoke?

People smoke for different reasons, some think it makes them look cool or helps them to relax. Is this true?

Why cigarettes are not cool

  • They give you bad breath
  • They turn your teeth and fingers yellow
  • They make you look ill
  • You can lose your sense of smell and taste
  • You will be more likely to get heart disease, lung disease or suffer a major heart attack or stroke.

Others smoke because their friends do it, but remember because it is an addiction it can be very hard to stop. The best advice is not to start smoking in the first place.

Are all drugs bad?

When a person is ill, they may take drugs or medication to help them get better. These are legal when given to you by a doctor.

However, some people take drugs when they are not ill to make them feel different. This is against the law and they could be arrested. Many people goto prison because they are either selling drugs or have drugs on them. Sometimes they can be in prison for a long time.

There are many reasons why people try drugs. It could because they want be different or because they want to break the rules. Some feel that it helps them cope with difficult situations or feelings.

Drugs are dangerous and can seriously damage your health or kill you. Drug abuse can damage your ability to live a normal life.

If you are or you know someone who is taking drugs, don't think that there is no help available - talk to a parent or teacher who will be able to help. 

Keep yourself safe from drugs:

  • Never take any medicine unless the doctor or your parents say that you need it
  • Never play with any liquids in the house that are used for cleaning, like bleach, as these are dangerous
  • Never eat or drink anything offered to you by a stranger
  • Say no if your friends or older children offer you cigarettes or alcohol

Tell a parent or teacher if you have been offered cigarettes alcohol or anything unusual.

At Home

Everyone should feel safe and cared for at home, but if someone in your family is violent or abusive, it can be scary.

Adults may be hurting each other or one of them may be hurting you. This is called domestic abuse and can happen in all kinds of families.

Sometimes an adult hurts or doesn’t take good care of a young person, or touches him or her in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. This is wrong and we call this child abuse.

Domestic abuse may involve making someone feel worthless or ignored. It may include shouting, arguing, hitting or fighting.

Hearing or seeing someone you love being upset is really frightening and can make you feel angry, helpless, sad, guilty or ashamed. It can affect your schoolwork and you might have trouble sleeping.

How to get help

If you can, try talking to someone you trust - like a teacher or a relative - about what's happening. They will be able to help get it stopped.

Remember, domestic abuse is not your fault. It's only the fault of the person who is doing it.

Sometimes young people try to step in and stop the abuse, but they risk getting hurt themselves. If you feel someone is in danger call the police by ringing 999 and give the following information; 

  • Your name, age and phone number
  • Explain what's happening and where 
  • Who is there?
  • What has or is being said or done
  • If you or anyone else is hurt or anything got damaged.

Child abuse

Adults are meant to take care of young people. Sadly this doesn't always happen.

Sometimes an adult hurts or doesn’t take good care of a young person, or touches him or her in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. This is wrong and we call this child abuse.

Child abuse can mean:

  • When a parent, or another adult, is violent towards you. It may only happen when that adult is angry or drunk, but that's no excuse. It's wrong to hurt someone, no matter what.
  • When an adult tries to get you to do something sexual. This can include getting you to look at pictures or videos, making rude comments, touching you or getting you to touch them in private places on your body. Very often, the adult will tell you to keep it a secret.
  • When the adults who live with you don't give you proper food or clothing, or don't look after you when you're ill. This is called neglect, and it's against the law. It doesn't mean you're being neglected if you don't get the most expensive pair of new trainers or designer clothes every time.

Getting help

If you're being abused, it's important to know two things:

  • It's not your fault
  • It can be stopped.

The first step to getting the abuse stopped is to tell an adult that you trust. Telling someone that you're being abused can feel really scary, but it means you won't have to deal with it on your own any more.

Remember - it's OK to tell someone, even if you've been told to keep it a secret. You won't get into trouble. It's the other person who's in the wrong.

If you decide to tell a teacher or a police officer, then it's their job to take what you say seriously. If you tell someone else and they don't believe you, or they can't help you, don't give up. Try again or choose someone else.

Remember

If you know you or a member of your family is being abused, it can leave you feeling confused. You might feel scared, stressed, sad, angry or even guilty. 

The most important thing to remember is that it's not your fault.

Sometimes, it helps to talk about how you're feeling. If you think it would be easier to talk to someone you don't know, you can talk to Childline on 0800 11 11

If you're in danger and you need help straight away, find a safe place and call 999. If you're not in danger right now, but you want to talk to the police, you can speak to an officer at your local police station.

On your bike

Riding a bike is a good way to keep you fit and to get around, but we want to make sure that you keep safe when on your bike. Take our advice and read up on road safety and take your cycling proficiency test as soon as possible.

How to Look after your bike

You can reduce accidents if you make sure that your bike is well looked after. Before going out on your bike, remember to check that:

  • Your front and back lights work
  • Your brakes work
  • Your tyres are not flat or too hard.

Did you know that you could get in trouble with the police if you are riding your bike without lights?

You must have a white front light and a red back light, which should always be used in poor light such as fog and dusk as well as at night. Flashing lights are allowed. 

Your bike should also have reflectors to make you more visible, red at the rear and white/amber elsewhere. 

Following the Highway Code will help keep you safe on the roads, as will keeping to cycle routes, paths or lanes where they are provided.

How to Cycle safely

To be safe on a bike you need to be seen, even in the daytime, what you wear can help to keep you safe. Before going out on your bike, remember:

  • Wear a cycle helmet that is the correct size and done up
  • Your clothes should not be too big or baggy that they might get tangled in the chain, the wheel or may block your lights
  • Wear coloured or fluorescent clothing to help you to be seen during the day and at night
  • Wear reflective clothing at night

Avoid distractions when on your bike - concentrate on where you are going rather than listening to music or using your mobile.

Keep your bike safe

Look after your bike and keep it safe:

  • Never leave your bike unlocked in a public place
  • Buy a good lock for your bicycle.
  • Use the lock to secure the bike-stand, wheel rim and frame together - making it more difficult for a thief to take
  • Lock and leave your bike in a safe well lit place
  • Get your bike security marked by your local Safer Neighbourhood Team or Crime Prevention Officer – this will make it easier for the police to return it to you if they find it.

Keep your bike indoors at night. Bikes kept in garages and sheds should be properly locked.

Out and About

When you are out and about, it is important to keep yourself safe.

Always be aware of your surroundings, even when crossing a road, to ensure you get across safely.

When out, do not talk to strangers. A stranger is someone you don’t know. Most strangers won’t harm you, but there are some people who are nasty and may want to hurt children.

To keep yourself safe:

Never… go with a stranger

Never… take things from a stranger

Never… get in a car with a stranger

Never… go off on your own

It’s safer and more fun to be with friends – but make sure you tell your parents or carer where you are and where you are going.

If someone scares you, or tries to touch you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable, remember to Yell, Run and Tell.

Yell: Tell them ‘no’ or ‘stop’.

Run: Get home as quick as you can. If you can’t get home, go somewhere you know you will be safe, like your school or a police station or shop where you can identify a staff member you can talk to.

Tell: Tell your parent or carer or someone you can trust right away.

Mobile phones

Mobiles are a great way to keep in touch with your mates. Some phones will let you send photos and videos.

If you have a mobile phone, follow these safety tips:

  • Only give your mobile number to your friends and people that you trust
  • Don't lend your phone to someone you don't know or trust, or put it in a place where other people could get hold of it
  • If you can, lock your phone with a PIN code
  • If someone is pressuring you into giving them your number, tell someone about it such as a teacher or a parent
  • If you have Bluetooth on your phone, keep this switched off when you are not using it
  • Remember your school rules about mobile phone use and keep your phone safe when you are not using it

Don't reply to a text message or video message that is nasty or rude. You can report nasty messages to your parent or an adult you trust.

Online Safety

Do you like using the internet? What sites do you go on?

The internet or web is a great place to get information and can even help you with your homework.

Some people use the internet to chat and make new friends. There are sites like Facebook and MySpace that are very popular with both children and adults.

Although it's not against the law, the owners of those websites say you have to be over 13 years old to use them. This is for your safety and you should not feel pressured to join sites that you are too young for or you don't want to use. 

There are other sites on the internet that allow you to explore new worlds, get creative, play games or hang out with friends your age like Club Penguin, or Stardoll.

If you decide that you do want to meet new friends on the internet, remember that even though someone you chat to may sound kind and caring, there's no way to tell if that's what the person is really like.

Sadly, there are some nasty people who use the internet. They may pretend to be a child, like you, but they don't want to be your friend, they just want to hurt you.

This is why you should be careful what you say online and if someone says that they would like to meet you, then you should tell a parent straightaway.

Safety Tips

  • Always keep your name, address, and phone number secret
  • Keep other information about you secret too, such as the school you go to or what sports teams you're in
  • Always keep your passwords secret, if you think someone has found out what your password is then you should change it.

Keep the chat open

  • Stay in the public areas of chatrooms
  • If someone asks you to meet up with them, tell your parents or an adult you trust.

Keep safe

  • Don't send nasty messages. If you get any, stop reading and tell your mum, dad or someone you trust
  • Don't open emails or files from people you don't know. They may contain a virus which will harm your computer, or a nasty message
  • Do not accept private messages or open an attachment unless you know and trust the person who sent it.

Keep talking

  • Talk to your parents or carers about how you're using the internet, and they'll probably worry less
  • Talk to your school friends about the safe sites to visit
  • Avoid any sites that you or your friends have felt uncomfortable about. If anything does make you feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or upset, don't reply to it. Log off and tell your parent or an adult you trust.

At School

Does your school computer allow you to access all the sites you want to?

Probably not, the reason is that schools block certain websites from being accessed.

This is done to protect not only you, but the computer as well.

The sensible thing would be to follow the school rules so that you don't end up getting into trouble.

Bullying

Bullying is anything that someone does to make you feel frightened or bad about yourself.

Hitting you or threatening you are types of bullying but it's not always about physical stuff.

A bully might call you names or say bad things to you without ever touching you. A bully might say it's just a joke or they might try to make you feel it's your fault.

No-one deserves to be bullied.

Some people use text or video messaging, chat rooms or email to bully, this is called cyber bullying.

Are you being bullied?

If you are being bullied, then it is important to remember the following points:

  • Remember it’s not your fault if someone is bullying you
  • Nobody has the right to bully you
  • Bullies are not strong, they are weak and they bully people because it makes them feel strong.

People who are being bullied are often frightened to tell anyone, but it’s very important that you do tell someone.

Tell a friend, tell a teacher, tell your parents or carers. You should not keep being bullied to yourself. Just talking to someone about the problem can often make you feel better.

If you talk to someone like a teacher they can challenge the bully and help you stop the bully bothering you and possibly others.

If the bully wants your money or possessions, don’t put yourself in danger trying to hold on to them if this happens. Tell an adult as soon as possible and get them to report the incident to the police.

If you don’t have someone you feel you can talk to about being bullied you can ring Childline on 0800 1111. They have specially trained people who can listen and offer help.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is when somebody uses the internet or mobile phones to threaten, tease or abuse someone. It is against the law to bully someone in this way.

If someone has posted something nasty about you on the internet, the police can help you. It's easy for them to find out who did it because everything you do on your computer leaves a record.

Read our advice below on how to stay safe.

Text\Video Messaging

  • Don't reply to a text message or video message that's nasty or rude. Tell someone like your parents or an adult you trust about nasty messages. They can make the messages stop by telling the phone company (O2, Vodafone etc) about the problem. 
  • Be careful who you give your phone number to and don't leave your mobile lying around when you're not there.

Chatrooms or Instant Messaging (IM)

  • Don't reply to a nasty message - ignore them or log off. If you do receive a nasty message, take time out to calm down and tell an adult you trust.
  • Think about what you write - it is very easy for people to get the wrong idea and if you send a abusive message back you could get into trouble.

Email

  • If you receive a nasty or rude email, don't reply. If it's from someone you think you know, like someone at school, they'll want some kind of reaction, just like they would if they were standing in front of you and bullying you. Don't give them the satisfaction of replying, and they'll probably stop.
  • Tell your parents, carer, an adult you trust or a teacher at your school.
  • You can delete the emails, but if it’s serious, you should save them or print them off and tell your parents or an adult you trust.

Web

  • If the Cyberbullying is on a school website or any other website, do as you would do if the bullying was face to face - tell someone like your parents or teachers or other adult you trust.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is where you can find help and advice on being safe when you are online. 

It is there for you. If you need to report anything you see online, use this button to report it to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Games

  • If you are being bullied while playing a game online, don't respond, just tell someone like your parent or a teacher.
  • Some games allow you to report someone if they are bullying you, or you can report content if someone has posted something nasty about you.