A new police campaign is recruiting the support of celebrities to educate children on how to react in the unlikely event they are caught in a terrorism attack.
The Counter Terrorism Policing’s safety campaign will teach 11-16 year olds NOT to stop and use their phones until they are safely away from danger.
TV star Bear Grylls and England footballer Jamie Vardy are among the leading stars supporting the first phase of the initiative, including advice not to wait around taking pictures.
With the UK terror threat level at SEVERE, children will be taught to RUN if they are able to, HIDE if they are not, and TELL police of the threat only when it is safe to do so.
Previous messaging – which has formed part of the wider Action Counters Terrorism campaign - has been aimed at adults, but following extensive research with children and young people, security experts from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) have created age-appropriate safety advice to engage and empower a younger audience.
“We appreciate that talking to young people about terrorism can be scary, for parents and children alike,” said the National Lead for Protective Security, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi.
“But the atrocities in London and Manchester have sadly resulted in some of the youngest victims of terror this country has ever seen, and if we are able to teach children to act in a way which could potentially save their lives then it is our responsibility to do so.
“We are particularly concerned when we see people – young and old – using their mobiles to film scenes when they should be moving away from the danger. The recent incident in Parsons Green is a good example of this.
“Our research showed that many young people think filming would be a good thing to provide evidence for police. We must get them to understand that the priority must be their safety.”
John Cameron, head of NSPCC Helplines, said: “Since April, Childline has already received more than 300 contacts from young people anxious about terrorism, so we know it’s a child welfare issue that is impacting on their emotional wellbeing.
“Adults can help a child by listening to their worries, reassuring them these events are rare, and teaching them to Run, Hide, and Tell.
“Although these conversations might be difficult, the spate of devastating events means that they cannot be brushed under the carpet and we all have a duty to help every child stay safe.”
Welcoming the Police’s new campaign, Security Minister, Ben Wallace, said: “Although weapons attacks are rare, events this year have been a stark reminder that everyone must know what to do if they are caught up in a terrorist incident, whatever their age.
“This should not stop young people from going out and enjoying the best years of their lives but being alert, not alarmed and knowing the Run, Hide, Tell advice could well be life saving.
“Today, I am encouraging parents to discuss this important advice with their children so that they know how to act should the worst happen.”
CT Policing have launched a three-phase communications and education plan designed to impart this vital information on young people.
The first of two new Run, Hide, Tell videos features TV personalities Bear Grylls and Ant Middleton, Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy, England rugby star James Haskell and double Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones, who will tell young people that when caught up in a terror attack: “Real champions run.”
Bear Grylls said: I’ve tackled some of the most dangerous environments on earth, but in the event of a terrorist attack there is only one thing I would advise: Run, Hide, Tell.”
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
l Listen carefully to a child’s fears and worries
l Do not panic a child by speculating on reasons or fears of future attacks.
l Offer reassurance and comfort and avoid complicated and worrying explanations that could leave them more frightened and confused.
l Help them find advice and support to understand distressing events and feelings.
l Children can always contact Childline, adults can contact the Helpline free and confidentially 24/7 on 0808 800 5000.
For more informatio go to www.gov.uk/ACT
n Watch out for our special feature on terrorism in Wednesday's edition of your local newspaper.