The Daniel Morcombe Foundation visits Radford

Morcombes with Andy
Bruce and Denise Morcombe with Acting Principal and Head of Junior School Andy Gordon

Years 5 and 6 students were fortunate to receive a visit from Bruce and Denise Morcombe of The Daniel Morcombe Foundation last Thursday.

The hour-long session addressed a wide range of personal safety topics – relating to both the real world and online world – all based around the Foundation’s goal of keeping kids safe. And while the Morcombes echoed messages students are already discussing in class and wellbeing sessions here at school, and likely also at home, both year groups held on to their every word.

Recognise, React, Report

Bruce and Denise ran through various scenarios kids could easily find themselves in – from considering taking a shortcut home in the dark, losing their parents in a food court, or having someone they’ve met online request personal information. Key to their message are three important ‘R’ words.

  • Recognise those clues your body might give when something just doesn’t feel right. You might get butterflies in your tummy, start sweating or feel sick. Do not ignore what your body is telling you.
  • React – while it may not always be possible in the moment, do what you can to shut the situation down. Depending on what’s happening, you could run away, scream, shout ‘NO’, or close your laptop.
  • Report what has happened to a trusted adult immediately. Tell them why you got those bodily clues, and don’t stop reporting until you receive help.

Create a safety network

Students were reminded that most people are good people, but it is important to always have a plan in case a situation changes. They were asked to create a safety network using the image of a hand, with one safe, trusted adult on each of the five fingers.

Bruce reminded students it’s important to have a mix of adults – not all from your family or from school, for example – who you know will listen to and believe you. Examples included Mum and Dad, grandparents, a teacher, a friend’s parent and a sporting coach.

Students were also asked to remember both the police and Kids’ Helpline as additional, professional resources they can turn to. And to remember that if, for some reason, one person (or finger) doesn’t listen or help, move straight on to the next until action is taken.

Discuss as a family

While only Years 5 and 6 students attended this session, Bruce and Denise firmly believe children are never too young to learn about keeping safe.

There are plenty of helpful videos, conversation cards, fact sheets and a range of other resources on the Daniel Morcombe Foundation website, aimed at kids aged from early childhood to teenagers, and families are encouraged to talk regularly about real-world and online safety.

Students were urged to discuss the session that evening around the dinner table. The Morcombes raised the importance of having a plan with their families in all situations, which could be as simple as always travelling with a buddy or identifying a meeting point everywhere you go, just in case you get separated.

They also spoke about choosing a family password, shared only with a select number of close trusted adults. Then, if anyone ever offers a lift or claims Mum and Dad sent them, the child can request the password. If that person doesn’t know it, then it’s a dealbreaker and it’s time to react.

While students remained silent and attentive throughout the session, they certainly found their voices when the Morcombes asked them to stand and shout with all their might: ‘No! My body belongs to me!’

Keep safe online

Part of the session was dedicated to understanding the distinction between real life and online – potentially one of the most dangerous ‘places’ for children today.

Bruce and Denise reminded students to be extra careful with anyone they’re chatting to online, be wary of anyone trying to gain their trust, only ever ‘friend’ people they know, check their privacy settings, change passwords often, never share personal information or photos, and to never meet anyone they’ve met online without discussing it with their parents or caregivers.

The Foundation has also launched an interactive game called The Boomer Challenge, which allows kids to teach their grandparents about online safety. This fun, free resource gives children aged 8 to 12 the skills to recognise potentially unsafe and risky online situations, and to make decisions and problem solve in the online world.

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation

Most people will know his story – 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe went missing in 2003, on his way to buy Christmas presents for his family at a local Sunshine Coast shopping centre.

Now one of the best-known not-for-profit child safety organisations in Australia, The Daniel Morcombe Foundation was born from this highly publicised tragedy. Bruce and Denise have inspired the nation with their conviction and dedication to keeping kids safe.

They have visited more than 700 schools nationally in their effort to educate children regarding their personal safety. And they’re certainly not slowing down.

“We’re not here to be sad; we’re here to learn,” said Bruce, before showing a video about the Foundation’s annual Day for Daniel – a day for schools, businesses and community to come together to wear red, educate and donate.

The Radford Junior School will hold its own Day for Daniel on Friday, 28 October this year around the theme 'brave conversations', with students invited to dress in red and denim.

For more information on keeping safe online, read Claire Melloy's article for this week.

Morcombe bus
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation is travelling around Australia in 'Big Red'