Look out for the young ones

By Deb Thurgood

Is it just me or has November come around really quickly? This week I am writing on the topic of children’s wellbeing.

As I write we have heard of the move to level 3 – step 2 in the Waikato. While this introduces a little more normality, the current Covid-19 situation continues to put pressure on all our community.  Our young people are not immune from this. They have again had a huge disruption to their usual routines, will be missing school and equally will pick up on strains and stresses experienced by family around them. All of this often compounds any anxiety from other life events such as parental separation or family bereavements.  From time to time as Police, we also get called asking for assistance around challenging or harmful behaviours which can result.

Firstly, let’s remember that it is perfectly normal for everyone to feel some level of worry and anxiety due to uncertainty and this can affect our reactions and general behaviour. It is good to maintain routines where possible, including outdoor exercise and allow for family time to reconnect and foster a sense of security. For children and young people, it may also be helpful to speak to someone outside of their household bubble.

Here are a few phone numbers they can call for counselling and advice. The What’s Up Line 0800 942 8787 provides free counselling.  In addition, Youthline is also available on 0800 376 633 / Free text 234 or webchat at www.youthline.co.nz as is The Low Down, phone 0800 111757, text 5626 or webchat at www.thelowdown.co.nz. These resources provide counselling and support around all sorts of youth issues including Covid-19 stress, anxiety, friendship troubles, handling the loss of a loved one, relationships and more. Parentline (www.parentline.org.nz ) similarly provides support for children as well as parents. Sparklers at Home (https://sparklers.org.nz/parenting/ ) is another online resource providing information and support for parents on talking with their children about such issues.   Do some research, talk with your child and see what may best fit your family’s needs.

On a related topic, if you have concerns about the safety of a child in their own home, believe they are suffering ill treatment or neglect or require advice on these matters, make a call to Oranga Tamariki. A Report of Concern may be made anonymously if required.  You can reach them on 0508 326 459 or email contact@ot.govt.nz . If you have immediate and serious concerns, however, call 111.

Keep up the good work of looking out for each other.

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