Teaching kids about crime is more imprtant than ever before. Kids are exposed to violence and criminal acts every day. It is important for children to know who it is safe to approach if they witness or are a victim of a crime.
The History of McGruff the Crime Dog
In 1978, Ad Council was given the task to promote crime awareness among children in the United States. The end result was McGruff the Crime Dog. Developed by Saatchi & Saatchi, McGruff is a powerful bloodhound cartoon character created by John Young. Since his creation, McGruff has become a popular symbol of crime awareness. In the 70s, crime was on the rise and it seemed that things would only get worse. The assignment of McGruff was supported by 19 agencies forming the Crime Prevention Coalition of America, which is the group that manages the National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign. It had the slogan “Take a Bite out of Crime”.
The main purpose of the advertisement campaign was to teach people, kids espcially, about crime prevention. The messages highlighted simple measures, which could be easily followed to prevent crimes. By 1979, McGruff appeared on many school and community events to urge families and communities to support crime prevention schemes. The songs, booklets, and commercials were designed by the National Crime Prevention Council, informing children about the importance of staying in school and fighting crime. The campaigns spoke about drugs, safety, and bullying in schools. It promoted activities such as cleaning the parks and streets to make it less inviting for criminals. McGruff was promoted by police officers in schools through puppets and costumes which were worn by the officers. Many public service advertisements (PSAs) were designed to generate higher awareness. In 1981, research showed nearly 50% of all adults saw or heard at least one of the McGruff PSA. A booklet called “Got a Minute? You Could Stop a Crime” was released. In the first month, more than 300,000 copies were requested. By 1981, more than a million copies of the booklet were distributed. The booklet contained simple instructions to prevent crimes such as keeping the door locked or forming a neighborhood group.
The National Crime Prevention Council was established in 1982 to manage the McGruff campaign throughout America. In 1982, the McGruff House Program was launched in Utah. The national McGruff program is largely funded by the US Department of Justice which holds the registered trademarks called “McGruff House” and “McGruff Truck”. McGruff House occupants and McGruff Truck drivers are not policemen but they can be called upon during the time of need. Both can be used if a child is frightened, or if a child is hurt. The McGruff Truck can be identified by the decals which are found on the passenger’s seat or the back bumpers. The child can stop these trucks by jumping, yelling or waving arms. To get help from the McGruff House, the child has to knock the door or ring the bell.
In 1984, McGruff got so popular that the US Postal Service launched a postage stamp in its name. McGruff also appeared on a special episode of ABC’s TV series called Webster. In the episode, McGruff gave advice on coping with bullies, and reducing school vandalism and theft. The episode was watched by 22 million viewers. By 1987, 99% of kids, 96% of teens, and 90% of adults recognized McGruff and his famous slogan.
In 1993, McGruff’s nephew Scruff was launched through a separate marketing campaign. Scruff was targeted at kids in the age group of 5 to 9 years, teaching them to handle certain dangerous situations. More than fifty thousand calls were made in just a ten month time period starting from August 1993. In 1995, a new campaign addressing gun violence and youth was launched. Distributed in powerful prints, it featured Hispanic celebrities.
In 1996, McGruff joined the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta where it spread the message “Play it Safe”. The brochures and posters of the campaign were printed in three languages and the campaign advised athletes and visitors to reduce the risk of being a victim of crime.
The National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign made a national record by donating $128 million for media support to the campaign in 1998. Two new characters Don Graf and Escraf were also introduced to join McGruff and Scruff in that year.
McGruff the Crime Dog was redesigned through computer generated graphics in the year 1999. The new TV advertisement was targeted at children in the age group of 9 to 11 years. The first advertisement in 3D mainly addressed the bullying issue. The website of the NCPC was launched in the same year, as well as the website of the National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign. The new issues promoted by the campaigns are identity theft and Internet safety. McGruff’s promoters are planning to release its campaigns and messages on the issues of telemarketing and cyber bullying soon.
Bicycling can be a fun activity for people of all ages. However, no matter what age it is important to know the basic rules of safety when it comes to riding a bike in order to prevent injury or worse. some important things to remember include always wearing a bicycle helmet that fits, wear clothing that can easily be spotted by drivers. Don’t ride after dark when you can, but if you do make sure to have reflectors on your bicycle, clothes, and your helmet. Always look when crossing the street and use sidewalks when possible. In order to prevent the thievery of your bicycle, use a bike lock and keep it in a safe place. In case it does get stolen or lost, have pictures of your bicycle and keep the serial number handy.
Most children have been taught by parents and teachers not to talk to strangers, but not all people are dangerous, and not people children may have met before are safe. Children should know to always check with a parent before going with anyone. One of the best things to tell children is if they are approached by someone telling them to leave with them, to go tell a teacher, police officer, or parent.
Kids and Media Literacy
With so much television programming available at any given time of day, it is important to teach children about what is okay to watch and what isn’t. It is also important to help children understand the difference between reality and television. Parents can discuss the things they watch and TV with their children and compare how things are different in reality as compared to the things that happen on TV and movies. Things like sex, violence, drug use, and alcohol should all be monitored carefully. Many TV service providers make it possible to block programs from being viewable without a password.
Gangs and Kids
All children, no matter how young, are in danger of being recruited by gangs. Public schools are common locations for gangs to frequent, looking for young children anywhere from 9 years old and up to join their gangs in order to send them on some risky and highly illegal jobs. Some kids may not realize the dangers of being in a gang and join in order to feel accepted and protected, or to make money. Teaching kids about the violence and other illegal activities of gang members is the best way to reduce the risk of children joining gangs. Emphasizing that the supposed benefits of being in a gang are false and that there are many other positive groups and activities available for kids to join instead.
Gender Roles and Kids
For children of all ages the realization that boys and girls are different is a natural and expected occurrence. At a very young age children accept their gender identity by exploring what is, and isn’t expected and appropriate for their gender. Things like what is masculine and what is feminine are among these. No matter what gender it is important for children to be healthy and assertive, and to know that they are allowed to play the same games, and watch the same shows as children of the opposite gender. Boys can play with dolls if they want, and girls are allowed to throw a football. Parents and teachers should make sure that all children are treated the same, no matter what the gender at home and at school.
For adults and young people when shopping some important tips for staying safe and protecting your purchases and your personal information include making sure never to leave bags and children unattended, never try to carry more than you are able, if you see a shopping bag or other bag unattended be sure to report it to store security, make sure you have all your credit cards and checks when leaving the store, and be sure your children know your cell phone number in case they get lost and need to reach you. It is also useful to have a plan in place in case you get separated. A nice rule of thumb is to pick a location that is easy to find, and tell your kids if you get separated, to go back to the location and stay there until you come find them.
Every year children are killed in accidents involving a weapon of some kind. Often because a household gun was left unattended and not locked up. In order to prevent this from happening in your home be sure to always lock any fire arms up securely and to always keep it unloaded. Make sure to teach kids that guns are dangerous and can kill. Make sure children know never to touch a gun, to keep away, and to alert an adult of the gun. Aside from guns, other weapons should also be kept out of reach of children including knives.
Kids and Secrets
Telling secrets is normal and to be expected in children but it is important for kids to know when it is safe to keep a secret, and when it is important to tell a adult about the secret. The basic rule is that if the secret can’t hurt anyone or anything, the secret is safe to keep, but if the secret is dangerous, children should tell the in charge adult.
Children spend a lot of time in school so it is important for school to feel like it is a safe and positive environment. Ways to be sure children are feeling safe and secure at school include talking about their day including touching on subjects like bullying and teasing. Instruct kids in ways to resolve issues without violence and when children should approach their teacher. Also making sure your child knows about the safety plans of the school, like what to do in case of fire, is imprtant. If children walk to school, set one route they should take every day. Make sure they know not to take a different route. Go with them one day and point out any places the children should avoid like construction zones, vacants parking lots, and other dangerous areas. Encourage kids to walk with friends or siblings when going to and from school.
If your child rides a school bus, make sure they arrive at their bus stop around 5 minutes before the bus is meant to arrive and make sure they know not to stand in the road while waiting for the bus.