Today (5 June 2018) the charity Action Against Abduction in partnership with Hampshire Constabulary will launch a new child safety programme: ‘Clever Never Goes’.

It comes at the same time the charity publishes new research showing police in England, Scotland and Wales recorded 870 non-parental child abductions in 2016/17, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year.

‘Stranger danger’ initiatives began in the early 1970s and have long been criticised for failing to keep children safe whilst creating a climate of fear and suspicion. Clever Never Goes has been developed and piloted in eight Hampshire schools to offer a fresh approach to the problem.

Geoff Newiss, Director of Action Against Abduction said “Teaching children simply to avoid strangers doesn’t work. Most strangers will help rather than harm children. Conversely, it is often people known to children that pose the greatest threat.”

Newiss continues: “Clever Never Goes moves the focus away from strangers and instead teaches children to recognise when someone (anyone) is asking them to go with them. We want to give children practical safety skills which they can use as they get older and become more independent.”

Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said “Keeping children safe is a top priority for Hampshire Constabulary and it’s tremendous that parents and teachers now have access to the new Clever Never Goes programme. Whilst incidents of completed child abductions are relatively uncommon it’s important that we give children the best tools to recognise danger in a way that is balanced and positive”.

The Clever Never Goes programme consists of a primary school lesson plan and teaching aides which can be downloaded (for free) at Parents and carers can download a Home Pack with information and activities at the same website. The programme features a child-friendly robot (called ‘CLEVER’) who helps children to refine the key ‘Go Spotting’ safety skills.

To develop Clever Never Goes the charity worked with the teachers and children at Crofton Hammond Infant School, Stubbington. Head Teacher Jacky Halton – who has since become a trustee of the charity – said “Telling children about ‘stranger danger’ is hopelessly out-of-date. We’re proud to have created a new approach that helps to build children’s confidence – rather than make the outside world seem frightening.”