McGruff Safe Houses

Posted on Wednesday, October 12 2005 by Heather Brandon

Springfield will soon implement a volunteer program to help children walking to and from school if they feel threatened or scared. The program, part of the National McGruff House Network, was initiated about two decades ago in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Volunteers do things like:

• Telephone appropriate authorities for help.
• Reassure or assist children who are lost or frightened.
• Assist children who have medical emergencies by contacting appropriate professions.
• Assist children who fear becoming victims of personal crime by summoning qualified help.
• Assist children who have been victimized by crime by calling appropriate authorities.
• Report crime and suspicious activities to law enforcement officials, providing as much information as possible.

This is a really interesting program and I’m happy to see that the city is striving to acknowledge the stresses on our kids while they get around on the street to and from school. In addition, I think it helps to engage the regular citizens with what is going on with our kids as well as with the police (by coming to inspect the home to see if they qualify as a safe house).

Maybe we can take this a step further. The National Crime Prevention Council, which offers the McGruff program, also offers trainings. The one that really catches my eye is “Crime prevention through environmental design.” From the NCPC’s site, this “CPTED” training

…contends that architects, city planners, landscape and interior designers, and law enforcement can create a climate of safety in a community, right from the start, by designing a physical environment that positively influences human behavior. People who use CPTED-designed areas perceive them as safe, and would-be criminals see them as highly risky places to commit crimes.

We could so use this.

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