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Safety for teens

safety; home; alone; travelling; walking; going; out; mates;


Despite what we hear about from the media, mostly our world in Australia is very safe. Every day people are able to walk safely down the road, be alone at home, go to the beach with friends and walk with friends after dark without being a victim of personal violence.

You are at much more danger of hurting yourself seriously by falling over! Very few people are at danger from a 'home invader'. Mostly when people are the victim of personal violence it is by someone they know.

However houses do get broken into, date rape does occur, road accidents happen, and sometimes people are hurt by strangers.

Many people are anxious about being alone at night, walking somewhere after dark, driving in a car by themselves.

There are things that you can do to keep yourself safer, and to feel safer.

Think safe  be aware that there are people who are not
   as nice as they may seem.
Think smart  organise so that you have what you need.
Think ahead  plan carefully so that you can deal with
   emergency situations.
Think first  before you act in such a way that you could
   put yourself in danger.

Thinking safe when you are out

If you thought about all the 'What if's?' you wouldn't get out of bed in the morning!

All of life is taking a risk but you can minimize risks by thinking 'safe'.

  • Make sure that someone knows where you are going and what time you will return.
  • Walk on busy streets if you are alone and walk with friends at night.
  • Walk on the side of the road where you face oncoming traffic.
  • Wear something light coloured or reflective if you are walking at night.
  • If you are riding a bike, wear reflective clothing and always have lights on.
  • If wearing headphones, keep the volume down so that you can hear what is happening around you.
  • Carry a mobile phone to make a call so that you can get help if you need it.
  • Have your house or car key ready in your hand before you need it so that you don't have to stand around looking for it.
  • Keep your money, phone, camera or headphones out of sight. Don't carry valuable things unless you really have to.
  • Make sure you and your friends look after each other, like walking each other home or having a designated driver to get you safely home.
  • Avoid places where you think that there could be a danger – dark streets near a pub or nightclubs may not be a good idea.

You are much more likely to be hurt in a car accident than be hurt by a stranger on the road. So cross roads carefully, drive safely, ride safely and never get into a car when the driver has been drinking or using drugs.

Plan ahead so that if you could be unsafe you know what you can do.

If you are out walking and you think you are being followed

  • Cross the street.
  • Keep walking in the direction you need to go to get home or wherever you were going. If you try to get away by going a different way you could end up lost.
  • Look for the nearest well lit house, shop or petrol station.
  • Call someone on your mobile and tell them where you are and what is happening. Keep talking as you walk.
  • Call the police if you are scared. You can call 000 from a phone box without using money. Stay in the phone box until the police, or your friend or parent arrives.
  • If you need to run, get rid of anything heavy and lose the high heels if you are wearing them.
  • Run towards well lit areas, shops, petrol station or houses and shout, "Call the Police!" or "Fire!" to attract attention. You have more chance of attracting attention than if you called "Help".
  • Remember that if someone is following you, that person is more likely to want to rob you than assault you. Be prepared to let go of your bag if it is grabbed rather than run the risk of being hurt some more.

If a car is following you

  • Change direction so that the car will have to turn round.
  • Write down the licence number of the car or put it into your mobile phone. If it is safe, take a photo of the car. 
  • Walk, run, or drive if you are in your car, to the nearest well lit area, shops, petrol station or the Police station.

If your car has broken down

If your car has broken down at night, or in a lonely place, and you're alone:

  • Raise the hood or bonnet, get back in the car, and lock all the doors and windows.
  • Use your mobile to call for help.
  • No mobile?
    • Wait until someone comes past and ask him or her, through the window, to call for help.
    • Wait until it's light before looking for a phone box.

Cars do break down, so it's a good idea to join a motor rescue organization eg, RAA. Maybe a family member could give you a membership as a special present.


Lots of older teens get the 'travel bug'. As you travel around part of the fun is meeting new people. Don't assume that because someone 'looks safe', seems to be a similar person to you, or is friendly, that this is someone you can trust. But also balance this by recognising that most people will not do harm to you.

  • Read information about safe travelling before you go.
  • The site 'Smartraveller' can be helpful
    • Make sure that someone at home or where you are staying always knows where you are.
    • Be careful about suddenly deciding to change your travel plans to go off with new 'friends'. Check things out well first.
    • Avoid too much alcohol or taking drugs - they put you at greater risk of something bad happening. Also you might break local laws.
    • Keep maps and make sure you know where you are in case you need to get help.
    • Get 'Global Roaming' on your mobile phone before you leave home if you are leaving Australia. Calls are expensive but text is cheaper. Talk with your provider before you leave to get the best deal.
    • Remember that alcohol and drugs make you unsafe.
    • Stick with the people with whom you are travelling and arrange to keep an eye out for each other.

    If the locals advise you not to go somewhere – don't go there!!!!

    Remember though that much of the danger when you travel is from eating unsafe food, drinking unsafe water, having things stolen and car accidents.

    Always get travel insurance before you leave if you are travelling outside your home country.

    Home alone

    If you are home alone or live alone you can be safer if you:

    • have outside lights turned on, or have sensor lights fitted
    • don't invite strangers into your house. People who you have just met are still 'strangers' until you know them well
    • keep doors and windows locked when you are alone. However - remember that you could need to get out if there is a fire – so lock those doors, but keep the keys in dead locks while you are inside the house
    • lock the screen door, so that if someone comes to the door they can't get in unless you unlock it
    • ask to see the identity of anyone who says he or she is on official business, eg. reading the meter or the landlord, unless you know about the visit beforehand. You could take a photo of their ID.

    If it seems like someone is trying to break in

    • Switch all the lights on and make sure the doors and windows are locked.
    • Call the Police and tell them what is happening – call 131 444 unless there is a real emergency - when you would dial 000.

    Keeping safe on the Internet

    The Internet is great and you can have a great time hooking up with people in chat rooms but….

    • Never give personal details. You don't know who you are really talking to.
    • Even if you feel that you've made a great friend be wary about giving out personal details. You could be putting yourself and your family or housemates at risk.
    • Making new friends is exciting but be careful about arranging to meet someone. Tell a friend or family if you do decide to meet up and choose a safe place – like a café or shopping centre.

    Cyberbullying is bullying that’s done by means of technology - for example, using the internet or a mobile phone to hurt, harass or embarrass someone.

    If you’re experiencing cyberbullying, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, up to one in five young Australians have reported being cyberbullied.

    To find out more

    Have a look at these topics on the Reachout website. Reachout is an Australian website for young people who are experiencing tough times


     South Australia

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    The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.
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