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Kids the focus of Take 25 safety campaign

SHARE Kids the focus of Take 25 safety campaign

SALT LAKE CITY — It could be the start of a bad joke: What do Internet passwords, passing cars and ponds and pools have in common? The answer isn't funny.

They're all potentially dangerous to children. And they're all part of the Take 25 child safety initiative introduced Thursday morning at a health and safety fair at inner-city Lincoln Elementary School.

While kids gaped at shiny police motorcycles and a fire truck or donned helmets to ride bikes through a cone-bedecked safety course, officials talked about how important it is to discuss safety issues with children, especially with summer's long days and outdoor allure beckoning.

The Salt Lake City Mayor's Office, Salt Lake Police Department, Primary Children's Medical Center and the Salt Lake City School District are all part of the education campaign, started by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The initiative features 25 specific ways to make kids safer. And it asks adults to take 25 minutes to talk to the children in their lives about situational safety — the "where would you go if you were being chased or in what situation would you approach a stranger" scenarios. The broad topics range from not revealing too much online to dealing with bullies.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said safety concerns don't need to turn to paranoia; it's a relatively safe community.

"(But) things can happen, and there are things to do to minimize exposure to risk," Burbank said.

Erick Campos, 8, was wowed by the sight of a police dog capturing a "suspect" during a K-9 demonstration. And dozens of kids chanted "Go, Miss Day" as Jeannette Day, a first-grade teacher who's retiring this June, donned a helmet and pedaled carefully through the cone course.

Sgt. Robin Snyder patiently explained to Melissa Pardo, a second-grader, what it takes to become a police officer, while motorcycle officer Darren Austill showed kids how to line the red dot of his radar gun up on a car to see how fast it's going. Both officers fielded questions about the Tasers they wear on their belts.

Meanwhile, Primary Children's Janet Brooks and Tim Cosgrove talked to the students about water safety and why they need to buckle up or use a booster seat.

The "instructors" also had high praise for basic education itself. District Superintendent McKell Withers talked about reading every day, while two female firefighters told third-graders about the many ways math helps them in their jobs and reminded the little girls that no career is out of reach.

Lincoln Elementary has about 500 students in kindergarten through sixth grade and another 80 in its preschool program, according to Chelsea Malouf, assistant vice principal.

The Take 25 campaign is a proactive education effort that gives parents safety tips to share with their children and offers ideas on how to get the discussion going. The campaign addresses issues at home, on the Internet, at school and "out and about." There's also a section specifically targeted to parents of teens.

The 25 points and conversation starters are available at www.Take25.org in multiple languages.

e-mail: Lois@desnews.com Twitter: Loisco