#childsafety | RCMP share advice on having important conversations with children, in light of recent attack

This past weekend, a man in his late twenties was arrested for intentionally and inappropriately touching a 12-year-old girl in a pool in Portage la Prairie. 

The girl did all the right things in that unfortunate situation, leading to this man being arrested by RCMP. 

Cpl Julie Courchaine, the Media Relations Officer for the Manitoba RCMP, says, “One of the reasons we put this out was to warn the public but also hopefully get parents of young kids to start the conversation.”

Being aware and being prepared are ways that children can stay safe, according to the Cpl.

“What can that look like? Just sitting down with your child and talk about this situation that we put out. Go through it.”

A girl was at a hotel with her family, swimming with other kids her age when the attack occurred.

“This twelve-year-old girl, I think, was very brave. I commend her for what she did. She was able to get away from the situation, she knew it felt wrong, she got to safety, was able to talk to a trusted adult who in turn called the police and we were able to affect an arrest pretty quickly.”

Having a stranger attack a child or teen while they’re around family is quite uncommon. However, knowing what to do can lead to an outcome similar to the one that happened this weekend. 

“Obviously this is a very terrifying situation, a traumatic one for anyone. But if they do find themselves in this situation, you know it’s wrong, get to a safe place. Maybe with your other friends or somewhere where you feel safe. Then have someone that you can talk to, a parent, guardian, or family member.”

She says, “I think by having these conversations they will gain the confidence to be able to react in a situation that feels not right.”

Cpl Courchaine is also a mother to three young daughters.

“One thing I tell them if you’re instincts are telling you that something doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right. Then, by all means, you get away or out of that situation. I think it’s important to say that, because manners can go out the window in these instances.”

If someone is forcefully keeping a child, Cpl Courchaine has some suggestions on what children should do next.

“I do think it’s very important if you’re being restrained or someone is trying to pull into a vehicle, to fight back if you can, to yell and make as much of a commotion as you possibly can.”

Cpl Courchaine points out a common misconception and urges parents to speak to their daughters and sons. 

“We know that any sexual offenses are not only with girls. It happens to boys all the time. I hope that parents with sons and daughters are having these conversations.”

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