Block Parents

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Michelle
Block Parents

 

Michelle

Do you remember Block Parents from when you were a kid? I've often wondered how easy it would be for predators to infiltrate the program and lure children with the sign.

I've also wondered how effective it is. I think I knocked on a Block Parent's door once. I can't remember why, but I doubt it was very significant or I'd remember. I don't remember any other kids I knew knocking on Block Parent doors.

Anyhow, [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070501.wxlblock01/B... is an interesting article[/url] about this generation's Block Parent program.

I have to be honest, I would be nervous telling my kid to feel free to go inside a stranger's house with a Block Parent sign in the window. Here's why:

quote:

Now, the 39-year-old Canadian organization is reinventing itself with tough new security measures. Starting next month, block parents will face a 10-step screening procedure, a home visit and reference checks. They will get a revamped sign for their living-room windows, complete with an expiry date and a serial number to foil counterfeiters.

"We're doing the best that we can to make sure that this is a safe place for a child to go," said Linda Patterson, president of the Block Parent Program of Canada.

The efforts are an attempt to appease the public and the police after several jurisdictions - including Prince Edward Island, Toronto and parts of British Columbia - cancelled their block parent programs because of volunteer shortages and security concerns, Ms. Patterson said.

The changes resulted from a nationwide risk assessment that the group undertook with long-time law enforcement partners such as the RCMP.

"The program was old and it needed some updating and security features added to it," said Sergeant Martin Blais, a spokesman for the RCMP.

He said the move is preventive, and the changes aren't being made in response to a particular incident involving a child.


I'm sorry, but you're having a sticker on the sign that can't be counterfeited? Like a 9 year-old is going to be able to tell the difference between a counterfeit sticker and the real thing. Like they'd even think to LOOK for the sticker if they're in distress.

The screening program is a good thing.

When I was a kid, I was walking to and from school at 7 or 8 years old. These days, this is no longer the norm, as far as I can tell - many parents wouldn't dare let a kid that age travel by themselves unless they live right across the street from the school - at least not in a medium-sized city or suburb. So I'm not even sure how badly Block Parents are needed anymore.

abnormal

quote:


When I was a kid, I was walking to and from school at 7 or 8 years old

Forget that. I was walking or riding my bike to and from school from the second day of kindergarten. [b]Age 4[/b] My mother walked with me the first day to introduce me to the teacher.

Ditto my "kid" brother - during the summer I walked to and from school with him (start of the summer I did directions, later on he took me).

Note - he's 50 but he's still my kid brother.

Michelle

Seems to me that when I was in kindergarten and grade one, I walked to and from my babysitter's place. It was a couple of short blocks away from the school, if I remember correctly.

Most of the time I walked with her kids, I think. But they were such little bully creeps (and the babysitter wasn't much better) that I think I was safer when I walked alone!

jrose

My school was at the end of a very long street, so my mom used to walk me to the beginning of the street, and watch me walk down the rest of it. That way she always had her eye on my friends and I, but it gave me a false sense of independence as well!

I read the Block Parent article on the Go Train yesterday evening, and the same questions were popping in my mind. To be honest I hadn't even given the program a thought in years. When I was a child it seemed that they were everywhere, but I can't remember the last time that I saw one of those red and white signs posted in a neighbour's window.

remind remind's picture

My mother was a block parent for many years, and kids knocking on her door for a variety of reasons.

From having to use the washroom, to being locked out at home.

jrose

quote:


kids knocking on her door for a variety of reasons

That's interesting to know. I don't think I've ever had an encounter with anybody who has actually enlisted the services of a block parent, and I didn't even think of the variety of other reasons that children might be looking for help.

mgregus

It's funny, the issue of Block parent encounters has come up suddenly in my own conversation after the program appeared in the media. I haven't had any experiences with the program myself, but heard from a couple people recently that they used it for things like getting lost or scraping a knee. One friend's parents had the sign in the window and had a few kids knock on the door over the years. It's surprising, but good to hear, that people make use of the program!

jrose

Definitely. My memories of the program as a child was of the school system promoting it and of my parents telling me about it. One of my best friend’s as a child had parents who were block parents, so I remember always questioning their sign in the window. I can’t remember if they ever actually had children knocking on their door, but I grew up in a townhouse complex with many, many young families, so I guarantee they had the odd knock at the door. I’m glad to know its still around after years of not hearing it pop up in the media. I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled as I’m walking through the neighbourhood from now on, just for curiosities sake.

Phrillie

I certainly remember seeing the signs but I don't know of anyone who ever knocked on the doors. I had an older sib who walked me to school and back (and to Brownies and to the park and to music lessons ....) so I was lucky enough never to have to even consider approaching a Block Parent. Nowadays, with my own kids, our community is so small that effectively every house is a Block Parent house.