Friday, 12 June 2015

UK’s First School Resource To Tackle Dog Bite Incidents Involving Children Launched

The largest dog welfare organisation in the country, the Kennel Club, has launched the UK’s first ever educational resource for primary schools, to teach safe interaction between children and dogs to help reduce dog bite incidents involving children.

The launch of the Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Teaching Resource, funded by the Kennel Club Educational Trust, coincides with National Dog Bite Prevention Week (7-14 June) and the release of statistics that show that 0-9 year olds are the most likely age group to be admitted to hospital due to dog bites and strikes.

The new teaching resource is supported by Michael and Shirley Anderson, the parents of fourteen year-old Jade Anderson, who was tragically killed by dogs in Atherton, near Wigan, in 2013, and they have expressed the importance of education to improve child safety around dogs and reduce dog bite incidents.

Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston, London, is the first school in the UK to successfully teach the resource, and has been accredited officially as a ‘Safe and Sound School’ by the Kennel Club.

The resource is free for schools to use and is the first of its kind to be written to fit the national curriculum, so schools can write the resource into their lessons and use it to educate children on how to interact safely with dogs.

It teaches children about safety around dogs and includes elements such as understanding ‘dog language’, recognising signs that a dog’s behaviour may result in a dog showing aggression; why dogs may bite; what to do and what not to do around dogs; how to approach dogs; and what to do if a dog shows signs of aggression.

Schools which sign up to receive the resource will be provided with an interactive computer-based tool for the pupils to use for learning, which includes a number of visual elements to engage them in the classroom.

Children aged eight are at the developmental level most suited to absorbing, understanding and remembering information being taught to them, so the resource has been designed for this age group (Year 4) but can be adapted and taught in Year 5 and Year 6, depending on the ability of the children and their current learning.

The resource can be taught across four lessons, with the final lesson consisting of an assessment to determine the pupils’ learning. It is designed to be flexible and schools can teach it as a standalone module or can build aspects of it in to other lessons to cover the numeracy and literacy aspects which fit in to the national curriculum, such as English and maths.

With the UK’s dog population currently at a high of around 8.5 million, and around 25 per cent of households owning a dog, children will inevitably come across dogs in their day-to-day lives. Recent figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that between March 2014 and February 2015, there were 1,159 hospital admissions caused by dog related incidents (bites and strikes) affecting children up to the age of 9. This makes them the group most highly affected by dog bites, showing the need for a structured educational tool to educate children, as well as parents for continued home learning, on how to behave around dogs.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The Kennel Club has launched this resource for two simple reasons – to help ensure that children know how to safely interact with dogs and to help reduce dog bite incidents involving children.

“As both the dog and human population in the UK continue to grow, we need a structured education programme in place to help ensure that both can live together safely.  The vast majority of dog bite incidents are avoidable and we believe that by schools using the Safe and Sound resource we will start seeing real change in the way children interact with dogs.

“Most incidents involving dogs happen within the home and we are delivering an education tool that will teach children lessons in the classroom that they can then apply to their day-to-day lives at home or when in a public place.”

In a joint statement expressing support for the resource, Michael and Shirley Anderson, said: “We are firm believers that education plays a key role in helping to reduce the number of dog bite incidents in this country.  

“The Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound teaching resource is the first educational tool that will help to teach kids how to interact safely with dogs on an ongoing basis, and it will prepare them for caring for a dog in the right way.  In the past there’s been nothing available for schools to use to write this kind of thing into their lessons, so we are excited to be able to support something that is so important to us and close to our hearts.”

For more information on the Safe and Sound Quality Kitemark Teaching Resource, and for primary schools to sign up to teach the resource, visit www.safetyarounddogs.org.uk.

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