With the help of Denise and Bruce Morcombe, a sea of 600 students screamed the words “no, my body belongs to me” at the top of their lungs in The Multiplex as part of Day for Daniel.
The sentence echoed throughout the venue this morning and left a resounding message focused on child safety that Daniel Morcombe's parents have been spreading ever since a fateful day in December 2003.
Today, it was Day for Daniel commemorations and part of Child Protection Week in the region, with students from nine primary schools involved in learning more about how to protect themselves.
“It's important, no matter whether they are teenagers or younger children, that kids are able to recognise their body clues and remove themselves from an unsafe their situation,” Denise said.
“We teach them to Recognise, React and Report and if there is no one listening, to go to the next person and then the next until they are heard.”
Education vital in child protection
The Morcombes have been travelling the country to educate young people through The Daniel Morcombe Foundation, which was founded by Bruce and Denise after their son was abducted and murdered in December 2003 while waiting to catch a bus on the Sunshine Coast.
They have not stopped promoting the messages around child safety and in their Bundaberg workshop the couple included activities and information to not only keep children engaged, but to ultimately teach them about their own safety.
“At the end of the day it's all about keeping Bundy kids safe,” Bruce said.
“You have to be relevant and interesting and to involve the kids by being vocal and giving them some confidence.”
Bruce said Child Protection Week at the Multiplex was a great opportunity for students to meet with organisations and community members who could help them if they were ever in danger.
“It has been absolutely fantastic to see the emergency services, Crime Stoppers, the Australian Army and community people coming together to make this a positive event for the students,” he said.
Day for Daniel involves community
The Morcombes' slogan, “it takes a village to raise a child”, could not have been more prominent at the event, with teachers, parents and local organisations all chipping in to provide students with information on safety.
Bundaberg Police Inspector Pat Swindells said the event was significant in adding to the skill set of young people when it came to recognising danger and protecting themselves.
“The Child Protection Week program is something we have run for three years and we are very fortunate that Denise and Bruce Morcombe have made themselves available to talk to our young kids,” he said.
“The kids here have been absolutely fantastic, they spent over an hour listening to the Morcombes and you could have heard a pin drop.”
Inspector Swindells said internet safety was a major feature of the day.
“More and more young people have access to the internet,” he said.
“To teach them early on about protective behaviours on the internet is a step forward in the right direction in trying to reduce and stamp out illicit behaviour.”
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, along with other Councillors, attended Day for Daniel and said the Morcombes played a vital role in educating young people as well as parents.
“What an emotive message that the Morcombes have,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“It's about holding young people close to our heart but also passing the message on to them about child safety.
“It is certainly a great privilege to welcome the Morcombes here and to see our young people learning about how to protect themselves.”
Australia's Biggest Child Safety Lesson
The Morcombes' awareness campaign will continue tomorrow with Australia's Biggest Child Safety Lesson, a website full of resources and education to further teach young people about being safe.
“This year there is a new delivery technique which focuses on a children's news network,” Bruce said.
“We are looking for as many schools to register online so children can access this content … it will potentially save a life.”
“Day for Daniel is about seven weeks away so we are asking people to get involved and spread the child safety message about protecting kids.”
To find out more about Australia Biggest Child Safety Lesson click here.
To find out more about Day for Daniel, click here.