Why is Safety Planning Important?
This can never guarantee safety.
This can help lower the risk, whether the event is impulsive or planned.
You cannot control what youth will do. You can try to manage both impulsive and planned events by:
- Making harmful behaviors toward self or others more difficult to engage in by removing and/or locking up items that could lead to dangerous situations. (Safety Planning).
- Putting plans in place to support youth if there is a crisis. (Crisis Prevention Plans).
Goals of Safety Planning
- Increase safety and lower risk.
- Remove or lock and thoughtfully manage safety hazards in the child’s environment.
Remember time is always your best friend.
- The more time it takes to find a dangerous item, the more time there is to coach or intervene.
- The more time between the child’s thought and the child’s access to a way to hurt oneself (or someone/something else), the more time there is for the child to cool off and think more rationally.
In periods of high risk:
- Parents may want to limit private time for fear of what a child may do without eyes on them.
- This can become a source of contention between parent/caregiver and child which often leads to upsetting behavior.
Find ways to offer privacy while ensuring safety, such as:
- Safety-proof your child’s room.
- Your child’s door should not lock.
- Do not take the doors off rooms, but make sure the room is safe.
- Do room searches.
- Do parent check-ins.
These happen at the parent’s/caregiver’s discretion, but never without your child’s knowledge.
- Tell your child why the search is needed in the moment.
- Do not give advance warning.
- Offer your child the opportunity to be present.
- Share that you prefer honesty and would rather they hand over or share where you will find concerning items, rather than finding them on your own.
- If they do so, thank them for their honesty and commitment to their own safety.
These expectations can be part of the Crisis Prevention Plan (CPP).
Expectations for Check-Ins
Youth will likely want to spend time alone in their room.
Parents have a right to check-in but should always knock.
- Decide how often check-ins are needed on case-by-case basis.
- When youth are in crisis, do check-ins more often (every 15 to 30 minutes).
- When youth stable, do check-ins less often.
When parents knock, the child must answer.
- If the child does not answer in reasonable time frame, such as 5 to 10 seconds, the parent may enter.
- It is not necessary to talk during check-ins and you may consider using signals or gestures
- Must make visual contact and see that all is well.
These expectations can be part of the CPP.