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Kent Police are putting teddy bears in all their traffic vehicles to give to children to comfort them after an accident.
All traffic vehicles now carry ‘trauma teddies’. The cuddly toys are given to youngsters up to the age of about six when they are trapped in
a vehicle or involved in a collision either as a passenger or pedestrian.
In 2008, more than 2,800 children were killed or seriously injured on the nation’s roads.
Head of the Roads Policing Unit, Chief Inspector Andrew Reeves, said:
‘Any road traffic collision is a bad thing, but it is particularly distressing to all concerned when children are involved. This initiative allows our officers to provide a small teddy bear to any children involved in such an incident, which can both comfort and calm them, and I am very grateful to PC Chapman and the local company that kindly provided the toys at no cost.’
The initiative was the brainchild of traffic officer Police Constable Darren Chapman. Having attended many distressing collisions he decided
to contact a Kent toy manufacturer who willingly donated about 100 teddy bears as well as other cuddly toys.
PC Chapman explained: ‘It’s more difficult when young children are involved in a collision because you can’t always explain what is happening to them. Fear and confusion can overwhelm them and sometimes all they need is comfort and reassurance rather than the type of explanation you would give an adult.
‘I am delighted that I have been able to source the toys at no cost to the force, and therefore the public, and am very grateful to the toy company for its empathy and support.’
The initiative also has the support of high profile organisations.
Victim Support’s Regional Manager South East, John Hayward Cripps, said: 'Victim Support is delighted that Kent Police is being proactive
in helping to meet the needs of young victims of car collisions in what can be very traumatic circumstances. We fully support the scheme.'
Kent County Council’s Road Safety Officer for Pedestrians, Darren Cook, said: ‘Being involved in a road collision is a very traumatic experience for anybody, especially children, who are not fully aware of what has happened. More often than not they are required to keep still whilst being rescued, or are trapped by the nature of their injuries or the mechanics of the collision, and this causes them stress.
‘Introducing a simple thing like a toy bear will make a huge difference to the child and will keep them more at ease through the stressful experience. I think it is a great idea and perhaps should be adopted on a wider scale.’