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Paw Patrol – getting the safeguarding message across early

Unless you regularly look after an under five year old, you may not know about Paw Patrol. You reach it via the far reaches of the kids’ sections of your Sky or Virgin media systems. It’s an animation about six puppies with remarkable physical attributes and gadgets that emerge from their bodies, who work together to accomplish rescue missions of alarming proportions. They are led by a tech savvy 10 year old boy, who controls a myriad of communication systems, but also, crucially, recognises what response is required and matches the puppies with their particular skills to the required task. Their aim is to safeguard the inhabitants of Adventure Bay where they all live.

Evidently there have been 196 episodes to date since 2013. Who’d have known it?

Paw Patrol starts from the premise that the main protagonists are search and rescue dogs, who fulfil roles similar to emergency service professionals such as a policeman, fire-fighter and an aviation pilot. There’s also my favourite, Rubble, who has a JCB excavator in his backpack and wears a hard hat. With their headgear I’m often reminded of the quirky Village People YMCA outfits as I watch the programme with my grand-daughter. Their human leader, Ryder, very much directs what’s happening but does it via simple explanation and encouragement.

I wonder if you have already picked up some key words from our safeguarding lexicon here? Safeguard, of course, but recognise and respond as well. The programme generally requires two or more of the pups to work together at any one time, so there’s effective partnership and coordination in the mix too.

I suppose there are many other children’s TV offerings that have similar characteristics, and clearly Paw Patrol is straight off the production line of a high quality animation company who know their market. Maybe it’s simply because it’s now my turn to watch this type of programme alongside a captivated almost three year old, but I find it re-assuring that there are some key positive messages being conveyed here. There may be other deeper meanings or different readings but I’ll leave these, open-minded, for another day.

I’m not sure we can replace that part of our Foundation Training Module that focusses on the 4 R’s of recognise, respond, record and refer with a Paw Patrol clip just yet. I don’t think they have mastered record and refer. However, being alert and in regular communication, seeing what’s amiss and identifying what needs to be done and by whom, is a good start.

For those that have been avid fans of Paw patrol for 9 years, apologies that I am so late to the party.

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