Police to use teddy bears in effort to reduce trauma

Latest campaign from random-act-of-kindness group aims to help police officers appear less scary to children

London-based group The Kindness Offensive (TKO) are joining forces with police departments nationwide to launch the Teddy Kindness Campaign, a new initiative aimed at preventing children from being traumatised during police visits.

According to research carried out by TKO, a group of like-minded individuals who perform random-acts-of-kindness on the public, encounters with police can have long-term negative effects on children.

“If you have a child, maybe two, three or four years old, the police look kind of scary in their outfits and they have weapons on them. It makes it difficult to put a nice image across to the child,” said Robert Williams, one of four core members of TKO, which operates from a free bookshop they have set up in Islington.

To combat this negative image, the group have had thousands of teddy bears created, which will soon be delivered to police departments across the UK.

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“[The idea] was given to us by a lady in the States, and they have something set up there called Trauma Teddy,” said Williams.

“They realised that when young children were being exposed to a policeman coming into the house, some of them were being really freaked out by it. Some of them had long-term effects, bad effects on them throughout their lives, as they were traumatised by it.

“They discovered that by giving the police something to give to the child, and communicate something that the child could relate to, it actually stopped them from suffering from all of that.”

With all the police departments in the UK already signed up for the campaign, TKO hopes to secure City Hall and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, for the project’s official launch. The mayor, who has previously supported the group’s work, has been invited to officially present the campaign to the public but has yet to confirm his attendance.