Far North Queensland Police work with libraries to collect and distribute books to children involved in traumatic events, providing them with a welcome and healthy distraction in times of crisis.
Backseat Books is an initiative led by Senior Sergeant Marty Ots and is currently being rolled out across the Far North Police District after being piloted in regional towns including Cairns from 2020.
Senior Sergeant Ots said providing a book to children while in the back seat of a police vehicle allows children to redirect their attention and reduce the lasting effects of trauma.
“Unfortunately, children can testify to difficult and difficult situations that can upset them,” said Master Sergeant Ots.
“Through this program, our goal is to have a range of books in the backseat of police vehicles that can be given to a child in crisis, providing a welcome distraction and calming the child down.”
Acting Chief Superintendent Chris Hodgman said the initiative is helping improve youth-police relations.
“Research indicates that children exposed to multiple negative experiences are more likely to lead dysfunctional lives and get into trouble with the police as they age,” Acting Chief Superintendent Hodgman said.
“Backseat Books is designed to provide a safe space for children to escape their crisis.”
The books have been collected over the past six months, donated by the State Library of Queensland and local councils, including Cairns Regional Council.
Cairns councilor Amy Eden said the program introduced children to constructive distraction and fostered a love of reading in young people.
“Readers of all ages can transform their mindset and escape to another world by immersing themselves in a good book,” said Cr Eden.
“Giving young people who are going through a traumatic event a book that is appropriate for their age, reading level, and cultural considerations can reduce stress, provide a mental escape, and exercise their imaginations.
“Over 900 books have been collected by Cairns Libraries – from picture books to junior fiction and non-fiction titles – which are now donated to this incredible programme.
“We are proud to support Backseat Books to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and hope this initiative will also improve literacy and foster a genuine love of reading among young people in Cairns.”