Child Safety Tips
- Don't be polite! Parents teach children to be "polite"; they should also teach that it's OK to be assertive and not talk to strangers. Adults should ask adults for help, not children!
- Explain the danger. Parents often tell children, "Don't go with strangers." This is vague and doesn’t help children protect themselves-most abductions are by relatives anyway! Better advice would be, "If you are lost or need help, sometimes it’s okay to ask strangers for assistance-but strangers shouldn’t be asking you for help or to go with them. You should not go somewhere with strangers unless you need their help in an emergency."
- Home and phone safety. Teach your child not to open the door to strangers except in a real emergency. Explain what an emergency might be, such as a medical problem or a fire. Tell them not to answer probing questions from strangers. Tell them to come get you, or to call you instead. Make sure they know how to reach you wherever you might be. Teach them how and when to call 9-1-1.
- Identify trusted adults. Pick stores, schools, churches, and homes of safe neighbors. Make sure your child knows these "safe places" that they should go if they need help. Remember, it’s generally safer if the child picks the adult!
- Make a code word. Teach the child a code word. If a visitor comes to get them, the visitor must know the code word, or the child should not go with them.
- NO-GO-TELL. If approached by somebody who is scary, or who asks them to do something that seems wrong, a child should yell "NO!" then GO immediately to a trusted adult and TELL what happened.
- Pick their routes and stay in groups. Avoid alleys, wooded areas, parking lots and spontaneous shortcuts. Choose areas where anything out of the ordinary would be noticed by neighbors, business owners, pedestrians, etc. Most importantly, help them avoid isolation. Arrange for them to walk with trusted friends. Consider providing them with a cell phone so that they can call for help.
- Teach what to do in an actual kidnap attempt. If a child is screaming, a passerby may think it's a child having a tantrum, and fail to recognize an actual abduction. Children who are victims of attempted abduction should repeatedly yell "Help! I don't know this person! I'm being kidnapped!" Children have been saved by doing this! Be sure your child knows that resistance-yelling, kicking, scratching, biting-is acceptable under these circumstances. Depending on the age of your child, encourage them to remember details: vehicle description or model, appearance of the person involved, what was said, etc. Call the police immediately.
- Who is a stranger? A stranger is anyone you don’t know. Make an agreement regarding who is safe to go with, and that they must say "NO!" to anyone else, no matter what! Teach your child to stay at least arms’ length away from a stranger who approaches them.