It can be a difficult thing for parents to talk to kids about the fact that there are people out there who would want to take them away, or even do them harm. As parents, we would love to have our children grow up believing that the world is a safe and secure place.
In the eyes of a child, it’s hard to understand that anyone would want to harm them in any way. One of the most important things parents can do to increase the safety of their child is to talk with their children about the dangers that exist, even role-play various scenarios with them. Discuss a few situations each. Try not to scare them to death, but make them aware of the possible dangers around them.
Don’t take anything for granted about what you think your child knows!
General Information Your Child Should Know:
When to call 911 and what to say to the dispatcher (name, address, and tell what is happening).
Know the parent(s) full name(s) (“Mommy and Daddy” is not enough)
Know home address and phone number
Know where the parent(s) are employed
Know at least one close friend and/or relative’s phone number
- Have you taught your child to recite his or her names, address & phone number? Sometimes putting the information in a simple song may help a child remember.
- Does your child understand that he or she should NEVER get in a car with anyone but Mom or Dad, or someone that parents have given permission?
- If you must send someone else to pick up a child, do you have a secret code word? Does your child know to ALWAYS ask for the code word (while standing a safe distance from the vehicle) before getting into anyone else’s car?
- Does your child know not to get into cars or go into the houses of neighbors he or she doesn’t know very well? (Go over a list of acceptable neighbors).
- Have you explained to your child that, if lost or in danger, he or she can locate a pay phone and dial 911? Children should know that they do not need money to call 911. Remind them that this is a safety tool, and not to be played with (now is a good time to tell them the story of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf”).
- Does your child know to NEVER use a public restroom alone?
- Does your child know that it is OK to say “no” to adults?
- Does your child know to be as loud as possible if he or she is in danger?
- Does your child know that if someone comes into their room late at night, to scream and make noise no matter what the intruder tells them.
- Does your child know that it’s OK to use physical force such as kicking, if he or she needs to protect themselves from harm?
- Does your child know to approach a police officer if he or she has a problem or needs help?
PLEASE DON’T TELL CHILDREN THAT POLICE WILL TAKE THEM AWAY IF THEY ARE BAD.
- Does your child know the body parts that are unacceptable for others to touch?
- Does your child know to shout “no!” or “stop!” if someone touches him or her inappropriately?
- Does your child understand that even trusted people shouldn’t ask him or her to do something that makes them uncomfortable? Only 1.4 percent of abductions are by total strangers!
- Are you careful to never leave your child unattended in a public place or in a car?
- Do you know your child’s friends and their parents? You should have a list with their phone number and address.
- If your child is going to play at a friend’s house, do you call their parents to confirm that it is OK and/or if they are at home?
- Do you know the route your child takes from school to home?
- Have you designated “safe” houses in your neighborhood where your child may go it he or she is being harassed or followed or made to feel uncomfortable?
- Are you involved in your child’s after-school activities?
- Do you have a current photo and/or video of your child?
- Do you observe what you child is wearing on a daily basis?
- Do you have your child’s fingerprints or DNA Samples (plucked hair with follicle, fingernails clippings, baby teeth?).
- Do you remember to never print a child’s name on the outside of their clothes or use nametags when they are in public?
- If your child doesn’t want to be with someone, do you ask why he or she is uncomfortable with this person – and pursue until you find the reason?
- Have you told your child that if he or she gets lost, you will look for them for as long as it takes?
- Do you always perform a reference and background check on a new caregiver? You can go on line to CBI for a criminal history check (for a nominal fee). Need the name and preferably a date of birth.
- Have you checked the sex offender book at the police department? It is available for you at the police records counter free of charge. Just bring a photo I.D.
- Do you keep a close eye on your child using the Internet. (We teach them not to talk to strangers, why let them do it on-line?)