It’s back to school time and that means crazy busy schedules, carpooling and getting the family back into a routine. In all the excitement, it is important to take the time to educate children
Back to School Stranger Danger
It’s back to school time and that means crazy busy schedules, carpooling and getting the family back into a routine. In all the excitement, it is important to take the time to educate children and remind your teens of “stranger danger.” This is a crazy world we live in, and even though we live in safe communities, the threat is real for our children and teens.
I’m not trying to scare you, but did you know that approximately 2,100 children are reported missing every day and that teenagers are by far the most frequent victims of kidnapping. According to the FBI, most kidnappings happen within a quarter mile from home. This is a parents’ worst nightmare! Thankfully, many times, it ends up just being a matter of miscommunication between the child and the parent as to their whereabouts, but it’s better to be prepared and vigilant when it comes to their safety,
Here are some tips on what to teach your kids about “stranger danger” to help prevent an abduction from occurring.
· Remind your children and teens to tell an adult (preferably Mom or Dad) where they are headed and to update you if their plans change.
· Tell them to stay on main routes and avoid short-cuts through woods or less traveled places.
· There is safety in numbers, so if your child or teen is supposed to meet you somewhere to get picked up, have them wait with friends.
· Tell your teen children who are of driving age to always have their car key in their hand when heading to a parking lot and to be aware of their surroundings. They shouldn’t be looking at their phone and fumbling for their keys.
· Explain to your child that if they are approached by an adult who is asking for help or directions that they should stay alert, as this may be an attempt to draw them in closer. Normally adults would ask for help or directions from other adults, not from children.
· Tell your children to never accept gifts or candy from strangers or go anywhere with someone they don’t know, even if it sounds like fun. For your teens, make them aware that they may be offered things like alcohol or drugs to try to lure them into someone’s car.
· Have an identification photograph taken of your child at least every six months and have them fingerprinted at your local police station.
· Be aware of your child’s activities on the Internet and remind them that personal information should not be given out to strangers online. Many predators pose as children or teens online to lure in their victims.
· Supervise your children when you are out in public and never leave your child alone in a car or stroller—not even for a couple of minutes.
· Accompany your children if they are doing door-to-door fundraising for school or for an organization.
· Check the references of babysitters, day care providers, and home cleaning professionals before allowing them near your children.
· Let your children’s school know when someone other than you will be picking them up.
· Avoid buying backpacks or clothing with your child’s name on it. Children tend to trust people who call them by their first name.
· Explain the concept of a stranger to your younger children and tell them that strangers may not look scary but can hurt them. Strangers can be men or women and young or old.
· Tell your child that if anyone follows them, bothers them or makes them feel uncomfortable, that they should get away as quickly as they can. Then they should immediately tell a parent, teacher or trusted adult about what happened.
· Advise your child or teen that if someone does get a hold of them and tries to take them somewhere, that they should do everything in their power to quickly get away and yell, “This person is trying to take me away!” or “This person is not my father (mother)!”
· One of the most important tips to tell your children is to “TRUST THEIR GUT.” If something doesn’t feel right, they shouldn’t do it. They shouldn’t be concerned with being impolite or hurting someone’s feelings.
Heading back to school is a good time to remind your children of “stranger danger,” but this should be an on-going conversation with frequent reminders. These tips need to be shared with your teen repeatedly because as they explore their new freedoms, they also put themselves more at risk. Remember when you had to remind them to look both ways before crossing the street, well it takes hearing this information time and again to really sink in.
Don’t be hesitant about having this conversation with your children for fear that it will “scare” them. Experts say that teaching your kids and teens about safety empowers them.
Have a great school year!
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