We’ve all seen the terrible stories on the news of children being kidnapped or worse. You do your best to protect yours, of course, but is it enough?
One of the first things many parents teach their kids is to not talk to strangers. Strangers have been known to ask a child to help them find a lost puppy, or other similar tactics, which may fool even a well trained child. Help your children to understand that. Another tactic is for the stranger to offer the child money to do an errand. Tricks like these are ones your child should be aware of.
This is why it's even more important to teach them to never go with a stranger. A lost child may need to talk to a stranger. Make sure they know that the most important thing they should do is stay where their parents can expect to find them, regardless of what a stranger says.
By now, you have probably also heard that it is good to have a password so that your children will know if it is true that you have asked someone – even a family friend – to pick them up. This is a good rule, as children may be harmed by people they know, not just strangers. It’s not fun to think that someone you trust could do something to harm your children, but it is a reality to be faced and to be prepared for. Most parents will never have to face that, but others will.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things is deciding how to handle it when a child needs to use the restroom, and you are not able to follow them in. Do not be afraid to shout into the restroom to ask if they are all right. Whenever possible, of course, do not have your children use a public restroom alone. Bring a friend for them if possible, if you are not able to go in with them.
You should also make sure your children know to make a fuss, even if they don’t think anyone will hear them. Teach them to head for places where there will be people if they are isolated. Children should know to find a police officer, security guard or an employee working in a store and ask them for help. Failing that, a parent with children is a reasonable choice.
The number one safety tip for children, of course, is to not be afraid to tell YOU! Tell them it doesn’t matter if they were breaking a rule at the time or were told not to tell, they must feel free to tell you if someone has done anything they are uncomfortable with. Be ready to listen, and try not to appear angry, as your children may think your anger is directed at them. Make sure they know it was not their fault and that you will do everything possible to keep it from happening again. Then file that police report and quite probably get counseling, not only for your child, but for yourself if you find the situation more than you want to think about.
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Today's children are likely to spend a lot of time online, especially as they get older. Teach them the rules for dealing with strangers online.
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