Getting Started With Child SafetyChildren are our most precious asset. Unfortunately, because of their vulnerability, children are popular targets for molesters, drug dealers, and other predatory criminals. By working with children and teaching them crime prevention measures, the chances of child victimization can be substantially reduced. An important tool for teaching children personal security is reinforcing their trust in the adults who care for them, such as parents, police and teachers. To further lessen the chances of children becoming victims, the following objectives should be stressed:
- Reassurance: Inform children they can be safer if they form good habits and follow some simple rules. One good rule for children to remember is: never go anywhere with anyone without their parents’ permission.
- Openness: Encourage your children to confide in you, even if the subject feels uncomfortable to them.
- Strangers: Teach children the difference between good strangers and bad strangers. Good strangers are police officers, teachers and firefighters. Children should seek assistance from them if they are in trouble. Children should avoid other strangers.
- Secrets: Discourage children from keeping bad secrets. A bad secret is when an adult tells a child to keep information from the child’s parents or guardian. An example would be an adult offering a child candy to get into his or her car and then telling the child not to tell anyone. Another example would be if an adult tries to touch the private body parts of a child and then tells the child not to tell anyone. Private body parts are parts of the body covered by a bathing suit. Child molesters have also been known to approach children and fake a family emergency. A good example would be a child molester who drives to a school bus stop and tells a child, "Your dad is hurt and your mom wants you to come with me to the hospital." The chances are high that a child placed in this circumstance might be tempted to get into the car. That is why parents should select a family code word that they and their children know. If a stranger does not know the code word, the children will know not to trust him or her. A good secret is keeping a family code word confidential.
Children Should Know
- The definition of an emergency and when to contact police, fire or paramedics.
- Their full name, address, and telephone number, including area code.
- Their parents' full name and work telephone number.
- How and when to use 911 and how to use a public telephone.
- How to use the telephone to call home.
- That they should check in with you or a trusted neighbor when he or she gets home from school so you always know where they are.
- Where to go for safety if you are not around.
- Always keep doors locked, even during the day.
- Anyone they don't know is a stranger.
- Stay away from cars occupied by strangers.
- Never open doors for strangers.
- Never tell anyone who comes to the door (or anyone who calls on the telephone) that they are alone.
- When answering the telephone, never give information to strange callers.
- It's OK to say NO to an adult if the adult makes them feel uncomfortable or wants them to do something they feel is bad.
- Never let anyone touch them where their underwear or swimsuit should cover.
- It's OK to run away and scream "HELP" if someone tries to make them do something they don't want to do.
- It's OK to tell if someone offers them gifts or money, or wants to photograph them.
- How to describe a person's appearance, clothing and their car if they are ever approached by a stranger.
- Run to other people and to lighted areas if they are being followed.
- Stay near parents while in a store or other public place.
- Never go out to a parking lot if they get separated from parents in a shopping center or mall.
- Go to the nearest checkout counter and ask a cashier or clerk for assistance if they get lost in a store.
- What to do if they should become lost in a crowd.
- Stay in one place if they get lost.
- Never go into a public restroom alone.
Practicing SafetyPlay crime prevention roles with your children and teach them how to respond. If properly prepared, your children will automatically take the correct crime prevention action in a dangerous situation. It is important to practice with your children and to encourage a "crime prevention attitude" in their daily lives.
Rules For Parents
- Encourage your children to communicate with you. If someone is causing them to be anxious, fearful, or concerned for their safety, but has not attempted overt acts, parents need to know about it.
- Never leave your children unattended.
- Know where your children are at all times.
- Know your children's friends, where they live and their telephone numbers.
- Listen to your children when they tell you they don't want to be with someone and ask why.
- Have your children's school or day care center personnel call immediately if your children are absent.
- Use extreme caution when selecting a babysitter, preschool or day care center. Check their references and have face-to-face meetings with the babysitter, preschool and day care center personnel who will be looking after your children.
- Get to know your neighbors, especially in a new neighborhood.
Ten Things Kids Can Do To Stop Violence
- Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons. Don't stand around and form an audience.
- Learn safe routes for walking in the neighborhood, and know good places to seek help. Trust your feelings, and if there's a sense of danger, get away fast.
- Report any crimes or suspicious actions to the police, school authorities, and parents. Be willing to testify if needed.
- Don't open the door to anyone you and your parents don't know and trust.
- Never go anywhere with someone you and your parents don't know and trust.
- If someone tries to abuse you, say no, get away, and tell a trusted adult. Remember, it's not the victim's fault.
- Don't use alcohol and other drugs, and stay away from places and people associated with them.
- Stick with friends who are also against violence and drugs, and stay away from known trouble spots.
- Get involved to make school safer and better such as having poster contests against violence, holding anti-drug rallies, counseling peers, and settling disputes peacefully. If there's no program, help start one!
- Help younger children learn to avoid being crime victims. Set a good example and volunteer to help with community efforts to stop crime.