Child safety tips are best taught by role-playing, not just talking. Play the "what if" game so they’ll learn how to respond to situations such as: "What if a stranger on the phone starts asking too many questions?" "What if the doorbell rings?" “What if you and your friends find a gun in your friend’s house?” "What if a stranger tries to get you to go with him?" “What if you get separated from family or friends in crowds?” Talk with your children often and ask them if they ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable. If so, find out why.
Staying actively involved in your children’s lives helps keep molesters out. Always know where your kids are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. Predators avoid children with watchful parents who are active in their lives. Volunteer to chaperone extracurricular activities, especially those involving overnight trips.
Know your children's friends, their families, and those they baby-sit. Get as much information as you can. In all, stay fully involved in your child’s life.
Tell your kids again and again: "Never go anywhere without my OK." And, "Always tell me the truth – keep no secrets from me." Always reward your child for telling you the truth – never punish them. Make sure your child can always trust you with the truth and not fear you.
• Teach your child how to use a phone to call for help - see Teaching Children How To Make 911 Calls (toward the bottom of the page).
• Post Emergency Information near your phone so your children, guests, or a babysitter can call more effectively. List your phone number, the numbers of friends, relatives, neighbors, pediatrician, poison control, utilities, your office number and wherever else you might be.
• Near your phone, post your address, cross-streets, house description, and directions to your home. Install six-inch high black-on-white (or reflective) house numbers on your house in a highly visible location – and paint four-inch black-on-white numbers on the curb by your driveway.
• Keep a current list of the names and phone numbers of your child’s friends. If your child is missing, immediately search your house and likely locations, call your child’s friends, then call the police. A parent’s rapid response is crucial.
• Personal Security Alarm: (screamer or noisemaker). An attacker won’t likely chase a noisy target.
• GPS Child Locator: to track a child. A variety of models are available. I highly recommend these if used with the utmost parental discretion.
• The After-School Lives of Children: Alone and With Others While Parents Work by Deborah Belle.
• Child Lures: What Every Parent and Child Should Know About Preventing Sexual Abuse and Abduction by Kenneth Wooden. Contact at childlures.org.
• Missing! Stranger Abduction by Robert Stuber, the founder of children’s “escape schools” at bobstuber.com.
• My Body Is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard and Rodney Pate. Helps parents teach children aged 4-8.
• Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe by Gavin de Becker.
• Raising Safe Kids in an Unsafe World: 30 Simple Ways to Prevent Your Child from Becoming Lost, Abducted or Abused by Jan Wagner.
• The Safe Zone: A Kid’s Guide to Personal Safety by Donna Chaiet. For children aged 8-15, scenarios for role-play and discussion between parent and child.
Safety & Self-Defense Programs
• Impact Personal Safety programs for men, women, and children are at www.PrepareInc.com.
• RadKids.org superbly covers both child self-defense and all-around child safety tips for ages 5-12. The level of instruction increases for each age group. And it’s a terrific bargain: pay the fee once and your child can come back again and again at no cost at any RadKids location. I HIGHLY recommend it. Even the very best parent cannot possibly cover what RadKids thoroughly does – all in a gentle and fun fashion. (I’d love to see this program expand globally – you can become a certified RadKids instructor and bring this comprehensive lifesaving program to your hometown. Just do it!)
Check Your Neighborhood
FamilyWatchdog.us shows the registered sex offenders living in your area. However, since child molesters average 107 victims before their first arrest – many won’t be on the maps yet. And remember that sex offenders may prowl outside their neighborhood, or are homeless, or – as 24 percent do nationwide – assume false identities and disappear.