Protecting your child begins with being informed and educated about what and how to teach your child when it comes to safety. Basic principles apply from the time a child understands names, addresses, and telephone numbers until they’re adults. Situations change and a need for more awareness is a continual process for parents who should relay the information on to their children.
As a soon as your child is old enough teach him his name, your name, his address and phone number with area code. Teaching a child to dial 911 can keep tragedy at bay. Make sure your older children know your place of work and exactly whom you can be reached. With the cell phone widely used today, we are seldom out of reach.
1.Keep a recently updated photograph of your child readily available at all times. Keep one at home and in your wallet or purse.
2.Have your children fingerprinted and keep in your wallet or purse along with DNA report. Although, police may set up clinics to fingerprint children, they do not keep them. It’s up to you, as parents to store this important information in handy places
3.Get a passport for your child. Both parents must be present when applying for a child’s passport unless only one parent has custody.
4.Know where your child is at all times. This means getting to know the friends of your child as well as their parents.
5.If your child should find himself lost, teach younger children to stay put. You will find them. Have a designated area for an older child to go to, if you should become separated.
6.Be sure caregivers know who will be picking up the child from daycare, preschool, or school.
7.Always supervise children playing on the Internet.
8.If your child should become missing: report it immediately. Be prepared to describe in detail how your child looks, what he/she is wearing. Have a photograph ready to show.
Lessons to teach your children:
Never, ever leave children alone at home, in a car, a mall, a store, anywhere. Young children should never be out of sight of parents or caregivers, but they will run into strangers from time to time. This is a good opportunity to start talking with your preschooler about strangers. A stranger is anyone a child does not know. This could be someone who lives next door but the child has never actually met. Just because they live in your neighborhood does not make them safe. Teach your child who to go to in an emergency: police officers or store clerks. Also teach you child that sometimes strangers dress up in the clothes of a fireman or police officer, so be wary if someone wearing a uniform approaches him. Remember there is a difference between your child approaching a uniformed person and your child being approached by a uniformed person.
Many times parents force a child to sit on someone’s lap, hug, or kiss people the child does not want to be affectionate toward. It is best to allow the child to go with his or her own intuition. If your child shies away from kissing Aunt Polly let her know it’s ok and that she decides who she wants to touch her. This gives the child self-confidence to know that do not have to acquiesce to just anyone when it comes to touching. LISTEN to your child and believe what he or she tells you.
As a child gets older and begins walking to school or playing about the neighborhood unsupervised, insist on a buddy system. Have a group of friends or neighborhood children walk to school together. Make sure your child understands the importance of NOT being alone when walking to and from school.
Children should never accept candy or gifts offered from a stranger. Tell your child that no safe adult would ever ask a child for directions. These two points are of the utmost importance. If children have been taught this since preschool, they will see it as second nature and not be reeled in by the bait. Another trick to alert your child to is a stranger telling them that an emergency has occurred and they are to pick up the child. Assure your child repeatedly that you would not send a stranger to pick them up ever, for any reason. Do not allow your child to be gullible and swayed by lies.
Older children between the ages of 12 and 17 want and sometimes demand their small freedoms, as they should. It is within the 12 to 17 age group that abductions by strangers are mostly likely. In fact, 81% of abductions occur in this age group. A frightening thought, however, if the lines of communication are kept open and parents continue to guide their children with information and open discussions of what not to do as well as suitable behaviors all will be well. The buddy system should come into play as well as everything learned. Talk to your teen about the dangers of walking in isolated areas alone. Even though they may laugh and tell you they’re not babies, they will take your words to heart.
What to do if your child is approached:
By following the above teachings you’ve all ready provided your child with an arsenal of behaviors that are important to staying safe. Even with all precautions used your child may be confronted with an unsafe situation. Knowing how to respond to each could be lifesaving. If a child is accosted by a stranger offering candy or gifts the child should back away while saying, “NO!” This is not the time to be quiet. Explain to your child the importance of being loud and firm. If a uniformed person approaches your child, the child should immediately go to another adult in close proximity and tell them what happened.
There are four words that could alter life-threatening situations:
1.NO! Your child should learn to yell this out loud and long. In a way that gets other people’s attention. You may want to teach your child to scream out, “NO! YOU ARE NOT MY PARENT!”
2.GO! After yelling out no, teach your child to run. Run away as fast as possible to a safe place, into a public building, or among people. Predators do not want to be discovered. Drawing attention to the situation will quickly move them away from the child.
3.YELL. Teach your child to yell and scream. The kind of yell you want them to learn is not one that children use in play, but a low, guttural, scream that comes from the stomach not the throat. It should be long and extremely loud. Again, this device will draw attention to the scenario as your child is running away and yelling.
4.TELL. It’s important that your child to you or another adult what has happened. Contact the police immediately. Depending on the age, give the police a description.
Vacationing presents a different situation. You and your child well be in unfamiliar territory. Make a card for each child that gives address, phone number, name of parents, and where you’re staying. Each child keeps this card tucked into a pocket in case of separation. Put some rules and boundaries in place as soon as you arrive at your destination. First, show children the exits in case of fire and determine a meeting spot outside if you should become separated. Since many vacations include trips to crowded amusement parks and tourist attractions make sure your child is dressed conspicuously. Wear bright, bold colors on them, especially when it comes to shoes. Hot pink shoes can be sighted easily among the shoes of many. Do not allow your child to wear or carry anything with their name prominently displayed on the outside.
If you should become separated, have a designated spot to meet at for older children. The younger ones should stay where they are. Always assure your child you will find them. Cell phones can be a godsend in lost situations. Teach your children how to use one as soon as they’re old enough.
If your child is missing:
Report a missing child as fast as possible. The sooner law enforcement is aware the more likely that your child will be found without harm. Reassure your child that if someone should abduct them you will not stop looking for them. Children are often told their parents are no longer looking or care. Make sure your child knows that you will never stop looking.
The Amber Alert plan was named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. This plan pulls together law enforcement, broadcasting, and transportation to bring to the forefront a serious abduction of a child. This gets the information of both child and the predator out to the public as quick as possible, giving the child more of a chance to be found safe. To date there have been 266 recovered children because the Amber Alert was put into place.
The criteria for an Amber Alert to be issued consists of the following:
1.Law enforcement must confirm that there has been abduction. Stranger abductions are considered the most serious and given prompt attention.
2.Risk of serious bodily injury or death. Again, stranger abductions are the most dangerous to a child.
3.Sufficient Descriptive Information. There must be enough information to pass on to the public regarding the child and the predator.
4.The age of child. Children 17 and under are given immediate precedence.
5.NCIC (National Crime Information Center) data entry. The child’s name and pertinent information regarding the abduction must be entered immediately and red flagged.
The best way to protect your child is to teach your child how to be safe and what to do if a situation should arise that puts your child in peril. Talking to children about what to do and how to react is the first step. Knowing, as a parent, what to do if your child is missing can make all the difference in the world.