BACK TO SCHOOL- SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN

Children's Safety

 

Most parents or guardians have one common question on their mind; “How do I keep my child safe?”

The truth of the mater is that there is no one perfect way or solution, or for that matter guarantee that with all you teach them that it will be 100% effective. With that said I’ve developed some simple and easy ways to help your child stand a fighting chance against a predator.

 

First the simple old philosophy of “Stranger Danger” is a very abstract concept for children to understand. When you consider that most abductions and assaults are perpetrated by a person the victim knows. So how do we then protect the child? The answer is simple approach the situation from a different angle. The first step is to build the child's confidence, and teach them how to react to what could be a potentially bad situation or person with clear and direct thought. By no means am I saying to teach a child to talk back to adults disrespectfully, or to throw tantrums at will, rather help them to evaluate the situation and use key “passwords” to help guide them through. This will avoid the confusing aspect of “Watch out for Weirdos” syndrome. 

The younger the child, the more difficult it is to get the child to comprehend the importance of their circumstances. So lets start of with some basic 101 fundamentals. First let’s talk about how to approach the child when trying to discuss their safety. 

 

The Talk: Whenever it is that you choose to have this conversation, try to do it at time when the child is most alert and not distracted with other things. This may sound like the obvious, but all to often I have bear witness to parents trying to multitask this conversation. UNDERSTAND THIS, trying to talk to the child for 3 minutes while driving to the mall, grocery store, or grandmas is not the ideal time. First, it is impossible to fully watch the child's reactions and see in there expressions as to whether or not they are understanding what is being said. Second, if you expect the child to take value in what is being said be prepared and spend time preparing and presenting the information. How would they give you there undivided attention if you are NOT GIVING THEM YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION at that moment. Think about it, if the child was playing with clay or barbies asking you questions how seriously are you going to be listening? The child needs to be taught in a way that expresses the need to pay close attention with out scaring them. Reassure the child, help build there confidence in a positive thoughtful way. Third, consider the child’s age and ability to comprehend what you are discussing with them. Most  toddlers or four year olds will not sit still long enough to hear most of what is being said. So you must rely on simplifying the information and presenting it in a creative way such as a puppet show, or role playing, etc. Fourth, try to create an optimal time which to discuss the safety concerns. Choose a time when you feel they are relaxed or less distracted with the day to day chores. Fifth, give validation to the child's concerns and questions. Do not dismiss or devalue what a child is asking. The child may try to already communicate a situation they are already in. For example, a young child may ask his father what should he do if a red headed alien with a green space suit was always tickling him and making him feel bad. The father dismiss what is said thinking it is their imagination may answer “There are no such things , so don't worry.” Later, it may be discovered that a neighbor 4 houses away who had red hair and constantly wore a green sweater was arrested for molesting his son and two of this sons friends. Be mindful of how you answer, think of a way to stay positive and direct them to a solution, again validate there words. Sixth, Try to make the talk a pleasurable one. Child safety is serious, but you can make it creative and fun. Your objective is to make them understand they are loved and protected by you, and that no mater what is happening they can talk with you about anything when ever they need to. Consistency is the answer when teaching them about safety . 

 

General information on safety: “PASSWORD!” Need I say that again, “PASSWORD.’ Every child should have a password, a word that indicates to the child its okay to go with the adult, be it Uncle, Friend, Neighbor, etc. This in of itself can be more valuable than there name. Understand this: A child going with an adult (neighbor or relative) is no safer than if he knows his name. If the child has a password, the child knows not to go with the adult unless they know the password. I’m not saying the value of their name is less, I am saying that the value of a password is immeasurable. Teach the child their full name, password, and anything else that they can remember. Here is a list of info and the order i put it in: 

 

Full Name with with password: If the child is approached the predator would need to know not only there full name but the password to get compliance from the child.

Social Security Number: This is like no other number on this PLANET, it is theirs and theirs alone. Law enforcement can get any info off of a Social Security number, including birth date, address, etc..

The home address: Relevant to finding home.

The home phone number: Relevant to contacting home.

 Parents / Guardian full name: to whom they need to get to. 

 

Now lets get into some of the more specific areas and situations of safety:

 

Safety in the home. 

 

Be sure to teach your child how to dial 911 from a phone. This is by far the most important of all. The reason being is it translates universally throughout the USA, being able to, and understanding how to dial 911 from a phone can mean the difference in any situation. 

Explain the rules of answering the door, keeping it locked, and not allowing anyone entry with out you knowing about it i.e.. “password.” Be sure to have rules in place about guests when you aren't home. Also take into consideration how or if they should answer the phone at all. Simple enough, if you allow them to answer have them avoid direct questions as to who is home with them. I am not suggesting you teach them to lie, only to sway the the answer away from the direct truth, i.e. my mom or dad aren't able to come to the phone, may I take a message. If the person calling is persistent, tell them to hang up and have the child call you directly, informing you of the situation.

Teach them to call you at work or on a cell phone: Let the child know you can be reached if necessary. 

Babysitter: Take great care in choosing a babysitter. References checks are only one part, get a background check from local law enforcement, and if the sitter is under age, consider getting a letter from the school they attend as to verify their disciplinary record if any. Don't be afraid to come back home unannounced, or at an unexpected time to see what is going on. Talk to the child about what went on while being watched and listen carefully for anything that sounds wrong.

 

Safety to and from School

 

1. Take your child to and from the school more than once. Allow me to repeat that, “TAKE THE CHILD MORE THAN ONCE TO AND FROM THE SCHOOL!’ This will give the child confidence and comfort on how to do it with out you. While doing it, show them landmarks that they can easily identify, along with “Safety Zones,” i.e. stores, police stations, Firehouses, post office, etc. Role play with them or even play a game of tag using a “Safety Zone” as base. The child will naturally look for these places if you teach them they are safe for them to go to if being followed. If your child rides a bus, be sure to do the same exact thing, and if they are picked up directly in front of your house tell them to first look at the house while still on the bus, tell them to watch and see if there is a car parked in the driveway or in front they don't recognize, to advise the driver.  Tell them to proceed with caution and be aware of there surroundings.

If possible have the child walk to school in a group filled with other kids, or wait at the bus stop with other kids.

Be sure the child understands to never take a ride from anyone, unless they know the password or were advised by you earlier that day to go with them. 

Avoid groups or individuals loitering about, weather they are up to no good or not is irrelevant, your child does not need to find out. 

Being a good samaritan is great, but not when your alone and young. Tell the child to avoid the classic predator pitfalls, “Can you help me find my puppy,” “Can you help me with my bags,” or even the all to famous “Do you know how to find, and can you show me?’ I don't care if the Child is a cub-scout, a Brownie, or a great Christian, their safety is first, being rude or less giving takes second place.

 

Hanging out

 

Be sure to show your child the neighborhood they live in. Make sure they know which houses may have dogs or questionable people living there. This may sound rude, but reality is any one can find out if their neighbor is a child sex offender, and wouldn't common sense dictate you tell your child to avoid that house? Be sure to let them know which house(s) they are allowed to visit with and under what circumstances they would be allowed there.

No means no, and there is nothing wrong with telling an adult no. If your child feels uncomfortable or scared they have a right to say no, and they have a right to demand the person making them feel that way to stop. They also need to know they should tell you immediately about what happen.

Be sure the child knows to never go anywhere without confirming it with you, or if they are going someplace  different from their original destination.

Advise the child to play in groups. There is safety in numbers.

Tell them to avoid empty buildings, cars, or heavily wooded areas. Explain the temptation to seek out an adventure is not worth the risk. Have them show what they would do if faced with that situation.

Practice different case scenarios, i.e. What would you do if you were being followed, what would you do if some one was trying to get you to go with them.

Demonstrate how they should react in a bad situation, go over this multiple times.

Help them to understand how to find “Safety Zones” wherever they are. 

 

In the end, its like I originally stated there are no guarantees, no magic formulas to prevent a child from becoming a victim. Only the efforts that you the parent or guardian can take to help avoid it. 

I commend the work you do to serve and protect you're family and hope you use this article to help you teach them.  I hope in some small way this article has enlightened you, or at least made you consider having this talk with your child. 

 

Rodrigo Galvanosi is the owner of Fearless Fighting located 2294-B County Home Road, Greenville, North Carolina. Fearless Fighting teaches children self defense under the Fearless Little’s program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Request More Information

Cancel