By James Shaw, The Resist Attack Foundation
Everyone’s heard of the old adage “Don’t Talk to Strangers!” It’s tried and true. In fact, you probably remember learning it as a child. If you’re now a parent, keep that advice close to heart with your own kids. Of course, it’s a very different world out there for children growing up today. Is “Don’t Talk to Strangers” enough to protect them? Here are some shocking statistics to absorb:
Of all kidnapping cases, only 24% are committed by strangers. 27% are committed by mere acquaintances. And the highest percentage is kidnapping by family members, believe it or not, with a staggering 49%.
The majority of kidnappings are committed not by strangers, but by people your children may already know. It could be an uncle or aunt, a family friend, or someone who works at a store you frequent. It’s a scary thought, but don’t be too scared because our kids can indeed protect themselves, too. Here’s an important list of safety and security tips for your children.
Do not leave with an adult ever, for any reason, without first asking your parents. Set up a code word for your family. If a stranger or acquaintance tries to lure your child closer to his or her car or tells your child that they have been instructed to pick them up from school, your child should know to ask for the code, and if the person doesn’t know the code, to run away and tell and adult.
Speaking of getting help from adults, who should your child trust? Teach them how to seek out trustworthy adults. Even though they shouldn’t talk to strangers if unnecessary, children must know when it’s okay to find an adult for help.
Do not go into a public bathroom alone. Always ask your mom, dad, uncle, aunt, big brother, big sister, or any other adult that you’re with to accompany you.
Walk only on safe routes to school, and do not cut through alleys, vacant lots, or parking lots.
Always ask your parents for approval when someone wants to take your picture, offers you a job, or gives you money or candy. The truth is nothing is free without a consequence. That’s probably the best tip to teach your children.
Call your parents regularly with an updated schedule of where you are. This is among the most critical safety tips that you can teach older children and teens. If they don’t come home when they’re supposed to, and you have no idea where they might be, it’ll make it that much harder to find them.
Besides these behavior tips, how else can your kids keep themselves safe? Consider providing them with a cell phone that only calls a limited range of numbers, such as home and 911. Give them a personal alarm so that they can alert adults if they feel threatened. Make it a priority to educate your children on safety and security. They are our future. It’s our duty as parents to protect them by helping them protect themselves.