In a perfect world, you would never have to discuss abduction with your children. However, the world that we live in today is far from perfect.
You could choose to ignore this issue and simply hope it never happens. You could also choose to never let your children out of your site. Unfortunately, neither of these strategies is feasible.
Today, we must figure out how to equip our children with the skills that will build their self-confidence in dealing with dangerous, unplanned situations. It is important to teach your children that most adults they will encounter during their lifetime are basically good people. The last thing you want is for your child to live in constant fear, and be untrusting of most everyone.
Unfortunately, the world is full of a few scary people, so it is imperative that parents, educators, and caregivers make child safety a part of their everyday life by practicing and reviewing basic safety skills. The key to discussing safety skills with children is to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Avoid telling children what might happen to them. Instead, tell them what they can do to keep it from happening. Here are a few tips (compliments of Child Watch of North America.)
• Know your name, address, and phone number(s).
• Learn how and when to call 911.
• If you are scared of someone, RUN to safety.
• It’s OK to be RUDE to a grown-up if you feel you are unsafe.
• Learn the difference between an “OK” secret and a “NOT OK” secret and beware of an adult that asks you to keep a secret from your parents.
• Have a “Call List” and know how and when to use it.
• Don’t let anyone on the phone or at the door know that you are home alone.
• If you ever get lost in a mall, ask the closest store clerk for help and then stay where you are until you are found.
• Avoid shortcuts when you are walking from one place to another.
• If you are ever “scooped,” scream, kick, bite and FIGHT as hard as you can to get away! NEVER trust what the “scooper” tells you.
• Tell your parents or a trusted adult if someone is asking you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Listen to your “Uh Oh” voice.
• Always ask your parents for permission before getting on the Internet.
• Never talk to people online without your parent’s permission.
• Review and practice these rules often.
• Work hard to establish trust and communication with your children from day one!
• Don’t ever leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not.
• Make sure you know how to find or contact your children at all times.
• Take an active role in your children’s activities.
• As tired as you may be, take the time to listen intently to your children when they tell you they had a bad dream. There could be a reason. Trust your instincts.
• Talk to your children about inappropriate incidences you hear on the news and get their perspective.
• Question and monitor anyone who takes an unusual interest in your children.
• Teach your children that they can be rude to an adult if they feel threatened in any way. They need to hear it from your directly because this message often contradicts everything they have heard before.
• Teach our children the difference between and “OK” secret and a “NOT OK” secret. Assure your child that you would never want him/her to feel like they had to keep a “NOT OK” secret from you.
• Have your children practice their most annoying scream. They may need to use it someday.
• Check websites for registered offenders in your neighborhood. Talk to your children about why these people should be avoided.
• Keep your family computer in a central location that is easily monitored.
• Avoid letting your children have internet access in unsupervised areas (i.e. computers in their bedrooms, etc.)
• Practice and reinforce these safety tips at all times. Role-play and rehearse “what if” scenarios.
Julia Cook is a national award winning children’s author and parenting expert. She has presented in over 700 schools across the country, regularly delivers keynote addresses at national education and counseling conferences, and has 34 published children’s books. The goal behind all of Julia’s books and efforts is to actively involve young people into her fun and creative stories and teach them to become life-long problem solvers. Inspirations for her books come from working with children and carefully listening to parents and teachers.
For more information on this topic, check out "Smarter Than the SCOOPERS!"