The innocence of a child is precious! However, in the world we live in today, teaching your child safety habits that can save his or her life require a delicate balance. Some of the following tips may skirt delicateness, but they are important if your child is to avoid being taken advantage of by nefarious criminals. So, let’s dive in!
In the world of smartphones, we have a double-edged sword. For many homes, gone are the days of a common house phone; many use a smartphone as the home phone. Where the problem exists today is that many parents give a child a phone too early or let them use their phone as a babysitter.
With texting and social apps like WhatsApp, Snap Chat and others, it’s easy to find a phone number. Simply tell the app to call the recipient, since the connection is not a name but the number of the device itself and the they have your or your child’s number.
Whichever is the case in your home, remind your child to NEVER say he or she is home alone. Always say Mom and Dad can’t come to the phone right now, take a message and say they will call back shortly.
If adults think people are inherently good, a child believes no one is bad. Children are amazing because they don’t have a malicious bone in their body. They learn from the world around them to be scared, not trust and be prejudiced. If someone comes to the door (especially if they look like they have authority: mailman, police officer, electric or cable company, etc.), they feel safe and will WANT to be helpful.
Make sure they understand that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are they to open the door for anyone who is not family. Moreover, don’t even acknowledge they are home alone. Let the doorbell ring and when the person(s) have left, call you and let you know immediately. If Mom or Dad are home but in the shower, do the same and then let Mom or Dad know when they come out of the bathroom.
Make sure to reward the behavior! This will make them want to do it more often and solidify good habits.
This one is straight forward. Most abuse of a child is done by someone known or close to the family. Often, it’s a family member. While we don’t want a child to fear Uncle Bob or Aunt Petunia, it’s important you know where they are at all times in the event something does happen.
While this is a DUH tip, make sure you express that permission doesn’t come from anyone else but you! You’d be surprised how a savvy abductor will answer, “I was taught to never get into someone’s car without permission…” with, “Well, it’s my car and I give you permission.” To an innocent child this makes sense.
Another DUH tip, but a child is, well, a child. Offer him or her candy long enough and they will break down and take it. Unless they are hearing your voice in their little heads saying, “NO!”
Many deserted buildings or isolated areas have homeless people living there. Now, please do NOT think I am saying that because a person is homeless means he or she is bad. But some may be! Moreover, you don’t have to be homeless to see a child in a well-hidden place to take advantage of the situation. So, never play in abandoned buildings or isolated areas.
In the event someone is bold enough to try for a grab, they must SCREAM at the top of their lungs! Teach them to yell specifically, “THAT’S NOT MY MOM or DAD!” Attached a whistle to their coat or jacket and teach them to blow constantly. Throw whatever they may have (e.g. books, toys, etc.) around to cause a ruckus. Noise and attraction are a criminal’s worst enemy. They will flee lest they be seen.
Stay tuned for next week when we will provide the last seven tips. Since a child learns in bite-sized increments, take this week to share these initial tips, so next week you can quiz them before teaching them the final seven.