In this child safety article, we‘ll give you the tools to educate your children to keep them safe when walking home from school.
Whether you are the parent, grandparent, or guardian of a young child, take a moment and imagine the following scenario:
In 30 seconds the doorbell will ring. When you open the door, you will be greeted by two uniformed officers. They inform you that they received a 911 call from your neighbor one block over. After school today, your child was seen talking to someone in a mini-van, began to look distressed and then got into the van which immediately sped away.
Based on the evidence they have, they believe that your child has just been abducted…
What thoughts are going through your mind right now?
Is this situation something that you’ve talked about with your child?
Did you work out a plan of action with them for situations like this?
If you answered “no” to either of the last two questions, what would you give at this moment to be able to jump into a time machine to go back and make sure your child had a plan of action?
It’s easy to dismiss this scenario by saying “the odds are that this won’t happen to my child” or “we live in a safe neighborhood”, however, in 2014 there were 466,949 entries for missing children according to the FBI National Crime Information Center – a terribly alarming statistic.
A surprising trend in abductions: 73% involved the suspect driving a vehicle.
Common lures include:
- Offering children candy or money
- Asking the child questions to initiate contact
- Using an animal to lure the child away
What Can You Do TODAY?
Awareness is one of the keys to help your child remain safe when confronted by a predator. You have an opportunity RIGHT NOW to build that plan of action with your child.
Please take a few minutes to discuss the following points and make sure they understand how to become more aware of potential threats and what to do when they identify them:
- NEVER get in a car with someone you don’t know. Your parents will not send a stranger to get you. Establish a code word with your family so they know it’s safe to go with a family member or a friend.
- Stay away from any car or person who may ask you a question. Ignore them and move as quickly as you can from the person. Adults do not ask children for help; this is a warning sign that something is wrong with the interaction.
- A dangerous person may be male or female. Do not judge them by appearance even if they seem nice or are attractive.
- Kick, scream, and draw as much attention as you can if someone grabs you.
- Learn to say “NO” firmly. It is one of the most important words you will ever learn when it comes to your safety.
- Walk to and from school with other children that live nearby. There is safety in numbers.
- Make sure a house key remains hidden at all times since this alerts others that you may be home alone.
- Never wear clothes, backpacks, bags or accessories displaying your name.
- Point out safe houses along the school route like fire stations or a trusted neighbor’s home. Know where to run in case the situation calls for it.
- Always pay attention to your surroundings when you are walking and put your phone away so it won’t distract you.
- Have strict procedures on such things as going to and from school and where to go after a dance or sporting event. Text a parent/guardian as you leave one location and arrive at the next location.
- Trust your instincts; if it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.
There is a chance that your child may be approached by a stranger when they are out in public. Does your child have the correct mindset of what to do and what not to do?
This life saving education is a must for all parents raising children in an increasingly violent society.
You have the opportunity to educate and prepare them NOW before tragedy strikes. Help give them a plan of action and reduce the statistics of missing children.
We would love to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions using the comments section below. If you have ideas for other videos that you would like to see in any of our series, please let us know! You can also email comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Great Child Safety Resources
Go to www.missingkids.com/home for more information and phone numbers to call for extra help should your child ever go missing. You should call 911 immediately the moment you suspect an abduction has taken place.
Regardless of age, gender, or time of day, being aware of your surroundings is critical at all times. Check out this other video in our Situational Awareness for Teens Series.