How Much Do You Really Know About Teaching Your Child Safety?
By Chris McElroy and Jennifer Tarzian
There has been a huge amount of news recently involving child abductions, parental abductions, and child abuse. From Natalie Holloway in Aruba to Jessica Lundsford in Florida, parents have heard about children who have been kidnapped and murdered. Then there were the stories of parents who keep their children in cages or made them drink bleach to cleanse them of evil spirits.
This is very scary stuff. The fact that we live in a world where people will hurt children, where even some parents have hurt their own children. We see profiled pictures of child sexual predators online, in the newspaper, and on television almost every week now it seems.
What is a young parent, or any parent for that matter, who cares about their child's welfare and safety to do? Obviously I can't lock my child up somewhere just to keep them safe. Obviously I can't watch them and be with them 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. What kind of life would that be for me or for my child.
Obviously I do not want my child to grow up being scared of every stranger she or he meets. It's not fair to my child to have to learn about avoiding child sex predators. It's not fair to me to have to learn about something I would rather not ever have to think about.
At Jennifer's website, http://www.youngparentsmagazine.com and at my website http://www.kidsearchnetwork.org these are statements and questions we hear all the time from young parents. We may not feel comfortable learning about or discussing these topics, but, unfortunately, it is necessary.
Here are some tips you need to know to teach your child about safety;
1. Keep a Kidsearch Network Child ID Kit in a safe place that is accessible 24/7 and update the photographs and other information every 6 months. If you do not have a kit for each of your children, go to http://kidsearchnetwork.org/free-child-fingerprint-id-kits.html and make one.
2. Make sure your child always checks with you before going anywhere with anyone.
3. Know your neighbors and other adults that have access to your children. Every state allows the public to check the criminal backgrounds of those who have access to your children. Go to http://kidsearchnetwork.org/child-sex-offender-predator-molester.html, then Click on the State you live in to do a Sex Offender Search
4. Know your neighborhood. Show your children the safest places to play and areas to avoid; like alleys and dark stairwells.
5. Do not advertise your child's name on clothing, school supplies or backpacks.
6. Get a cell phone or pager for your teenager. (This one causes me a lot of problems. Teenagers use this to get their parents to get them a cell phone!) This way you can be in contact with them at all times.
7. Make sure your child knows to scream and run if approached in an alarming way by anyone. Your child should be taught to ALWAYS tell you immediately if he or she is approached by a stranger who asks for help, offers candy/gifts, or frightens him/her in anyway. Your child should know to make you aware of anytime he or she feels uncomfortable with ANYONE.
8. If you have an Internet ready computer in the home, put it in a common area and consider using monitoring software like PC Tattle Tale. http://www.pctattletale.com/cmd.php?af=323441 This way you can monitor your children's Internet activities.
9. Seek alternatives to leaving your children alone at home, in the car or outside. If your child is a latch-key kid, make sure that he or she knows to keep all doors and windows locked, never let anyone know that he or she is alone, and never let anyone in the house, not even someone claiming to be a police officer or from the fire department. Those kinds of professionals know to forcibly enter in case of an emergency.
10. Teach your children how to use a pay phone without money and how to call 911. Make sure your child learns his or her address and phone number at an early age. A second phone number of a friend or relative is also helpful. Teach your child how to make a collect phone call, and to begin with 'Operator...I'm in trouble; I need your help.
11. Do not leave a child unattended while shopping, visiting with neighbors or friends, or running errands. Under no circumstances should you leave a child alone in a car or truck. Amusement parks and other large, bustling venues aimed at entertaining children can attract predators.
12. If you maintain firearms in your home, use approved trigger locks and keep them safely locked up.
13. When your child comes to you with a problem or about someone making them feel uncomfortable, make sure that you listen and do not blame them.
14. If your child receives pornography on the Internet, (Many people who never surf porn still receive it in email), do not immediately blame your child. Discuss it with them and explain why it's not allowed and how to immediately delete it. Report the sender to their ISP. Call The Kidsearch Network if you do not know how and we will do it for you.
To periodically test your child to see how much they are learning about safety, go here. http://kidsearchnetwork.org/child-safety-test.html
Is the Internet a treasure chest of educational opportunities for kids? Or is it a place filled with all sorts of dangers?
The reality, of course, is that it is both. The online world can pose a threat to youngsters, ranging from exposure to sexually explicit material, to stalking, to physical molestation. Disturbing as well is the proliferation of child pornography.
About The Author
Chris McElroy and Jennifer Tarzian