We are all concerned with the wellbeing and safety of our children. As parents we want to always be there to protect them. The reality is that we cannot always be there. Therefore, it is very important to help children make good decisions when they are on their own.
Here are some general safety tips for parents to help their children stay safe:
- Instruct your child on how to contact the Police Department, Fire Department or Ambulance by dialing 911 and how to contact a known family member or responsible trustworthy neighbor or adult should an emergency arise.
- Check your child's route to and from school. Call attention to any dangerous spots such as vacant lots, alleyways, etc. Advise them what to do if a strange person follows or approaches them.
- Instruct your child's school to notify you immediately if your child is absent. Inform the principal who is authorized to pick your child up from school. Try to have the same person pick your child up every day when possible.
- Instruct your child to never take a ride from any strangers even if the person says that they are there to pick them up because their mom or dad sent them.
- Choose a secret code word to use with your child in case of an emergency. Tell your child never to go with anyone who does not know this code word.
- Advise your child what to do if they feel lost. Help them to identify the safest place to go or person to ask for help in reuniting them with you or other caregiver. Examples of safe helpers could be a uniformed law-enforcement or security officer, store salesperson with a nametag, person with a nametag who is working at the information booth.
- Teach your child to tell you if anyone asks them to keep a secret, offer them gifts or money, or asks to take their picture.
- Teach your child to always tell you if something happened while they were away from you that made them feel uncomfortable in anyway.
Especially for Younger Children:
- Teach children their parent's names, phone number, including area code and your full address.
- Teach your child how to use the telephone to make emergency, local and long distance calls and how to reach the operator.
- Never allow your child to use a public restroom unattended.
- Don't "personalize" your child's clothing or accessories with his/her name. Children may respond to a stranger who calls them by name.
- Teach your child that a stranger is someone that neither you nor they know well.
Especially for Teens:
- As you always want to know where your child is, let your child know where you are or will be.
- Talk to your child. Listen to your child. Find out what they're thinking, and what they're feeling. Every day, know whom they hang out with, what they do, and where they're going. Not only will it help you influence and keep track of your child, but you also can get to know each other better.
- Discuss the effects of alcohol and other drug use and why they are especially bad for young people. The more your child knows, the better informed their decisions will be about drug use.
- Advise your child what to do if there is drinking or drug use occurring at a party and make it easy for your teenager to leave - always have a back-up driver your teen can call for a ride home.
- Insist that your teen NEVER accept a ride with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs.
- Insist that your teen NEVER tolerate party activities that include vandalism, theft, sexual intimidation, assault or other illegal activity in addition to drinking or drug use. Encourage your teen to call 9-1-1 if necessary.