Traffic hazards are a much greater danger to your children than a kidnapper. All parents teach their kids how to cross the street. It’s no big deal. We give them the rules and help them practice until they show us they know what to do and can be trusted to do it.
Here’s the good news:
We can teach kids what to do if lost or approached by someone questionable in the same way we teach them how to cross the street. You can start with what to do if they are lost. Turn to the “What if” game-a game to teach safety without scaring your child (or yourself).
“What if Game”
-You say to your child : “What if we were out at the store and you looked around and you couldn’t see me? Who would you go to for help?”
-Your child might answer: “A police officer.”
-“That’s right, you could go to a police officer. But if you didn’t see a police officer nearby; Could you go to a cashier?”
-“And if you didn’t see a cashier; Could you go to a mom with kids? Sure you could.”
-“And how could you ask for help? Could you tell the cashier your full name, and then say; Can you help me find my mom?”
-“Okay, so you’ve asked someone for help. Now you need to stay there and wait until I come and get you. Can you do that?”
-“What if someone tried to make you go with them? What could you do then?”
-“That’s right! Tell them no! If they continue; Yell No, you’re not my dad/mom! Can you do that? Let’s practice it together!”
This is the first and most important lesson in abduction prevention. It teaches a child to assess the situation; decide to seek help; find a safe person; how to ask; how not to be lured away, and how to yell “NO!”
-Play “What If” for anything on the Key Safety Practices list or in the Abduction Prevention Guidelines section.
-If your child is reluctant to play “What If” try reversing the roles. “You be the grown-up and I’ll be the kid.” Hearing mom yell, “No, you’re not my dad!” cracks kids up, but kids still learn from it.
-Just be sure not to say “What if” in a scary way. Say: “What if you were walking home and saw someone you felt nervous about?” Don’t say: “What if a black van stopped and a stranger jumped out?”
Three good reasons not to use the word “stranger”:
-Children think “strangers” are dirty and scary looking. But most people who intend to harm children are careful to look nice and act friendly.
-There’s more risk from people a child knows than from strangers.
-If you’ve based your safety plan on warning kids about “strangers”, they’ll be afraid to get help from someone they don’t know even in an emergency.
Remember this: Children define “strangers” differently. For some, when they meet someone once; They are no longer “strangers!”
Finally, practice often. Teach new skills each year as kids get older. Spend at least as much time on personal safety as you do on street crossing safety, and don’t turn kids loose until they’ve mastered the rules.
-Know your name, parent’s names, address, and telephone number (including area code).
-Check first. If any older person offers you something, or invites you somewhere, ask mom or dad first (Or whoever is responsible for you.).
-Hang with a friend. Kids are safer in groups.
– It’s not your fault if someone hurts you or tricks you. Be sure to tell a trusted adult-it’s not tattling.
-If home alone, keep doors and windows locked. Don’t let anyone in, not even a police officer, without checking first with a parent (Or whoever is responsible for you.).
-Kids should yell “No”, run away, and tell if an adult breaks any of these rules.
-Adults don’t need to ask kids for help.
-Adults should not offer anything to a kid.
-Adults should not ask kids to keep secrets.
-No one should touch a kid’s private parts (parts covered by a swimsuit), or ask a kid to touch their own or another’s private parts.
How kids can get help:
-Find a safe adult like a mom with kids or a cashier, ask for help, then stay there and wait, don’t go looking for mom or dad.
-If you feel threatened yell, “NO! You’re not my mom or dad!” Run away and get help.
-Break the rules if you’re in danger. Yell, run, drop your books, and even knock over boxes in the store to get attention.
-It’s okay to call 9-1-1 if you need help right away.
And for parents:
-Say “I love you.”
-Respect kid’s instincts. If they feel weird about something, there’s probably a reason. Help them figure out what to do.
-Check out the Internet Abduction Prevention, Runaway Prevention, and Family Abduction Prevention sections.
-Teaching safety is an ongoing process, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Start now, but expect to return to the topic all the way through the teen years.
The above information was taken from the “Child Safety Kit”, which is published by the Polly Klass Foundation. The foundation can be reached either by telephone, 1-800-587-4357, or online, www.PollyKlass.org. Please refer to the kit for additional safety information.