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Children are one of our most vulnerable populations, and predators actively seek them as targets.
A staggering 2,000 children are reported missing each day. That’s unfathomable that we can't protect our youngest, least experienced, and most vulnerable population. While these numbers represent kidnappings, runaways and other missing circumstances, the bottom line is that we cannot allow children to be exposed to the dangers of society without teaching and preparing them for what to expect.
Most parents understand that it’s impossible to prevent your child from doing something they really want to do. Instead of implementing overly strict rules and unreasonable boundaries, it’s better to educate them on best practices on how to stay safe. When your children grow up and are no longer in your care, they'll take these important life lessons with them wherever they are.
We should also aim to foster strong, close relationships with our children so they feel loved and protected in this world. When you combine strong, responsible parental figures with positive teachable lessons, the results are children who are more informed about society and less likely to become victim to a predator
1. Know your name, number and address
Name, number, and address are the most basic information every child should know. When your child starts walking and interacting with the world on his own accord, it’s time to memorize the basics. If he gets lost and asks a police officer for help, your child will be able to communicate important information to get him home safely.
2. Know your parents’ or guardians’ names and numbers
The next most basic information every child should know is his parents’ names and numbers. If he is lost and enters a restaurant and knows his parents’ numbers, he can call them directly and immediately before any other parties are involved.
3. Do not eat or drink anything a stranger gives you
Teach your children never to eat or drink something a stranger gives you. Predators can lace foods and drinks with sedatives or poisons that will incapacitate the child and make it easy to abduct them.
4. If you get lost, stay where you are
This point may seem trivial, but it’s so important! When kids get separated from their parents, they tend to freak out and hysterically run around looking for them. This makes the situation worse because their parents will retrace their steps and not find their child anywhere. The lesson for your child is if at any point he realizes that he’s not with his parents, he should stay put because his parents will come back and find him there.
5. Never open the door for strangers
When children are at home, they should never open the door for strangers. A more targeted rule may be to only open the door for his parents. He should also never open the door for neighbors or people he recognizes. Good neighbors will understand if a child doesn’t open the door for them. If he is in doubt of what to do, he should call you.
6. Know your escape or emergency plan
Parents should device escape or emergency plans for their family. They should encompass code words, step by step instructions, emergency numbers, hiding places, and escape routes. Escape and emergency plans don’t need to be complicated. In fact they should be easy to remember and execute, and should be practiced once every few months.
Here is a great resource from the Department of Homeland Security to assist you with making an emergency plan with details and specific points to discuss: https://www.ready.gov/plan
7. Never get into the car of someone you don’t know, even if they are nice
One of the easiest ways a predator abducts a child is getting him into his car. Teach your child to never under any circumstances get into a stranger’s car, even if they are nice or know something about your child. Additionally, never talk to a stranger in a car, even if they are nice. An adult should never need to ask a child for directions.
8. Use speed and noise if in trouble
If someone is chasing your child, teach him to run and yell. Run as fast as he can towards other adults and yell “This person is not my father”. Most children may become frozen with fear in a dangerous situation, so it’s important to practice running and yelling with them.
9. Velcro Technique
If someone is trying to abduct your child, teach them the Velcro Technique which is to grab and hold on to something. This can be anything like a tree, a bike, chair, pole, or ideally another person or adult. An abductor may be able to pull your child into a car, but it will be difficult to drag your child and a chair into a car, or at least more difficult without drawing attention to it.
10. Never walk alone
Tell your child to never walk anywhere alone. Always use the buddy system and have a friend with you whether you’re playing in the yard, or at school.
Teach your child that he will never be in trouble for telling you the truth, no matter what it is. Honesty should be an important value you share with your child so he feels comfortable disclosing things that may have happened to him. If they are a victim or something has happened to him, tell your child it’s never his fault and it’s always best to tell you what happened.
12. Always ask permission to go somewhere or leave somewhere
Even if he wants to use the bathroom at a birthday party, he must ask permission before going.
13. Create circle of trusted adults for your child
This might include your parents (his grandparents) and your brother and sister (his uncle and aunt). These are people in his life that he can trust if you’re not present.
14. Technology safety
Children as young as 2 are getting tablets for educational programs and entertainment media. The average age for kids to get cell phones nowadays is 10. All of this technology hits closer to home than you might think. The internet world is digital, but it’s easy to get real life information like someone’s address or number from the internet. We recommend installing software or apps on your child’s phone that allow you to track his location and allows you to filter or view things occurring on his phone. We also recommend you telling your child that you’re installing this software or apps on his phone to promote honesty, transparency, and trust.
15. Children Self Defense Classes
Self defense classes are a great way for children to get physical exercise, learn discipline and technique, meet new friends, and prepare to defend themselves. Children will always be physically inferior to an adult, and martial art classes focus almost entirely on this concept: someone smaller can defeat or protect themselves against someone larger.
16. Children Self Defense Products
Arming a child with a self defense product is not a new or dangerous concept. Responsible possession of a self defense weapon is one of the best ways for a teenager to protect himself. This will be left to the discretion of his parents and the local laws to determine if you want to buy your child a pepper spray or self defense product.
Child Safety Moving Forward
As our world evolves, so do the risks and dangers it presents to us. The future of our society is bright with compassionate children who are fearless and curious about how to make the world a better place. Until they reach the point where they can independently fend for themselves, it’s our job as adults to protect them. Not just our own children, but all children in society. If you ever see a child that may be in danger, don’t hesitate to help. It’s your job as a responsible adult to step in where necessary regardless of the repercussions you may face. If we all did this, the world would be a much safer place.