Parents… Teach Your Children:
- A stranger is a person you do not know. Most strangers are nice, but bad strangers and good strangers look and act the same, so avoid all strangers.
- Their full name, address, and phone number, including area code.
- Your full name, where you work, and phone number.
- Your Secret Password – A word or phrase known only by you and your child.
- Never go anywhere unless you have your parent’s permission and Secret Password. Stress how important it is that they have permission even if they are going with a family member, friend of the family, etc.
- To never to go with anyone who does not give your Secret Password.
- A Police Officer is his/her friend.
- Scream, kick, yell and scream “Fire!” if they are in trouble.
- How to make a long distance call, get the operator, and dial 9-1-1 using a variety of phones.
- Take a friend along when you go to playgrounds, stores, movies, etc.
- Never walk or play alone outside at night.
- Come home before dark.
- If anyone in a car bothers you, turn and run in the opposite direction. It is not easy for a car to change directions suddenly.
- When frightened, run to the nearest person you can find – find a Sheriff’s Deputy or police officer, a person working in a yard, or a neighborhood house or store. While you should always stay away from strangers who approach you, it is okay for you to ask an adult you do not know for help.
- If a stranger tries to follow you on foot or tries to grab you, run away, scream and make lots of noise. The last thing a dangerous stranger wants is a lot of attention.
- Never play in deserted areas such as the woods, a parking lot, an alley, deserted buildings or new construction.
- Always stick to the same safe route in traveling to and from school or a friend’s house.
- Always try to play or walk with friend. It is safer and more fun.
- Never play or hang around in such public areas as restrooms or elevators.
- Teach your children to walk confidently and stay alert to where they are and what is going on around them.
- If something seems wrong or feels wrong, it’s okay to say “NO” to an adult, even an adult they know.
Teach Children How to Respond:
How children respond to trouble will depend upon their age and the particular circumstances they encounter. More importantly however, is whether a child knows what to do and where to go when feeling threatened. How does your child react when approached by someone unfamiliar? Even preschoolers can learn what to do and what not to do when confronted by a stranger.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid scare tactics: It can be upsetting for a child to feel she/he lives in a dangerous world filled with strangers who are out to do her/him harm. It’s far more helpful for her/him to experience the world as basically a safe place. She/he just needs to know and follow a few simple rules.
- Talk about what’s okay: Tell her/him, “When you’re with Mom or Dad and someone you don’t know says hello to you, it’s nice to say hello back to them.”
- Talk about what’s not okay: You can tell your child that most people are nice and friendly and want to help each other. But there are a few bad people who want to harm others. One way you know them is if they ask you to go with them without telling your parents, your teacher, or your babysitter. Make sure your children know that their private parts are off limits to any adult or older child. Let your child know that they can tell you anything and that you will believe them. It is important that your child know that there should be no secrets, especially those involving an adult.
- Discuss strategies: “What can you do when a stranger tries to get you to come with him or her”? What can you say? Can you ask for help? Together, make a list of the ideas you come up with, like testing the stranger with a secret password, running away and yelling “Fire”, asking a nearby grownup to help you, looking for a police officer, or going to the nearest store, etc. Then choose the ones your child is most comfortable with.
- Role-play: Play the part of a stranger who may seem friendly and innocent but really isn’t: “Hi, want to come to my house? I have a big bag of candy for you” “Your mother is in the hospital, and she told me to come and get you and bring you to her.” “I’m a modeling agent and I think you could become a famous model.” By rehearsing the scenario in advance, you will have given your child the means and the confidence to protect himself if he’s ever confronted with the real thing.
Travel to and from School:
It’s estimated that 24 million students nationwide start their school day with a trip on the school bus. Whether they walk, ride the bus or travel by car, teach your kids these few tips to ensure they get to and from school safely.
Tips for School Bus Riders:
- Do not play in the street while waiting for the bus
- Carry all loose belongings in a bag or backpack and never reach under the school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen beneath it.
- Line up facing the bus, not alongside it.
- Move immediately onto the sidewalk and out of traffic after getting off the bus.
- Wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street and walk at least 10 steps away from the front of the bus so the driver can see you.
Tips for Pedestrians:
- Never walk alone – always travel with a buddy. Try and find a friend, or make a new friend in the neighborhood to walk to school or ride the bus with.
- Wear reflective or bright color clothing to increase visibility.
- Respect traffic lights and street signs.
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
- Avoid loose fitting clothing that could get caught in spokes or pedals.
Tips for Car Drivers and Passengers:
- Make sure young children are in safety seats at all times, and that the seats have been properly installed.
- All children under 13 years should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
- Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You may want to limit the number of teen passengers to prevent driver distraction. Do not allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, or talking on a cell phone.
After School Safety:
- If the kids are alone after school for a short time make sure that they follow some basic guidelines:
- They should keep the doors locked.
- They should never tell someone on the phone that there are no adults at home. Teach them to say that you can’t come to the phone right now.
- Post a list of emergency phone numbers near the phone.
- Have them call you at work or on your cell phone as soon as they get home.
- Set up rules on what kind of food they can fix. Younger children should never use the stove without adult supervision.
- Be sure to set up guidelines on whom they can have over (if anyone) and what they are allowed to do.