Important Tips On
HOW TO PROTECT KIDS FROM CRIME AND VIOLENCE
WOULD YOUR CHILD KNOW WHAT TO DO IF
· He or she got lost at a shopping mall?
· A nice-looking, friendly stranger offered him or her a ride home from school?
· A friend dared him or her to drink some beer or smoke a joint?
· The baby-sitter or neighbor wanted to play a secret game?
A great thing about kids is their natural trust in people, especially in adults. It's sometimes hard for parents to teach children to balance this trust with caution. But kids today need to know common-sense rules that can keep them safe - and build the self-confidence they need to handle emergencies.
START WITH THE BASICS
· Make sure your children know their full name, address (city and state) and their telephone number with area code.
· Be sure kids know to call "911" in emergencies and how to use a public telephone. Practice making emergency calls using a make-believe telephone.
· Tell your children never to accept rides or gifts from someone they and you do not know well.
· Teach children to go to a store clerk, security guard or police officer for help if lost in a mall, store or on the street.
· Set a good example with your own actions: lock doors, windows, and check to see who is there before opening the door.
· Take time to listen carefully to your children's fears and feelings about people and places - especially ones that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust instincts when something frightens or troubles them.
AT SCHOOL AND PLAY
· Encourage your children to walk and play with friends, not alone.
· Teach children to settle arguments with words, not fists, and to walk away when others are arguing.
· Make sure your children are taking the safest routes to and from school, stores and friends' houses. Walk the routes together and point out places they could go for help.
· Encourage kids to be alert in the neighborhood and to tell a trusted adult - you, a teacher, a neighbor, a police officer - about anything that does not seem quite right.
· Check out the school's policies on absent children - are parents called when a child is absent?
· Check out daycare and after-school programs, look for certifications, staff qualifications, rules on parental permission for field trips, reputation in the community, policies on parent participation. Drop by for a visit at random.
AT HOME ALONE
· Leave a telephone number where you can be reached. Post it by the phone, along with numbers for a neighbor and for emergency situations - police, fire, paramedics and the poison control center.
· Have your child check in with you or a neighbor when he or she gets home. Agree on rules for having friends over and for going to a friend's house when no adult is home.
· Make sure your child knows how to use the window and door locks.
· Tell your child not to let anyone into the home without your permission and to never let a caller - at the door or on the phone - know that there are no adults home. Kids can always say that their parents are busy and take a message.
Work out an escape plan in case of fire or other emergencies. Rehearse the plan with your children.
PROTECTING YOUR CHILD AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE
· Let your child know that he or she can tell you anything and that you will always be supportive.
· Teach your child that no one - not even a teacher or a close relative - has the right to touch him or her in a way that feels uncomfortable. Let them know that it's okay to say "NO", "GET AWAY" and tell a trusted adult what happened.
· Don't force kids to kiss or hug or sit on a grown-up's lap if they don't want to. This gives them control and teaches them that they always have the right to refuse.
· Tell your child to stay away from strangers who hang around playgrounds, public restrooms and schools.
· Be alert for changes in your child's behavior that could signal sexual abuse: sudden secretiveness; withdrawal from activities; refusal to go to school: unexplained hostility toward a favorite babysitter; increased anxiety.
Some physical signs of abuse include bedwetting, loss of appetite, venereal disease, nightmares and complaint of irritation around the genitals.
· If your child has been sexually abused, report it to the police or a child-protection agency immediately.
If your child is a victim of any crime, from stolen lunch money to sexual abuse, never blame him or her. Listen and offer sympathy and support.
PARENTS TAKE A STAND
· Work with schools and recreation centers to offer study time, activities, tutoring and recreation before and after school.
· Start a school callback program. When a student - elementary, middle or high school age - doesn't arrive as scheduled, volunteers at the school call the parents to make sure the absence is excused.
· Volunteer to help with a block parent program. If you can't offer your home as a safe haven for children in emergencies, you can help in other ways - telephoning, fund raising or public relations.
(info by: National Crime Prevention Council)