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    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Top 10 Tips For Your Child's Safety

    Each day presents new challenges for educators and parents to invent creative and loving ways to discuss some of life’s more difficult topics. It is never too early to begin an ongoing conversation with your children about safety. Preschoolers can learn their names, telephone numbers, addresses, and to call in an emergency; and school-aged children can learn more complex safety skills.

    Here are the Top 10 Simple Tips for you :

    • Keep the following records of your children in a safe place: any custody papers, current photographs, their height and weight, their description (including scars and birthmarks), dental records, fingerprints and passports. (Once a passport is issued, it makes it difficult for someone else to obtain another.) Update the photos and information regularly.
    • Know where your children are. Know the names, addresses and phone numbers of your children’s friends, and call to introduce yourself to their parents. Teach children to tell you where they will be and to check in with you when they get there and before they are ready to return home.
    • Create a short list of safe people that you give permission for your children to go with. Tell them to call you before going anywhere with someone not on the list, even if they say it is an emergency. Abductions by non-custodial parents are more common than stranger abductions. If you are divorced and have sole custody of your children, tell them whether their non-custodial parent is on the safe people list. To reduce the chance of potential family abductions, get a clear custody order that specifies visitation rights clearly, and know the non-custodial parent’s social security number, date of birth, current address and employment. 
    • Define a stranger as anyone the child does not know very well. It is important for children to know that people they have seen before (the postman, the ice cream truck driver, etc.) are strangers if they don’t know them well, and that someone can be a stranger even if they look nice or know their name. Tell children not to tell strangers their names or where they live, and don’t put your children’s names on the outside of their belongings.

    • To reduce your children’s fears and increase their ability to deal with dangerous situations, focus on common sense abduction prevention strategies rather than on the things that might happen to them. You can approach children with the issues of abduction the same way we approach them with about fire or earthquake safety. Assure the children that the chances of being kidnapped by a stranger are quite low, and we can teach them some techniques that will keep them safer.
    • It is important to lay the groundwork for dialogue about abuse and kid- napping. Parents and teachers can do this with young children by encouraging them to talk about their feelings. Ask about a child’s day and about the people they encountered. Are they having any problems? Be open to listening. By creating an open dialogue with children – especially about the things that make them scared, embarrassed or sad – you make it easier for them to tell you about potentially dangerous situations they have encountered.
    • Teach children to stay a safe distance (approximately three arm-lengths) away from strangers and strangers’ cars, even if a stranger seems nice. Teach children to run in the direction opposite from the direction the stranger’s car is traveling.
    • Encourage schools to establish callback programs so that if a child does not arrive at school on time, the guardians are notified within thirty minutes of when the child was expected.Teach children that it is important to never say they are alone when a stranger calls, and to either let the answering machine screen calls or say, “Mom/Dad can’t come to the phone now, can I take a message?” Tell them to hang up if someone is making strange noises, saying scary things, or not saying anything.
    • Put your children’s computer in the family room, or where you can keep an eye on the screen. Teach children that it is not safe to give their last name, address, or phone number to a person on the Internet, and that it is never safe to meet Internet friends in person without a parent’s supervision and consent.Children, like adults, learn skills best when they practice them often. 
    • At last Review your safety rules regularly. Test your children’s understanding of the rules with questions like, “What would you do if your bicycle broke and a neighbor offered you a ride home?”
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