Be Alert and Vigilant - How to Protect Your Children From Offenders

Keeping your children safe from people who may want to hurt them can seem like a full time task for a parent. There are some things we parents can do to try to do our best to protect them. Here are some of them from a reader.

As frightening and unpleasant as it may sound for parents to even think about the likelihood of their child being abducted. Parents must have a discussion with their children about personal safety.

Educating your kids about how to protect themselves against child predators is crucial as any other measure you take daily to keep them protected.

By teaching your kids how to stay away from possible dangers and how they should react if they find themselves in a threatening circumstance, will empower them to be aware of what they should do to protect themselves and keep themselves from harm.

Important tips to remember

Educate your kids about the power of saying no

Child predators know how to seek out children who could be scared or reluctant to resist an adult, or kids who can be coerced or easily threatened.

Teach your kids to trust their instincts and if they don’t feel okay or comfortable around a particular person, tell them to tell that person NO! Very loudly. And if that person tells them to keep quiet or tries to lure them to go somewhere without you, teach your child to let you know right away.

Don’t highlight “stranger danger”

For kids, in particular younger ones, the concept of what constitutes a stranger can confuse them. They may envision a person who looks very scary and cruel. To play your role to end child trafficking pay attention to what child safety experts say.

Research has shown that children will likely follow a person that appears friendly and persuasive. For instance, they could ask the child to help them look for a lost puppy.

In addition, by focusing your teaching on stranger danger only, you are implicitly telling your little ones to trust the waiter at a restaurant or a neighbor. Instead of telling your kid not to talk to strangers at all, may stop them from crying out for help to a stranger if they are lost.

Rather teach them to look for a female walking with a child ask them to call the police or their parents. Other alternatives could be telling your kid to go to a salesperson who has a name tag, a person at an information desk, or a uniformed law enforcement officer.

Tell them about their boundaries

Teach your child never to allow anyone to invade their personal space. Whether at home or in a public space, highlight to your child never to allow anyone to get too close to them without you there or a caregiver present.

Classify trusted adults

Make a list of “safe” adults your little one can trust. This can be a specified babysitter, neighbor, grandparent, or uncle. These can be people designated to pick up your child from school or look after them when you are not around. Inform them to never leave with anyone else unless you tell them prior or change “the list”. Always ensure they know precisely who will be picking them up from school.

Explain in detail what they must never do

Teach your child to never get into a car or go to a place without a caregiver or parent. Tell your child that if a person they know but that person is not designated as a trusted adult or if a person they haven’t met before tries to force them or convince them to go somewhere, then they must shout as loudly as possible for help. Mention to them that they must also run and if the person grabs them they must hit, kick and punch with much force as possible.

Don’t make your little one fearful

Something as simple as watching the evening news can make adults and especially children feel as though there’s danger in all corners. Fearing all situations can be counter-productive. This is because it can make a child so fearful of everything so much so that they can be manipulated with threats easily because they are vulnerable.

Rather empower your child with strength, confidence, and the tools they need to avoid and control potential danger.

Instead of focusing on all the dangers your child could face, educate your little ones by talking to them about the best ways to identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations. And give them strategies on how they can handle these scenarios.

Access resources they can use

View videos like “The Safe Side—Stranger Safety: Hot Tips to Keep Cool Kids Safe With People They Don't Know and Kinda Know”. Watch these with your little one. In addition, the safe side website also has resources created for children like puzzles, safety tips, and quizzes.

Reiterate the messages below

As you would fire drills, practice the safety tips you have taught them. Do this periodically with your child. Do this particularly when it's almost time to get back to school or at the start of summer when your children will certainly be outside more - something offenders know very well.

When you are in a crowded place outside, like a park or mall, give your child a dry run, ask them how they would react if they became separated from you. From the people around you, which of them would they go to for help? Single out some of the persons that they could ask for assistance. Ask them if they know your cell number by heart.

Tell your child what they would need to do

Don’t assume your child will know how to react. Security consultant Gavin de Becker in his book "Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane),” talks about a well-known session that aired on The Oprah Winfrey show in 1993.

In this show, child safety advocate Ken Wooden together with the producers of the show carried an experiment after getting permission from the caregivers. In the “experiment scene” they were able to lure away all participating children out of the playground during the test. They did this in about 35 seconds on average.

Before the experiment, the caregivers were certain that their little ones would never leave the park with a stranger or talk to a stranger. In essence, they were wrong to make this assumption.

For many parents, thinking about this can evoke anxiety. The thought of even talking about it with your children can be traumatic on its own. But having these talks at the offset and during significant times in your child's life can be very important. If you are empowered and can develop a safe surrounding to discuss these topics you can certainly protect your kids from a danger that can be avoided.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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