Protecting Our Children
10 Safety Tips Children Should Know
Would your child know how to escape a dangerous situation? Former FBI agent Clint Van Zandt recommends 10 very important strategies any child can use.
- Do not get into any car unless your parents personally tell you to. Also, stay away from anyone who follows you on foot or in a car. You do not need to—and should not—go near a car to talk to the people inside.
- Grown-ups and other people who need help should not be asking children for help—they should be asking older people. Adults should not be asking you for directions or to look for a "lost puppy," or telling you that your mother or father is in trouble and that they will take you
- Quickly get away from anyone who tries to take you somewhere. Yell or scream, "This person is not my father (or mother)."
- You should use the "buddy system" and never go places alone. Always ask your parents' permission to leave the yard or play area—especially if you're going into someone's home.
- Never, never hitchhike! Do not try to get a ride with people unless your parents have told you it is okay to do so.
- People should not ask you to keep a special secret. If they do, tell your parents or teacher. Also, tell anyone who wants to take your picture, "No," and quickly tell your parents or teacher.
- No one should touch you on the parts of the body covered by your bathing suit, nor should you touch anyone else in those areas. Your body is special and private.
- You can be assertive, and you have the right to say "No" to someone, including adults and even relatives or friends who try to take you somewhere against your will, touch you or who make you feel uncomfortable in any way.
- Many parents use a special code word that only the child knows to convey a message, should someone other than a parent ask a child to accompany them anywhere.
- Practice a special yell. It is low, loud and long. It tells the person trying to hurt the child, "I know what to do! I'm not an easy victim!" It tells everyone within the sound of the child's voice, "I need help!" It gets the child going, it breaks the "spell." A child should not panic and freeze, thereby becoming immobile in an emergency. When you yell, you take a deep breath, thereby getting oxygen and energy to your brain and muscles. Your own yell can give you courage and get your feet moving when you need to
Prevent tragedy from striking your family by being proactive about your children's safety. FBI Agent Van Zandt reveals 10 things parents should know about keeping their kids secure.
- The key is communication. It is important to talk openly with your children about all safety issues, including what to do in a potential abduction situation.
- Knowledge is power. Talk to your children about the rules pertaining to strangers. Let them know that a stranger or predator looks just like any other person and will use several ways to lure
- Learn the common predator lures: pretending to look for a lost pet, asking the child for directions, giving or promising candy and/or money if the child will go to their car, and threatening to hurt family members if the child does not comply.
- Never label clothing, backpacks or other personal items with your child's name. A predator will use this information to try to gain your child's trust.
- Give your children instructions on what to do if they get separated from you in a mall, supermarket or any other public place. Tell them to first find a mother with children, or any woman, and let them know they are lost. Also, they can go to a checkout counter, information desk or to a police officer.
- Make sure your child knows his or her full name, address and phone number, and the phone number where you work or how to contact you. They also need to know how to dial 911, make collect calls and dial the operator on a pay phone.
- Know where your children are at all times, and keep a list of their friends' addresses and phone numbers.
- Remember to update your children's records, including a photo every 6–12 months.
- Practice, practice, practice. Going over this information once with your children is not enough! You must continue to rehearse and "role play" to make the learning permanent so your child can react properly under pressure.
- If your child is missing, try not to panic. First check everywhere in the house, then check with your neighbors and your child's friends. If you still cannot locate them, call the police immediately. Remember: There is no waiting period required to report a missing child to