Talk With Your Child About Safety

Importance of Discussion

The FBI estimates that at least 2300 children are reported missing every day. Parents need to begin educating their children about safety issues at around 3-4 years old.

Approach the subject of safety in a non-threatening way. It is important that you don't make your child fearful of dangerous situations or people, but cautious and able to recognize when something just isn't right.

Characteristics of a Successful Discussion

To ensure a successful discussion on safety you can:
  • Encourage children to trust their instincts, and to talk to you when something is bothering them. Open communication is most important. Really listen to your child.
  • Explain to your child the rules pertaining to strangers. A stranger looks just like any other person, not like a monster or creature. A stranger is simply someone that your child does not know. Strangers will use different ways to lure a child such as:
    • Asking for directions
    • Offering candy or money to make the child go to their car
    • Pretending to look for a lost dog or other pet
    • Telling them that their parents sent them or that a family member will be hurt if he or she doesn't comply
  • Let your child know that adults do not ask children for help nor do they threaten them.
  • Tell your child that if faced with a situation they can loudly scream "NO" and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction and find a trusted adult. Never get into an unknown car with an adult they do not know.
  • Come up with a "code" word that only trusted adults and the child know. Instruct your child that if someone approaches them to take them somewhere or pick up from school etc., ask for the code word and if they don't know it run away. Periodically change the word.
  • Give instructions on what to do if separated at the mall, supermarket or other public place. Tell them to go to a checkout counter, information desk, or security guard and let them know they are lost. Make sure they know their full name, address, phone Number and parent's name. Instruct on the proper use of 911.

Parent Responsibilities

You can help keep your child safe with the following tips:
  • Never label a child's clothing, backpack or other personal belongings with their name. A stranger could use this info to gain a child's trust.
  • Try to know where your child is at all times, and keep a list of their friends address and phone number.
  • Keep an up to date record of personal and medical information on hand in case of emergency. Make sure they are fingerprinted and current picture.
  • If your child is missing try not to panic. Check everywhere in the house, then check neighbor's house and child's friends. If you still cannot locate, immediately call the police. Provide a detailed description of clothing and where they were last seen.