By Sheila Frye,
There are only a few things more frightening as a parent than to find your kids missing. Anyone’s state of mind would go from alarmed, to panic, to frantic in a very short period of time. But fortunately, it’s not as bad as the fear mongering multimedia makes it out to be.
As noted by the Polly Klaas Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the safety of children, 99.8 percent of children who go missing do come home, with 90 percent of them getting lost due to misunderstanding directions, miscommunicating their plans, or running away.
Nine percent of child abductions are done by a family member due to a custody dispute, while the more terrifying scenarios of abduction by non-family members are the least likely at three percent, according to the foundation.
But while the odds may be in your favor, you can’t be too careful when it comes to the safety of your precious child. Below are seven tips to keeping your child safe.
- Don’t Let Your Children Go Places Alone
This seems obvious enough. As much as possible, always supervise your kids if they need to be somewhere. If you can’t personally be with them, make sure you have a trusted adult looking over your kids. And when they reach a certain age when they have personal matters to attend to, make sure they have a friend going with them.
This is important on multiple fronts. If your children must go somewhere without you, be sure to teach them to notify you where they will be ahead of time. This would take away the searing panic that comes with not knowing where your child is.
You should also talk openly about safety, and encourage them to speak up if anything frightens them. The most simple tips like running away and shouting for help when they sense danger could go a long way toward preventing perilous instances.
Lay Down Rules
Following up on the previous tip, it is important for your child to know the basics of keeping safe. Make them understand a few basic rules like not walking away with a stranger, being suspicious of adults asking for help (an adult should never need help from a child), under no circumstance should they get in a vehicle with a stranger, and to always be aware of their surroundings.
These fundamental rules may seem elementary to adults, but they are crucial things that need to be taught to children.
Teach Them to Contact You
Again, this is very basic. The generations of today start to use technology at a young age, so as soon as they can, make them memorize your contact number or those of family members, and teach them to contact you should anything concern them.
Teach Them That Rules Change When There is Danger
This could be a bit tricky, but it is something that would help prevent dangerous situations if the message is communicated properly. Children are taught to behave themselves all the time, and as such, it becomes part of their nature.
Teach them that when they feel threatened, or when they sense trouble, that rules change and they can act out and call for attention. Role-playing certain scenarios would make them understand which situations could be deemed dangerous.
Observe Your Child’s Surroundings
Earlier, there was mention of teaching your children to be aware of their surroundings. The same applies to you. Make regular visits to the school and observe the surroundings, as well as the places and people along the way.
Non-family abductors are commonly those that see their victims on a regular basis, sometimes even coming into close contact with them regularly. Observing places and people surrounding your child is a vital ounce of prevention.
Social Media Safety
It’s really tempting to post all those cute photos of your child online, which is truly understandable, but parents need to be more conscious of what they post. Just as all facets of life has gone digital, so have those with bad intentions.
Parents should be mindful of checking-in to places online. Posting something like, “Dropping off the little one at school,” while giving the precise location may seem like an innocuous everyday post, but that’s giving away vital information that could be dangerous if taken advantage of by the wrong people.
Just as you teach your child not to interact too much with strangers, parents should also stop adding strangers on social media.
As fore mentioned, there’s a certain extent of paranoia that comes with being a parent, but the numbers suggest that it’s not as bad of a world as you might think. That being said, parents would still be better served to cover the bases that they can, and the above are just a few tips on how to do so.
Got your own tips to keep children safe? Sound off in the comments.