Nobody wants to have to face the possibility of their child facing an unsafe situation. However, it is always better to equip your child with preventative strategies and effective responses and solutions in the event of an emergency.
Here are ten ways a mom can teach their child to stay safe and alert while responding appropriately in the event of an unsafe adult approaching them.
10 Teach them about unsafe areas
Dangerous adults and people tend to use unsafe areas as a launchpad for their unscrupulous behavior, and for this reason, it is imperative to teach a child which areas are off-limits. This means they should never pass through these areas or should remain alert when walking or cycling through them with peers.
Vacant parking lots and isolated park areas or paths should be avoided, as should any 'off the beaten tracks' routes on the way to or from school or extra-mural activities. Remote or secluded areas are off-limits.
9 Teach them there is power in numbers
Children should be told never to walk alone to or from school, or to or from the shopping mall or extra-mural premises. If your child is going somewhere alone, instead arrange to fetch them yourself.
If your neighborhood is relatively safe and you allow your child to walk or cycle to school, always make sure that they do so with a group of friends. Also, don't let them walk through shopping malls alone but ensure that there is always a friend with them when they are in a public place.
8 Teach them not to open the door for strangers
This is a basic rule but one which con-artists try to get around by pretending to be someone they are not to get a child to open up for them. Teach your child that under no circumstances should they open the door for any stranger, even someone who suggests they are in a position of authority.
A genuine police officer or council official will understand the child's refusal to open for them. Also, most authorities carry badges of identification in dire circumstances and will be able to show these to your child. The child should ask for an ID to be shown, without opening the door, and should then call to alert you that there is an official at the door. Under no circumstances should they open the door.
7 Teach them emergency numbers
Smaller children should be taught to memorize your number and an emergency number in case they get separated from you. This might be difficult for a smaller child to learn; however, it is possible to teach them.
They should also know their surname and home address. It is also advisable to keep your details on a tag inside their bag, which will help authorities track you should your child be separated from you.
6 Teach them to 'yell'
Kids should know the protocol should anyone try to pick them up and carry them away. They should be taught to yell, if there are people around - specifically, 'This is not my mom!', or 'This is not my dad!'.
If they are merely yelling, people might believe they are just misbehaving, and mom or dad is dealing with them and carrying them to the car to give them a talking to. No-one wants to think this way, however, making a child aware of unsafe behavior and protocol in the event of an emergency, could potentially save them.
5 Teach them what is not normal
Children tend to be naive and assume that all 'nice' behavior from an adult comes from a kind heart. Teach children to identify suspicious behavior. Some suspicious behavior includes a stranger offering to buy or give them something, an adult following them, or a stranger saying that you are sick and have sent them to pick the child up.
The more you rehearse this list of suspicious behaviors with your child, the more they are likely to pick these scenarios up as suspicious should they occur.
4 The 'secret code'
Should you find yourself in a situation which warrants you having to send someone to fetch your child from school, you should teach your child a secret code which that person then has to give your child before your child co-operates with them in any way.
This could be a word or a number or a safety question (with an answer), which is only known to you and your child. This will signal that it is, in fact, you who has sent the person.
3 Keep communication channels open
Allowing your child to be open with you, and to tell you about their day, without criticism and judgment, and through showing genuine interest in what they have to say, will establish a foundation for future safety and success.
If someone is acting strangely towards them or if they have noticed strange behavior from an adult, which even you might trust, they will be more likely to tell you. You can then together find a solution and action plan to avoid a potentially compromising or unsafe scenario. Communication with you is vital for a child's safety.
2 Teach them to remain alert
Children should be taught from an early age not to mindlessly go through their day but to stay alert at all times, especially when journeying from place to place, or in a public area where strangers are present. Little details about strangers, such as a sideways glance or unwholesome gesture, can alert your child that something is wrong and noticing these can make all the difference in terms of their safety.
Constantly remind them of the importance of staying alert, and when you walk with them, you can even make 'staying alert' fun through seeing who can notice different things in the area. For example, count the most people wearing caps or walking dogs on a leash. This will encourage them to engage with the world around them and to keep their eyes open.
1 Safety online
Teach your older children about online safety and ensure your computer is placed in a common area and not hidden from view. Children are naturally inquisitive and might not initially pick up on danger signals from a stranger on the net.
This is why your active involvement and monitoring is essential. You can monitor sites they visit and add filters to your internet so that specific sites and interactions are prohibited. Be clear with your child that you are doing this so that you do not violate their trust by monitoring them without their knowledge.