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How to Keep Your Child Safe this Summer!

Equipping Your Child to

Stay Safe this Summer

 

 

By Judy Flury, Ph.D.

 

Information on children’s water safety, sun safety, etc. is plentiful and easily found, but what is often left off of “summer safety reminder” lists for parents is how to keep your child safe from predatory adults. Children are out and about more in the Summer time, and child predators are well aware of this.  Here is what you can do to keep your child safe this summer:

 

1. Make sure that you put no visible name labels on your children’s clothing, backpacks, gym bags, overnight bags, etc.  One of the most common tricks that predators use to get close enough to children to pick them up, or convince the child to come with them, is to use the child’s name --  making the child think that the adult knows them or knows you.  From your child’s point of view, this person could be a friend of yours, a friend of the family’s, etc., that they just happened to have never seen before. Discuss with your child, also, that just because someone uses their name, it doesn’t mean that the person knows them or knows their family -- there are lots of other ways to learn someone’s name. 

 

2. Teach your child that if they are ever approached by someone in a vehicle, they should NEVER go up to the vehicle, for ANY reason, no matter how reasonable the request sounds, and that they should turn around and run in the opposite direction than the vehicle is traveling (to make it hard for the car to come after them), and tell an adult what the person said to them.

 

3. This is the oldest tip in the book, but make sure your child knows their address, home number, and parents’ cell numbers.  You would be amazed at how many children do not know this information -- even children as old as 9 or 10!

 

4. Use a codeword for your family that ONLY your family and a few close friends know.  If you have to send someone to pick your child up, they know to go with them only if they know the code word.  A word of caution, though: if your child cannot keep a secret, do not use this technique. If the code word does get out, then predators would have the perfect weapon to use to get your child to go peacefully with them!

       


5. Teach your child to never be alone outside of the house and close to the sidewalk. Even to take the trash out, retrieve the mail, or play in the yard.If a caregiver is not watching them, then they need to be with other people.This may seem like overkill, and is very hard to enforce on a daily basis, especially in the summertime, but not when you consider the cases where children have literally been plucked off of their bicycles, or out of their own back yards.

 

6. Teach your child to trust their instincts.  Explain that God or nature has given them a very special gift called instinct, or a gut feeling, and that we will often feel when something is wrong or dangerous before our mind even knows why.  Teach them to trust that feeling. If any teenager or adult, even friends of the family or relatives, make them feel uncomfortable or strange in any way, they need to not follow what the person is telling them to do, and instead tell you.  Make sure that your child understand that they will not get in trouble for not following directions -- that you would not be angry with them and in fact would be very happy and proud of them for looking out for themselves .

 

7. Make it clear to your child that adults who are not personally known to the child should NEVER ask children for help.  Not for directions, not to find something that they have lost, not for help with an injury, or for any other reason.  If an adult who you don’t know asks for your help, that’s a sign of danger -- go away quickly and tell someone.

 

8. Teach your child that if they get lost in a store or in a public place, they should go to a woman with a child (preferably), or if they can’t find a mom with a child, then to someone in uniform who works at the establishment. 

9. Teach your children that adults should NEVER have secrets with a child.  If an adult tells them a secret, they are to immediately come tell you.  Make it clear to your child that this is different than the usual rule that it’s bad to be a breaker of secrets, and that secrets between adults and children are simply never allowed. 

Making sure that your child knows these 9 items is a first line of defense in keeping your child safe from would-be child predators and abductors. The next step is to enroll your child in a self-defense course that will teach them how to escape from adult holds or grabs.  My children’s martial art center includes this in our children’s classes, and so do some other martial art schools.

 



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