Your Child's Safety
While most kids pass through childhood without ever experiencing physical harm, some are frightened or hurt by crime. As a parent, one of your responsibilities is to teach your children how to protect themselves and respond to threatening situations. And, you should always take the time to listen carefully to your children's fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uncomfortable.
Here are some specific suggestions:
- Rehearse with children their full name, address, and phone number (including area code) and how to make emergency phone calls from home and public phones.
- Walk the neighborhood with your children. Show them safe places they can go to in an emergency, like a neighbor's house, a block parent or an open store.
- Tell children never to accept gifts or rides from someone they don't know well.
- Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if they become separated from you in a store or shopping mall. Tell them never to go into the parking lot alone, or with a stranger.
- Always accompany your children to public restrooms.
- Teach children that no one, not even someone they know, has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Tell them they have the right to say "no" to an adult in this situation.
- Make sure your children are taking the safest route to school and friends' houses, one that avoids danger spots like alleys, new construction and wooded areas. Test walk it together.
- Encourage your children to walk and play with friends, not alone, and to stay in well-lighted, open areas where others can see them.
- Don't hang a house key around your child's neck. It's a telltale sign that you won't be home when they return from school. Put it inside a pocket or sock.
- Teach your children to walk confidently and stay alert to what's going on around them.
- Have your children check in with you at work or with a neighbor when they get home. Agree on rules for having friends over and going to someone else's house when no adult is present.
- Explain to your children that a stranger is someone they don't know well. If a stranger tries to follow them or grab them, they should run away, scream, and make lots of noise. Tell them to run to the nearest place where there are people and to shout "This man is not my daddy!," or "This person is trying to hurt me!" or "Stay away from me" instead of simply "Help!"
Source: National Crime Prevention Council. Parent Pages was developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. HD 23
Last updated July 10, 2020