Can you believe it is back to school time? Summer just flies by! This time of year is a great time to talk to your children, younger and older, about safety.

I tell my own young kids that most adults are good people, but some adults might try to trick you into a bad or dangerous situation. These are “tricky grown-ups.” Teaching children to avoid “strangers” is not enough and can be confusing. We must also teach them to recognize and respond to potentially dangerous situations.

Teach your children always to check first with you or a trusted adult before going anywhere with or accepting anything from anyone.

Secondly, teach your kids to “Say NO, GO, and TELL.”

If anyone approaches your child, offers them a ride, asks for directions, or makes them feel uncomfortable, instruct them to say “NO,” get away from the situation (GO), and TELL a trusted adult. Be sure to discuss with your child who trusted adults may be: teachers, parents, friend’s parents, neighbors, police officers, firefighters, relatives, etc.

It’s also important to not forget about your older children. Children aged 11-17 are equally at risk for abduction. At the same time you are giving your older children more freedom, make sure they understand important safety rules as well.

The following are some tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

  • When you speak to your children, do so in a calm, nonthreatening manner. Children do not need to be frightened to get the point across.
  • Speak openly about safety issues. Children will be less likely to come to you if the issue is enshrouded in secrecy.
  • Don’t confuse children with the concept of “strangers.” The “stranger-danger” message is not effective, as children do not have the same understanding of who a stranger is as an adult might. Most importantly, “stranger danger” ignores the fact most children are abducted by someone they know.
  • Practice what you talk about. You may think your children understand your message, but until they can incorporate into their daily lives, it may not be clearly understood. Practice some “what if” scenarios.
  • Teach your children that it is more important to get out of a threatening situation than it is to be polite.

When it comes to keeping your child safe, YOU are your child’s best resource!

For additional Child Safety tips, visit The Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website at www.missingkids.com.

Until next month… Stay aware & Stay Safe.