Keeping our community and children safe is everyone’s first concern. Here are a few tips on how you can help keep your kids safe.
- Know where your children are. In today’s world with technology and cell phones, it’s much easier to keep track of our children. Even with all of this technology, it’s important that you know where your children are. Teach them to always let you know where they will be. Set up a check in time so that they know to call home and let you know they are safe. Even if in a large group of friends, it’s important that your kids share with you their plans and where they can be found in case of emergency.
- Help younger children learn important phone numbers. Teach children to learn their home phone number, parent’s or grandparent’s cell phones or an emergency family friend. With our phones saving telephone numbers for us, often we just click on a name to call and don’t bother memorizing numbers anymore. Kids need to know these important numbers by heart and not rely on an address book stored in a cell phone. If you as a parent plan to be away from home, be sure to let your children know where you will be in case of emergency also.
- Set neighborhood boundaries. In most neighbourhoods there are certain parts we don’t want our kids to play. Abandoned buildings can be tempting to play or hang out in. But often are dangerous places for kids to be in. It’s always good to set a mapped out area of your neighbourhood that your kids will be safe in. Teach them about the acceptable areas for play and those which are dangerous and kids shouldn’t be around.
- Know who your kids are with. Teenagers may give an excuse to not have their parent meet all of their friends, but it’s not our job as parents to be cool but protect our kids. Have your teenager introduce you to new friends. Meeting their parents is something you should also insist on. No matter what the age, friends telephone numbers and addresses should always be on hand should you need to find your child quickly. Keep an open communication with other parents to ensure that all the neighbourhood kids are safe. It’s also important to ask about the time spent outside the home. If your children are spending long periods of time with certain friends, you should know where they are, who they are with and what they are up to when possible.
- Meet their parents before letting your children to go to their home and keep a list of their phone numbers. If you can’t meet their parents, call and talk to them. Ask what your children might do at their house and if they will be supervised.
- Neighbourhood watch and safe houses. There are still many community and neighbourhood watch programs in place to let kids know where a safe house in their neighbourhood is. Those who are registered “safe houses” have to pass a security and background check by police. But it’s important as adults that you know which homes are current rather than an old sign in a home’s window. Contact your local police department and ask about dedicated safe homes to be sure they are current and up to date with security clearances. It’s always a good idea to choose a neighbour you trust that your kids will know to go to if you’re not home. Remember that it’s isn’t always a stranger that is dangerous but also people who your children may feel are safe. Large stores, libraries, community centres and police stations should be on the list of safe places for kids to look for in any emergency.
- Teach children to feel safe to tell you everything. Adults who abuse children don’t do so only physically but also mentally. Many predators induce fear into kids hoping that they will keep a secret for them, often threatening kids to not tell anyone. No matter what, your kids need to know that they can tell you anything and they should if it involves any adult whether stranger or family member. Keeping open lines of communication and reassuring them that they are safe to tell their parent(s) ANYTHING can help to keep your children safe and confident about being honest and truthful.