Tips for Parents of School-Age Children
Child Safety Tips
As your children grow to school age, they inevitably spend a lot more time going places and doing things on their own.
And, inevitably you’re going to worry a little about that.
How can you keep them safe when you’re not with them? Following are a few ideas to help set your mind at ease, courtesy of the National Crime Prevention Council (the folks that brought you McGruff the Crime Dog) and the Seattle Police Department.
Going to School (and Elsewhere)
Help children memorize their phone number and full address, including area code and zip code. Write down other important phone numbers, such as your work and mobile phone, on a card for your children to carry with them.
Map out a safe way for children to walk to/from school or the bus stop. Avoid busy roads and intersections. Do a trial run with them to point out places they should avoid along the way, such as vacant lots, construction areas and parks where there aren’t many people.
Encourage children to walk to/from school or the bus stop with a sibling or friend, and to wait at bus stops with other children.
Around the Neighborhood
Have your children tell you or ask permission before leaving the house, and give them a time to check in or be home. When possible, have them leave a phone number of where they will be.
Get to know your children’s friends. Meet their parents before letting your children 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.
Coordinate with a neighbor to designate a house in your neighborhood where children can go if they need help. Point out other places they can go for help, such as stores, libraries, and police stations.
Dealing With Strangers and Other Adults
Help your children recognize “safe strangers,” people they can ask for help when they need it. Police officers and firefighters are two examples of very recognizable safe strangers. Teachers, principals, and librarians are adults children can trust, too, and they are easy to recognize when they’re at work.
Teach your children, “No, Go, Yell, Tell.” If in a dangerous situation, kids should say “no,” run away, yell as loud as they can and tell a trusted adult what happened right away.
If you need to have another adult pick up your child at school or elsewhere, use a code word—a word or phrase you give to both your child and the adult. Your child knows not to go with an adult who doesn’t know the code word.
Have a current photo and/or video of your child, and remember to never print a child’s name on the outside of their clothes or use nametags when they are in public.
Teach your children when to call 911 and what to say to the dispatcher (name, address, and what is happening). Be sure they know your full names (“Mommy and Daddy” is not enough), your home address and phone number, where you work, and at least one close friend and/or relative’s phone number.
If children are home alone and answer a phone call for an absent parent, have them say, “She can’t come to the phone right now,” and take a message or tell the caller to try later. And, children aren’t old enough to answer the door until they are old enough to check the identity of the person at the door without opening it.
We know your children’s safety is your biggest concern, and we hope you find these tips useful. There’s just no substitute for staying involved in your kids’ lives when it comes to keeping them safe and sound!