The following steps are designed to help you protect your child(ren), but remember the #1 way to protect your children is by identifying sexual predators in your area.
1) Teach Children Key Information.
Teach your child(ren) their full name, address, phone number with area code, parents’ names and work and cell phone numbers. Practice reciting this information often as children may often forget pertinent information over time. Also practice how to make an emergency call to you or 911 from a pay phone (if available) or cell phones.
2) Teach Children Who is Safe.
Children should be taught at an early age what type of “stranger” is okay to ask for help when they are lost or frightened. Good examples are: a mother with children, a counter clerk in a store or a uniformed police officer. Next time you visit a store, practice picking these types of people out with your child(ren).
3) Know Where Your Child is Going.
Children should always inform you before they go anywhere. This applies to older children as well since they are equally at risk to abduction by child predators. As you give your older children more freedom, reiterate safety rules with them. As a parent ask the questions: who, what, when, where, why and take the time to follow up on their responses.
4) Teach Children about the Buddy System.
Never let your children go anywhere alone. Remind them that there is safety in numbers and they should always use the buddy system, never going anywhere alone. Stress the point that they should avoid situations that might isolate them from others or crowds.
5) Don’t let Children be Lured in.
Children should be taught not to go near cars or be lured by adults asking for directions, help finding something they lost, that their parents are in trouble and that they will take them to mom or dad. Make sure your child understands that they should always keep a safe difference from strangers and never get close.
6) Develop a Password System.
Children can be very trusting of adults, especially adults whom they may be somewhat familiar with. It is critical that you and your child(ren) have a password system. Work out ahead of time an arranged password that any adult whom tries to accompany them must have before they will go anywhere with them. Pick a password that is both easy for your child to remember and something that is not easy for a stranger to determine (don’t make a password out of a name or address). Share the password only with your child, family members and trusted friends.
7) Reinforce Safety Skills.
Parents should seize opportunities to reinforce safety skills. If an incident occurs in your community, speak frankly about it and use this time to discuss and re-emphasize the safety rules with them. Be sure to comfort them with the fact that there is always someone who can help them. Please visit www.goodknight.org for Government Sponsored Abduction Prevention Materials (books, tapes, DVD videos, & programs). These materials are bilingual (Spanish/English). Some of the safety films were written, created, and directed entirely by children so that other children could learn how to protect themselves from dangerous situations by recognizing the behavior patterns of those who might try to harm them.
8) Always Keep an Up-To-Date Record of Your Child’s Information & Description.
In case of an emergency, it is imperative that a readily available, up-to-date record is kept. Records should include a recent photograph, fingerprints, physical attributes and even a DNA sample. The easiest way to keep up-to-date records on your child is with a child ID kit.
9) Know How to Report Your Missing Child.
Time is a very critical factor in abduction cases. Seventy four percent of children who are abducted and murdered are killed within three hours of the abduction. When you can not find your child, you should immediately call your local law enforcement and provide your child’s name, date of birth, height, weight, and any distinctive marks such as eyeglasses, braces or scars. Request that your child’s information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person File. After you have reported your child missing to local law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
10) Take the Initiative to be Informed.
As a parent, be informed by knowing where the child predators live in your neighborhood and around your local schools. The Registered Offenders List site has a wealth of information on convicted child predators all in one place, including photos, addresses, degree of criminal offenses, and distinguishable markings.