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Keeping Kids Safe

Keeping Kids Safe

Would Your Child Know What to Do If…
He got lost at a shopping mall?
A nice, friendly stranger offered her a ride home after school?
A baby-sitter wanted to play a secret game that no one would know about?
A friend dared him to hitchhike?

 

Start With the Basics

  1. Rehearse with your child their full name, address, and phone number, including area code, and how to make emergency phone calls from home and public phones. Practice on an unplugged phone. 911 calls from public phones are free.
  2. Teach your child to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if you become separated in a store or shopping mall, (Make sure to teach your child how to identify a clerk or security guard using name tags, aprons, uniforms or smocks as visual clues.) Tell them never to go into the parking lot alone. And, when possible, accompany your child to the restroom.
  3. Tell your child never to accept gifts or rides from someone he or she does not know. Your child should never go anywhere with another adult, even one who says you have sent him or her. Adopt a secret family code word to be used if you have to ask a third party to pick up your child. And make sure your child knows to never, ever hitchhike!
  4. Teach your 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. Discuss the “P.Z.’

 

Role-Playing with Your Children

  1. You are outside playing. Someone you do not know calls you over to their car. The person is lost and wants directions. What do you do?
  2. You are walking home. Someone you do not know drives up and tells you that your mom wants you to ride with them. What do you do?
  3. You are outside with your friends. A stranger offers you your favorite kind of candy. What do you do?
  4. Your parents are not home. The doorbell rings. When you look outside, you see a stranger at the door. What do you do?
  5. You are shopping with your mom at the mall. You get lost and cannot find her. What do you do?
  6. You are riding your bicycle from school. You have a flat tire on your bike. A stranger stops and offers to take you and your bike home. What do you do?

 

At School or At Play

Walk the neighborhood with your child. Pick out the safest route to school and friends’ houses. Avoid danger spots like alleys and wooded areas. Identify safe places to go in an emergency, like a neighbor’s house, a block parent or an open store. Encourage your child to use the “buddy system,” walk and play with friends, and to stay in well-lighted open areas where others can see them. Teach your child to walk confidently and stay alert to what’s going on and to their surroundings. Encourage your child to look out for other kids’ safety and to stay away from strangers who hang around playgrounds, public restrooms and empty buildings. A stranger is someone the child doesn’t know. Teach your child to remember and report to you the license tag numbers of people who offer rides, hang around playgrounds, or appear to follow them. If a stranger tries to follow or grab your child, teach him or her to scream, “Stay away from me,” “I don’t know this person,” or “This person is trying to hurt me,” and run to the nearest place where people are around.
 

 

Babysitters

  1. Find out as much as you can about the caretakers reputation and whether there have been any complaints in the past. Is the caretaker licensed or regulated in any way? What are their qualifications? Have background checks been made? Have you asked for and checked references?
  2. Drop in unannounced, periodically, to ensure that the quality of care meets your standards. Observe how the children related to the caretaker.
  3. Ask about the philosophy and practice of discipline. And then ask your child the same questions.
  4. Make sure there is ongoing parent involvement. Compare notes with other parents. And, most important, talk with your child daily about how things are going and investigate problems that worry you or become chronic.
 

Halloween Safety

  1. NEVER trick-or-treat alone! A responsible adult or teen should accompany each group of four to five.
  2. Try to trick-or-treat when there is still light outside. 
  3. Children should not run while trick-or-treating and NEVER run between parked cars.
  4. Only cross the street at the corner (after looking BOTH ways).
  5. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  6. Stay in your own neighborhood and only go to houses that have their porch lights on.
  7. Know exactly what route your child(ren) are taking.
  8. NEVER enter a stranger's home, even if invited. 
  9. Carry trick-or treat bags that have handles to keep arms free.
 

Water Safety

  1. Always watch children when they’re in or near water, and never leave them unattended.
  2. Swimming is fun, but it's a lifesaving skill. Teaching children how to swim may save their life.
  3. Proper fencing, barriers, and covers can be lifesaving around pools or spas. Teach children to never try to climb over a gate or fence.
  4. Learn how to perform CPR - it may save a life of a child or an adult. 
  5. When boating, lifejackets save lives and the best lifejacket is the one you wear. Make sure the jacket is a proper fit for your size and weight - especially for children.
  6. Exercise good judgement. Once on the water, use common sense; in a split second, an emergency situation can arise.
 

Home Alone

  1. 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.
  2. Make sure your child can reach you by telephone, wherever you are.
  3. Have your child check in with you at work or with a neighbor when she or he gets home.
  4. Caution your child about answering the phone and accidentally letting a stranger know he or she is alone. The child should say that parents are busy and take a message.
  5. Post the following important phone numbers near ALL your home phones – police, fire department, emergency, poison control center, mom or dad’s work phone number, and a neighbor’s phone number.


Take A Stand Against Bullying

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. There are three types of bullying:

  • Verbal Bullying: Saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, or threatening to cause harm.

  • Physical Bullying: Involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, pushing, pinching, spitting, or tripping. It also includes taking or breaking of someone’s things as well as making mean or rude hand gestures.

  • Social Bullying: Sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors about someone or embarrassing them in public.

 

Where and When Bullying Happens
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet. Approximately one out of five teens is bullied.

 

Risk Factors
No single factor puts a child at risk of being bullied or bullying others. Bullying can happen anywhere—cities, suburbs, or rural towns. Depending on the environment, some groups—such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) youth, youth with disabilities, and socially isolated youth—may be at an increased risk of being bullied.

 

Stop Bullying on the Spot
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. There are simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and keep
kids safe.

  • Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help.
  • Separate the kids involved.
  • Make sure everyone is safe.
  • Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
  • Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
  • Model respectful behavior when you intervene.

 

Know the Signs
It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem. Though not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs, some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home.
     

Take a Stand Against Bullying

 

 


Children In Cyberspace

Identifying Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.  Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day/night.
Cyberbullying messages/images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source. Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar. Kids who are bullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs
  • Skip school
  • Be unwilling to attend school
  • Receive poor grades
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Have more health problems
  • Attempt/commit suicide

 

Sexting & Sextortion
There are many people on the internet that do not have good intentions when it comes to our children. Take the time to teach your children about the dangers of talking to strangers online and the red flags they need to look for to identify a predator. Reassure your children that if they think they may have come in contact with a predator that it's okay to come to you. Teach them how not to let these predators take control. They will use any means necessary such as deceit, physical threats, extortion and bribery. 

The dangers do not stop at strangers on the internet. Talk to your kids about sexting and the permanence of an image on the internet. Just because you intend for that image to be seen by one person (i.e. a boyfriend, a crush, or for a dare), does not mean they will be the only one that sees it. Teach your kids to respect their bodies and their own self worth. Kids who sext may be seeking positive attention about their bodies and this is the only way they found how to get it. Growing up is tough part of life and everyone develops differently. Kids may be comparing themselves to other kids or even famous adult celebrities. Teach them to love who they are and their looks.