Develop a Safe Home Game Plan
Make sure that:
- When you go away, put lights and radios on timers to create the illusion that someone is home. Leave shades blinds and curtains in normal positions.
- If you live alone, use your first initial and last name only on mailboxes and phone directories.
- If a stranger requests to use your phone, ask them to wait outside while you call.
- Never admit that you are home alone.
- If you live in an apartment, avoid being in the garage or laundry room alone, especially at night.
- If you return home and find a door or window open, don't go in. Go to the nearest phone and telephone police.
Watch your Automobiles
- Lock your car and pocket the key whether you leave for several minutes or several hours. Make sure the windows are closed.
- Never leave an ID tag on your key ring. If your keys are lost or stolen, it could help a thief find your car or locate and burglarize your home.
- If you have to leave a key with a parking attendant, leave only the ignition key.
- Always have your key in your hand when walking to your car.
Protect Your Things:
- If you leave anything inside, such as a CD player, tape deck, or a cellular phone, make sure it is out of sight.
- Don't leave important papers or credit cards in the glove compartment.
- Always check your back seat before you enter your vehicle.
- Keep doors locked and windows up while driving or parking.
- Park in well lighted areas.
- If you are being followed, do not go home; drive to the police department or a safe place, preferably a public place with people around.
- If your car breaks down, pull over, put up the hood, turn on your flashers, and tie a white cloth to the antenna. Get in the car, lock the doors, close the windows, and turn the engine off. When someone stops, roll the window down only enough to ask him or her to call for help.
Do Not Hitchhike!
The great thing about kids is their natural trust in people, especially in adults. It is sometimes hard for parents to teach children to balance this trust with caution. However, kids today need to know common-sense rules that can help keep them safe and build the self-confidence they need to handle emergencies.
Would your child know what to do if :
- He/she got lost at a shopping mall?
- A nice-looking, friendly stranger offered him/her a ride home after school?
- A friend dared him/her to drink some beer or smoke marijuana?
- The baby-sitter or a neighbor wanted to play a secret game?
Start with the Basics:
- Make sure your children know their full name, address (city and state), and phone number with area code.
- Be sure your children know how to call 9-1-1 or`0' in emergencies and how to use a public phone. Practice making emergency calls with a make-believe phone.
- Tell your children never to accept rides or gifts from someone that they and you do not know.
- Teach children to go to a store clerk, a security guard, or a police officer for help if they get lost in anywhere.
- Set a good example with your own actions - lock doors and windows and see who is there before opening the door.
- Take time to listen carefully to your children's fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts.
At school and play:
- Encourage your children to walk and play with friends, not alone. Tell them to avoid places that could be dangerous vacant buildings, alleys, playgrounds or parks with broken equipment and litter.
- Teach children to settle arguments with words, not fists, and to walk away when others are arguing. Remind them that taunting and teasing can hurt friends and make enemies.
- Make sure your children are taking the safest routes to and from school, stores, and friends' houses. Walk the routes together and point out places they could go for help.
- Encourage kids to be alert in the neighborhood and to tell an adult (you, a teacher, a neighbor, a police officer) about anything they see that does not seem quite right.
- Check out the school's policies on absent children - are parents called when a child is absent?
- Check out daycare and after-school programs - look at certifications, staff qualifications, and rules on parent permission for field trips, reputation in the community, parent participation, and policies on parent visits.
At home alone:
- Leave a phone number where you can be reached. Post it by the phone, along with numbers for a neighbor and emergencies - police and fire departments, paramedics, and the poison control center.
- Have your child check in with you or a neighbor when he/she gets home. Agree on rules for having friends over and going to a friend's house when no adult is home.
- Make sure your child knows how to use the window and door locks.
- Tell your child not to let anyone into the home without your permission, and never to let a caller at the door or on the phone know there's no adult home. Kids can always say their parents are busy and take a message.
- Work out an escape plan in case of fire or other emergencies. Rehearse with your children.
Protecting your child against sexual abuse:
- Let your child know that he/she can tell you anything, and that you will be supportive.
- Teach your child that no one, not even a teacher or a close relative, has the right to touch him/her in a way that feels uncomfortable and that it is okay to say “get away” and tell a trusted adult.
- Do not force kids to kiss or hug or sit on a grown-up's lap if they do not want to. This gives them control and teaches them they have the right to refuse.
- Always know where your child is and whom he/she is with.
- Tell your child to stay away from strangers who hang around playgrounds, public restrooms, and schools.
- Be alert for changes in your child's behavior such as sudden secretiveness, withdrawal from activities, refusal to go to school, unexplained hostility toward a favorite babysitter or relative, or increased anxiety. Some physical signs of abuse include bedwetting, loss of appetite, venereal disease, nightmares, and complaints of pain or irritation around the genitals.
- If your child has been sexually abuse, report it to the police or a child protection agency immediately.
Take a stand:
- Work with schools and recreation centers to offer study time, activities, tutoring, and recreation before and after school.
- Start a school callback program. When a student (elementary, middle, or high school age)- does not arrive as scheduled, volunteers at the school call the parents to make sure the absence is excused.
- Volunteer to help with a block parent program. If you can't offer your home as a haven for children in emergencies, you can help in other ways by telephoning, fundraising, or public relations.