Every day life brings potential threats to the safety of our children and children have a right to know what potential threats lurk about and what to do if they feel threatened.
“Talking to children about certain dangers to their personal safety makes many adults uneasy,” said Oswego County Sheriff Reuel A. Todd. “However, as adults, it is our obligation to talk to our children to teach them how to protect themselves.”
“Teach children how to operate the telephone to call for emergency assistance,” Todd said. “They should know how to dial ‘0,’ ‘911,’ or other emergency numbers used in your area. Have them memorize their area code and phone number, and maybe a friend’s number as well.
“While it is important for a child to know how to recognize and avoid danger, it is also critical for a child to know how to respond quickly and wisely when confronted with trouble,” Todd says.
“Children should understand that there are many people they can depend on and should turn to when they feel unsafe.,” he said ““It’s important to teach children that the police are friends whose job it is to protect them.
Todd said it’s also important to let children know that they should seek out a trusted teacher, a neighbor or a friend’s parent if a police officer can’t easily be located.
Here are a few things your children should know to boost their confidence in recognizing potential danger and to build self-assurance to know how to protect themselves:
- Do not go out alone. Always take a friend with you. There is safety in numbers. If someone you don’t know tries to take you somewhere, quickly get away from them and yell out that this person is not your parent and that they’re trying to hurt you. If someone tries to grab you, make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.
- You should never get into a vehicle or go anywhere with any person unless your parents or guardians have told you it is okay to do so on that day.
- Teach your children that no one should approach or touch them in a way that makes them feel scared, confused, or uncomfortable. If someone does, teach your child that it’s okay to tell you and encourage them to do so immediately.
- You should not get close to any vehicle, unless your parent, guardian, or a trusted adult accompanies you. Do not get close to a car if someone calls out to you for directions or anything else. It is easy to be pulled into a vehicle. If someone follows you in a vehicle, stay away from them and go in the opposite direction.
- If someone is following you on foot, run away as fast as you can and tell a trusted adult what happened.
- If someone wants to take your picture, tell them no and then tell your parents, guardians, or other trusted adults about what just happened.
- If you are in a public place, and you get separated from your parents or guardians, don’t wander around looking for them. Go to a uniformed police or security officer, store salesperson or person in the information booth with a nametag, or a mother with children, and quickly tell the person you have lost your family and need help finding them.
- Never accept rides, candy, gifts, money, or medicine from someone you don’t know and trust.
- Protect yourself by never giving your name, address or what school you attend to someone you don’t know.
- Never open the door to anyone you don’t know or let callers know you are home alone. Instead, say Mom or Dad can’t come to the phone and you will have one of them call back.
- Teach your children to trust their own feelings, and assure them they have the right to say no to what they sense is wrong.
“No one likes to think about all possible threats to a child’s personal safety and well-being,” Todd said. “But a safe child is one who knows what to do when trouble happens, and you’ll feel better knowing they know how to cope when you’re not around.”