While back to school is a time for buying new school supplies, picking out the perfect outfit for the first day, and preparing for a new year, it’s also a time to remind your kids about safety guidelines. Even if your child thinks they know all the rules about talking to strangers, it’s important to go over these guidelines with them before they walk home from school or walk into the school building.
If they are too young to memorize your phone number, then try making a bracelet (like these from Danya Banya) that includes your
number in its construction.
2. Point out safe places
If your child wants to take a bike ride or walk to a friend’s house, let them know what paths are safe to take and which to avoid. It’s also important to let them know what to do if someone approaches them while they are by themselves.
There are several children’s books that cover the topic of strangers and can help explain the danger of these “bad apples” in a way children can understand. The Berenstain Bears’ Learn About Strangers by Jan and Stan Berenstain and Not Everyone is Nice by Frederick Alimonti and Ann Tedesco, PhD, are just a couple of the books that will give your child a good idea of how to identify a dangerous situation.
3. Teach children to trust their instincts
Tell your child that if they are ever in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable—even if they are with someone they know well—that they should get away as fast as they can and tell you or another trusted adult. Make sure they know that they will not get in trouble if they tell you what happened and that they should never be encouraged to keep a secret from you.
4. Teach your children to be assertive
Let your child know that is okay to say “no” when they feel uncomfortable. Pattie Fitzgerald of the Safely Ever After program encourages children to trust their inner voice. Kids younger than 10 should tell an adult if they are having a yucky or “uh oh” feeling about a situation. And children older than 10 should be encouraged to pay attention to their feelings, especially if they are being asked to do something they feel is wrong.
5. Encourage your child to play with others
Predators are more likely to target children who are by themselves, than ones who are amongst a group. If your child must walk home from school or if they are going to be playing somewhere without you, it’s a good idea to have them take a friend or two.
The most important thing we can do as parents is educate our children so that they can make good decisions even when we aren’t there to help them.
Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of two energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys running around with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects and home decor.