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Strangers lurk everywhere. They are in your child’s school, the neighbourhood park, the supermarket parking lot when you are getting your bags. What if some of these strangers have dangerous intentions for your child? With instances of child abuse increasing every day, we need to teach our kids to keep themselves safe. For try as we do, we cannot be them all the time.
The following tips are often overlooked and may even come across as odd. But trust us, in desperate times such as these, we can’t do enough to keep our kids safe. Learning about and applying these safety measures is the best way to keep stranger danger far away from our precious darlings!
1. Select a code-word that only the family knows
Want to send someone to pick up your child from school when you cannot make it? Is there a danger you want to warn them about but there are suspicious people around? Just use the code-word! This can be anything – simple but not too common – that only your inner circle knows. How about “sunshine fairies”, for example?
2. Teach your child to seek help from a mom with children
What if, God forbid, your child is stuck in a dangerous situation and there’s no policeman nearby? Teach your child to seek out a mom with kids of her own and ask for her help. Chances are that a mom will be compassionate and helpful toward your child and see them out of danger.
3. Don’t write your child’s name on everything she owns
“Hi Pooja. Your Mom asked me to bring you home today.” Little Pooja looks up at this smiling man and goes along happily. After all, if he knows her name, he must be speaking the truth!
This scenario is more common than we know. Personalizing all your child’s stuff – tiffin-boxes, backpacks, water bottles- makes it easier for criminals to connect to them. If the school has any such demands for identification purposes, speak to them about this. Consider using child safety products such as a child location tracker if there is long travel involved.
4. Teach your kids these simple alarm signals and messages
“Where’s my Mom and Dad?”
“I don’t know you!”
“Leave me alone!”
“Who are you?”
These expressions cause alarm in passers-by and surrounding people, alerting them to the possible risk your child is in. Explain to your child that anyone he doesn’t recognize is a stranger until Mom and Dad introduce them. And when they come across a stranger who tries to act too friendly, these expressions are what they must use. There may be a few awkward situations at first, but better safe than sorry!
4. They shouldn’t approach strangers in cars at any cost
Lollies, gifts, sugar candy – nothing at all should compel your kids to approach strangers in cars. Make it very clear to your children that they should call out for you if anyone tries to pull them in or offer them a lift. If they are being followed, they should run in the opposite direction as that will buy them some time while the car turns around.
5. No strangers should be let into the house without asking Mom and Dad
Scary as it sounds, stranger danger can strike at home too! Ideally, don’t let your child answer the door alone. Always accompany them till they are old enough to understand and recognize people. Also teach them that Mom and Dad need to first check if this person is a stranger or someone who is a friend, based on which they will be allowed or denied entry. Installing child safety locks on the doors and windows is a good idea.
6. Tell them to forget all manners if a stranger creates trouble
Loud screaming, banging doors and windows, flaying arms about wildly, crying – everything is perfectly fine when a stranger is doing anything to them that they find objectionable or painful. Being destructive around a criminal is the fastest way to get attention and be rescued.
7. Make your kids memorize these safe zones to run to when in danger
- Friend’s house
- Police Stations
- Crowded Area
The above are places to go to when in danger. Tell your kids that if they feel unsafe and can’t find you, they should run to one of these places and stay there till you find them. They can give your phone number and address to a safe person such as a policeman or a shop owner or their friend’s mom.
Some of the above tips may come across as paranoid. In fact, it is likely that you will never have to actually implement them.
But hey, on the off chance that danger strikes one day, it is always better to be as prepared as we can. Our kids are the reason we live and anything for them, right?