- Teach your children never to answer the door unless the person is a trusted family friend or relative, your children feel comfortable being alone with that person, and you have told your children that it is okay.
- Decide whether or not the telephone should be answered and what your children should say to a called when you aren't home.
- Teach your children to check in with you or another trusted adult upon returning home to let you know that they have arrived safely. Teach them to check in with you or another trusted adult if there is a change of plans, they are scared, or have an emergency.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood and discuss where your children can go away from your house and the proper route to take. Teach your children not to take shortcuts.
- Keep contact numbers and emergency numbers near the telephone. Make sure your children know how to reach you in an emergency by learning your work phone, cell phone, or pager number, and how and when to dial "911" or "0."
- Teach your children that if they become separated from you when you are out to go to a uniformed law-enforcement or security officer, store salesperson with a nametag, person at the information booth or help center or a mother with children and tell that person he or she is lost.
- Leave items and clothing with their name on them at home. If someone they don't know calls out their name, teach them not to be fooled or confused and not to respond.
- When you speak to your children, do so in a calm, non-threatening manner. Children should not be frightened to get the point across. Fear can actually work at cross-purposes to the safety message, because fear can be paralyzing to a child.
- Children need to know that they can TELL you or a trusted adult if they feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused. They also need to know that there will always be someone to help them, and they have the right to be safe.
- Practice basic safety skills with your children. Make an outing to mall or park a "teachable" experience in which your children can practice checking with you, using pay telephones, going to the restroom with a friend, and locating the adults who can help if they need assistance.
- Children should not go out alone and should always TAKE A FRIEND with them when they go places or play outside.
- Make your child aware of tricks adults may use and how to recognize them. Some will offer candy or money. Other will ask for directions, offer to take a child's picture, or ask for help finding a lost puppy or kitten. Children should not engage in conversation and should get away as quickly as possible.
- Teach your children that they have the right to say NO to any unwelcome, uncomfortable, or confusing touch or actions by others. Teach them to TELL you immediately if this happens. Reassure them that you are there to help and it is okay to tell you anything.
- Teach your children to yell for help if someone tries to take them away. They should yell, "This is not my mother (father)!" "This person is trying to take me away!"
- Establish reasonable rules and guidelines for using the computer by your children. Even if you don't own a computer, be sure to identify other places your child may have access as libraries, school, and friend's houses.
- Be sure to screen babysitters and caregivers. Many states now have a public registry that allows parents to check out individuals for prior criminal records and sex offenses. Check out references with other families you trust who have used the caregiver or babysitter.
- Make a point of knowing your children's friends and parents, and make sure they CHECK FIRST with you before you do anything or go anywhere.
- REMEMBER that there is no substitute for your attention and supervision. Being available and taking time to really know and listen to your children helps build feelings of safety and security.
This safety information was developed in conjunction with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Safety Guidebook with Safety Tips for Parents/Guardians and Children