Did you know that one of the most dangerous times for kids to fall victim to a crime is when they are not in school? Last week I wrote about some ideas to keep kids safe–and active–this summer, and today I wanted to follow up with some additional safety tips which I know will help.
During summer, kids often want to just be at home—to watch movies, eat snacks, play video games, and maybe read a little (if parents are lucky).
But staying home can include risks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children as young as nine or ten years old may be left home alone for brief periods if children are comfortable with it. But before you allow a child to stay home, make sure you’ve shared these tips:
Make sure your child knows how to reach you or a trusted adult (write the phone numbers down).
Review possible scenarios your child could face and explain how to handle them (e.g., what to do if the phone rings or the electricity goes out).
Explain how to call 911 and write down what information they would likely need to share: full name, address, etc.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children says more than 2,000 children are reported missing each day. Most simply leave home without permission and return within a few hours, but sadly a few are forcibly taken.
It is important, especially if your child is home alone or out in the community without supervision, that they know some simple rules to help them stay safe.
Don’t talk to strangers.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Stick together; there’s safety in numbers.
Practice basic self-defense. A swift kick to shins or private parts along with a loud scream that this person isn’t a parent or friend should get the attention of people in the area.
Lock doors, especially if home alone.
What people don’t realize about child abduction and exploitation is that the majority of cases involve an adult who is familiar to the child, not a stranger!
In general, we encourage children to be helpful and to respect authority (often represented by adults), so when a kidnapper asks a child to comply with a request—especially an adult the child knows—the child often feels like he or she should comply. This is especially true if the kidnapper knows the family and tells the child that something has happened to a family member.
Parents can setup a code word with their children. If any adult asks the child to go with them, they have to know the code word. Parents also need to be clear with their children that if they feel they are in danger, they should “break the rules”–do not stay quiet and behave appropriately.
Instead, make a huge, loud, obnoxious scene and scream for help to get people’s attention. Have them practice once or twice screaming at the top of their lungs, “Help, this person is trying to take me.” Explain to children that this is the rare time that it is okay to go completely crazy in public.
Teach children that if they feel threatened, they should follow these simple rules: “No, Go, Yell, Tell.”
Yell as loudly as they can.
Tell a trusted adult what happened.
The idea of anyone assaulting or abducting our kids is incredibly disturbing and frightening. I never want this to happen in our community, but if someone were to try, I’d want our kids to be as prepared as possible. Please use this information to help keep your family safe. If you’d like to learn more, visit our website and click on the Community Support tab for more child safety resources.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police