This month's failed abduction of a 10-year-old girl on the streets of Philadelphia has parents across the country asking what more they can do to keep their children safe. Captured on video, the attempted abduction highlights the importance of children knowing what to do in a similar situation.
In the Philadelphia case, the girl and her 2-year-old brother knew exactly what to do -- fight and scream like there was no tomorrow.
And millions of parents are now wondering if their own children would know to do the same.
According to experts, the goal is to teach children basic safety skills without instilling unnecessary fears.
"The last thing you want is for your child to live in constant fear, and be untrusting of most everyone," explains Julia Cook, author of Smarter Than the Scoopers, a book written for children to provide them with the skills and confidence needed to make right choices in their daily social interactions.
Child Watch of North America, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and recovery of missing, abused and exploited children, offers these important tips for children and their parents:
Safety Tips for Children:
- Know your name, address, and phone number(s).
- Learn how and when to call 911.
- If you are scared of someone, RUN to safety.
- It's OK to be RUDE to a grown-up if you feel you are unsafe.
- Learn the difference between an "OK" secret and a "NOT OK" secret and beware of an adult that asks you to keep a secret from parents.
- Have a "Call List" and know how and when to use it.
- Don't let anyone on the phone or at the door know that you are home alone.
- If you ever get lost in a mall, ask the closest store clerk for help and then stay where you are until you are found.
- Avoid shortcuts when you are walking from one place to another.
- If you are ever "scooped," scream, kick, bite and FIGHT as hard as you can to get away! NEVER trust what the "scooper" tells you.
- Tell your parents or a trusted adult if someone is asking you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Listen to your "Uh Oh" voice.
- Always ask your parents for permission before getting on the Internet.
- Never talk to people online without your parent's permission
And Some Tips for Parents
- Work hard to establish trust and communication with your children from day one!
- Don't ever leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not.
- Make sure you know how to find or contact your children at all times.
- Take an active role in your children's activities.
- As tired as you may be, take the time to listen intently to your children when they tell you they had a bad dream. There could be a reason. Trust your instincts.
- Talk to your children about inappropriate incidences you hear on the news and get their perspective.
- Question and monitor anyone who takes an unusual interest in your children.
- Teach your children that they can be rude to an adult if they feel threatened in any way. They need to hear it from your directly because this message often contradicts everything they have heard before.
- Teach children the difference between an "OK" secret and a "NOT OK" secret. Assure your child that you would never want him/her to feel like they had to keep a "NOT OK" secret from you.
- Have your children practice their most annoying scream. They may need to use it someday.
- Check websites for registered offenders in your neighborhood. Talk to your children about why these people should be avoided.
- Keep your family computer in a central location that is easily monitored and avoid letting your children have internet access in unsupervised areas (i.e. computers in theirbedrooms, etc.).
Most importantly, practice, review and reinforce all of these tips in a manner that will not scare your children.
The goal is to make them smart. And keep them safe.
For more information, visit the Child Watch of North America website.
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