Monday, April 4, 2016

Family Safety

Today I would like to address a pretty important issue:

The safety of our children.....

     Although there are many different safety issues to discuss, I would like to share with you what you can do to protect your children when they play outside or at the park, or when they are at school or daycare, or even when they are in the grocery store with you! I have learned a few safety tips over the last few years and have implemented them in our family. I wish to share this bit of wisdom with everyone who has children. 

     This is one of those topics that I wish I did not have to ever think about, but we cannot live in a bubble, thinking God will protect us. Yes, He will, but we must do our part as well. We have to be vigilant in protecting and preparing our children for certain circumstances. Like we teach them about fire safety, seat belt safety, road crossing safety, etc., we must also teach them about being safe from predators.

     The first thing I'd like to address is the "Stranger Danger" talk. Most of us simply tell our children to not talk to strangers. However, there needs to be some exceptions to that rule, because police officers, doctors, and other moms at a playground are all strangers. What if you are unconscious and you, or your child, needs medical attention? He may refuse any help and even run away. What if you're hurt or they're hurt and they must ask a stranger for help? Teach them instead to go for help to police officers, doctors, nurses, and ladies with children (because that's a quick way a child can identify a mommy) Teach them that these are the good kind of strangers and are actually community helpers. Sadly, we know that some of these can also be the bad kind of strangers, so teach your child to trust their instinct and if at any moment they do not feel safe or feel uncomfortable, to get away as fast as they can. In addition, tell them that sometimes even adults we know may make them feel uncomfortable, and that they should still get away as fast as possible and tell another adult what happened. Go over these rules often to reinforce them.

     The second thing I want to address is setting up a secret family password. There will be times when your child will not be with you, whether they are at school or a friends house, and some predators will try to trick your child into going with them by saying that their mommy sent for them. Again, this could even be someone they know. This person must provide the password. If you truly did send someone to pick up your child, you need to tell them the password and they must provide it to your child. If the person is unable to provide the password, instruct your child to run away as fast as they can and find a safe adult. I suggest changing the password after any incident where you have to reveal the password.

     The secret password needs to be set up as soon as possible. Truly. If your child is not asleep, sit them down and start talking to them about it now! Come up with a password that you and your child can remember, it can be as simple as "red cuckoo bird" or "the small blue truck", and explain to them the reason for the password. Stress to your child that they must never reveal the password to anyone and must wait until the person says it first. Then practice and rehearse different situations. They don't have to be scary, simply make up a story that they are playing at the park and a stranger, or even someone they know, came up to them and said, "Your mom asked me to come pick you up." Ask your child what they should say and they should ask, "What is the password?" If none is given, then the child must run away as fast as they can. Go over and rehearse the password and different scenarios every month or so.

     If you or anyone you know is in the awful position of realizing their child is missing, please follow these guidelines:
  1. Immediately report the child missing to local law enforcement.
  2. Ask law enforcement to enter the child into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons File.
  3. Limit access to the home until law enforcement arrives and has the opportunity to collect possible evidence.
  4. Give law enforcement investigators all information on the child including the circumstances related to their disappearance.
  5. Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

     God willing, none of you will ever need this information, nor will anyone you know, but for further resources regarding the protection of children from abduction and exploitation, go to these websites:

  • McGruff the Crime Dog: Information for child safety, identification, abduction, fingerprinting and crime prevention.

Give your kids a hug, tell them you love them, and pray for their safety tonight and always.

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