As parents we never stop worrying about our children, no matter how old they or where they are in the world.
Unfortunately we can’t follow them around to keep them safe (as tempting as that may be).
What we can do is take precautions and educate our children on how to avoid and react to dangerous situations.
10 tips to keep your children and teens safe from harm
- Don’t allow your child to travel alone to an unpopulated area.
- As parents it is our responsibility to know where our children are going, what route they will be traveling and at what they time should reach their destination.
- Ensure that your child’s phone has quick access to both parents’ phone numbers as well as to the number of another close relative and to the police and the local head of security (if relevant). It’s important not just to show your child that these numbers are in their phone but to practice accessing the numbers quickly.
- Before your child goes on a trip or if they are traveling somewhere far make sure that they turn off the phone’s lock screen so that if they find themselves in an emergency they can easily and quickly get into the phone.
- Make sure that your child always leaves the house with a fully charged phone.
- Have an agreement with your child that they will let you know when they arrive at their destination and that they will give you a call or send you a message at set times along the way (ex. every two hours) letting you know everything is OK.
- Provide your child with a self-defense tool such as pepper spray or a pressure point pen along with clear instructions on how to use it if necessary. Use role-play to practice using these tools in various situations.
- Put an tracking app on your child’s phone so that you can find them in the case of an emergency. Make sure to explain to your child that this app will not be used to encroach on their privacy but to help keep them safe.
- Teach your children self-defense! Even just a few basic moves that you can practice with them at home may help save their lives.
- Each time your child leaves the house remind them about these rules and what they are supposed to do in the case of an emergency. If you’re not at home at the time you can have this conversation over the phone.
Safety tips to discuss with your children and teens
- Avoid getting close to, speaking with or interacting with people that you don’t know if they seem suspicious.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times and pay attention to anything that seems out of place or unnatural. Don’t walk around with your headphones in your ears or your eyes on your phone.
- Don’t hitchhike! We know that it’s common for teenagers living in distant locations to get around by hitchhiking but try to discourage it if possible. In a situation when there is no other choice, make sure that your child knows to only get in the car with people that they know.
- If you do hitchhike, make sure that doors are not locked.
- If you are in a car with someone and you see something suspicious get your phone out and bring up one of your emergency numbers so you can dial it quickly if necessary. If you have pepper spray, make sure that it’s easily accessible.
- If you are alone in with someone who feels threatening to you get out your phone and call a parent or another reliable adult.. Loudly describe to them your situation and the people around you.
- If you feel threatened while outside call out as if there is another person in the area to dissuade the suspicious individual from disturbing you.
- Learn some basic self-defense maneuvers.
- If someone tries to pull you into their car it’s better to run and fight then to let yourself get grabbed, even if it means getting hurt.
- The rules that your parents taught you when you were young are still relevant even today when you are older, taller, stronger and smarter - don’t speak to strangers, don’t accept things from people that you don’t know and don’t go into a stranger’s house or car
Please take the time to sit with your child and teen to talk about safety. At the end of the day, it can make all the difference in the world.