Child Safety is More Than Just a “Stranger Danger” Campaign
Today children need to be empowered with positive messages and age-appropriate skills that will build their self-confidence and self-esteem while helping to keep them safer. They need to learn how to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations. And, if ending up in a dangerous or scary situation, children need to do everything they can to get out of that situation. They don’t need to be told the world is a scary place. They watch the news, hear adults talking, and may even experience violence firsthand. Rather, they need to know their parent, guardian, or another trusted adult is there for them if they are in trouble. And they also need to know most adults they encounter in their lives are good people.
In specific situations such as being lost outside, the child safety messages need to be tailored to those circumstances. Children should…
- Not wander away from where they first became lost because staying put may increase the chances of being found. If that place becomes too dangerous, children should go to the nearest safe spot and wait for rescuers.
- Make noise either by yelling, blowing a whistle, or attracting attention in some other way. This will help in bringing someone to their rescue. A simple child safety technique is yelling, “You’re Not My Mommy” or “You’re Not My Daddy” and running away. Many Martial Arts schools teach simple break away techniques to help ensure children are able to get away if and when needed. Some have engaging video and software-based curriculums as well.
Parents and guardians should make child safety part of a child’s everyday life in a reassuring way by practicing some of these skills. Whether it’s checking first with a trusted adult, taking a friend, or avoiding and getting out of dangerous situations, there are easy “what-if” scenarios to practice with your children to make sure they “get it.” Make outings to a mall or park a “teachable moment” to help reinforce these skills. This practice will help them know what to do if they become lost or are in danger. Practice these skills on a regular basis to make sure they become second nature.
Reassure your children that you are there for them, and remind them there are other people who are able to help too.