In today’s world, being a parent and protecting your children can often seem like a daunting task. Where do you even start? There is a laundry list of things that could be dangerous. What about the times when you are not there with your children to protect them; will they know what to do?
With a recent Fort Worth child abduction fresh in the minds of many, it’s time to familiarize ourselves with the child safety tips we can take as parents to protect our kids, as well as the things we can teach our children to look out for so they can protect themselves.
What can you do as a parent?
- PHOTOS! It’s important to have a recent, clear photo of your child, preferably with whatever he or she might normally have on (ie: glasses, braces, earrings, etc.), as well as without. If your son or daughter has any identifying marks on his or her body, such as a birth mark or scar, know where those are located and what they look like, or take a photo.
- Before your child leaves home for the day, make an effort to remember what he or she is wearing. Any detail, even down to tennis shoes and a backpack, help law enforcement in providing the best description to the public quickly.
- Go where they go, or know where they go. Obviously it is ideal to keep your children within eyesight; however, on the many occasions when they will be away from you, know where they are and have a trusted contact at that location with whom you can check in if needed.
- Check with your local police department to see if there is a fingerprinting office. Having your child’s fingerprints available can be extremely useful in the investigation.
- BE TECH-FRIENDLY. Let’s face it, between various social media platforms and interactive video gaming, it’s likely that your son or daughter has the ability to talk online — via voice or text — with friends. Learn their gaming and technology systems, and know how to access their accounts.
- Have your feelers out for suspicious activity where you live. Get to know who lives on your street and the cars they usually drive. See a car driving slowly through your neighborhood, or stopping to chat with kids on the street? Call your police non-emergency line, or contact your neighborhood police officer. If what you see is urgent, don’t be afraid to call 911.
Teach Child Safety Tips
What can you talk to your kids about doing?
- Stranger danger. Talk with your kids so they understand to talk only to trusted adults. Make sure they know that if an unknown adult approaches them to chat (even if they are asking for help), it is OKAY for them to say NO! Child predators prey off of the naivety often found in young children.
- GET LOUD! Explain to your kids that if for whatever reason an adult they do not know tries to touch them or get them to go somewhere, they need to be loud! Yell for help, and create as much distance as possible from the adult. Getting a bystander’s attention is a huge advantage in showing that something is wrong, and ultimately keeping your child safe.
- If your child is walking or riding a bike somewhere, tell him or her to use well-traveled roads. Busier areas with more people passing by can be an advantage to your child if something goes wrong.
- Find a buddy. There is strength in numbers. If your child is going somewhere without parents, encourage him or her to stay with a buddy at all times.
- Make sure your kids know parent information, such as address and telephone number. Also, teach your kids about dialing 911, and the appropriate times to do so.
- Check in. Reiterate the importance of checking in with a parent or guardian whenever your child goes somewhere without you.
Abduction is undoubtedly one of the scariest things a parent could imagine happening. Know the precautionary measures you can take to best protect your children, and to create confidence in them in the case of an emergency.
Born and raised in northern Illinois, Julia made the move to Texas in 2013 in an attempt to get as far away from cold weather as possible. Julia initially lived in the Sherman area, working for the Department of Family and Protective Services, but ultimately set down roots in north Fort Worth after meeting her (now) husband in 2015. Julia is a U.S. Navy veteran and had the opportunity to travel to multiple countries in her eight years of service. Now, Julia spends her time as a police officer for a large city within the metroplex. When not at work, Julia spends most of her time chasing around her two-year-old daughter, watching her eight-year-old bonus son play baseball, having bonfires at the house with her husband, crossfitting in her garage gym, and running various local races.