- Tell them: Do not talk to “strangers” under any circumstances. However, certain people can be sources of help — such as police officers, local store owners, or a mother or father visibly with their own children, in the event a youngster is in trouble;
- Establish “safety nets” of trusted adults and places, such as schools, stores, libraries, and places of worship. Also, discuss safe routes to use on the way to and from school and other destinations, as well as places to avoid, such as deserted areas or parking lots;
- Encourage your child to trust his/her intuition and take action if she/he senses danger. Please tell your child not to worry about being polite, to make a lot of noise, and to run away, scream, shout, or punch back at anyone that approaches them physically;
- Teach the NO-GO-TELL system. Your child should: (1) Say NO if someone tries to touch her/him or make them feel scared or uncomfortable, (2) GO quickly away from the situation, and (3) TELL a trusted adult;
- When your child is old enough to go out alone, demand that he/she tells you the three Ws: who I’m going with, where I’ll be, and when I’ll return home. Make sure your child informs you anytime his/her plans change;
- Make safety part of your routine everyday life. Alert your child to ploys that manipulative people may use to ingratiate themselves. Role-play some scenarios on a trip to a park or mall or other public place. For example, you might ask, “Suppose a person in a car asks you for directions? What if someone you don’t know comes to pick you up at school or at a playground? What if they say I sent them? What if they ask for your help in finding a lost pet? Or ask if you want to do something that sounds fun? Practice these and other scenarios on a regular basis to reinforce safety concepts.
- Establish home and phone safety rules. When your child is old enough to stay home alone, he/she should keep the door locked and never answer questions over the phone or at the door. Be aware of your child’s Internet activities. Predators use online chat rooms and other Internet resources to arrange face-to-face meetings with children. Many Internet service providers provide parent-control options to block certain material from coming in to your child’s computer. Special filtering software is also an option for blocking objectionable material. Use these tools, and stay involved in your child’s activities.
Any questions, contact the Westwood Police Department (201) 664-7000.