We see it all the time on the news, in the paper, and online. Yet most parents still believe that it will never happen to their child. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an estimated 800,000 children go missing every year. Unfortunately, in today’s hustling, bustling world, perpetrators are usually people they know.
While the odds are still relatively low that anything will happen to your child, it’s good to be prepared in the event of an emergency. By giving her the “safety talk,” you’ll help reduce the odds that anything will happen to her – and if something does, she’ll be prepared. Use these guidelines to ensure your daughter remains healthy and safe.
What To Say – The “Big 5”:
- Do a Safety Check. Your daughter should check-in with a parent or guardian before going anywhere, getting into a car with anyone, or accepting anything from another person – even if she knows them.
- Use the Buddy System. Never go out alone. Your daughter should always take a friend with her when playing outside or going places.
- Just say – or shout – “No!” Your daughter should always say “No” if someone makes her feel uncomfortable, scared, or threatened in any way. If the harassment does not stop, let her know its ok to scream or yell to get the attention of another adult who can help her.
- It’s ok to Tell. No matter what the circumstance, it’s ok for your child to tell a trusted adult, parent, or guardian if she feels scared, threatened or uncomfortable. Let her know that she will not be considered a tattletale or snitch.
- Help is always available. Let her know that no matter where she is, help is always available. Make sure she knows your home and cell phone number and her address. You can also give her a child ID card to carry on her at all times.
How To Say It:
- Stress anyone can be a perpetrator. Stranger abductions are rare, most of the time it’s someone the child knows, so stress that anyone can be a perpetrator – even an acquaintance or family member.
- Remain calm and collected. Avoid getting worked-up or scaring your child when you talk to her. She will sense your anxiety and react accordingly. There is no need to scare her. Be matter-of-fact and direct when you talk with her.
- Safety over Manners. Remind her that even though it’s great to be polite to adults, if she feels uncomfortable or threatened, manners take a back seat. It’s more important for your daughter to get herself out of a threatening situation than to be polite.
- Talk with all of your children. We often remember to have the safety talk with younger children while forgetting that children ages 12-18 are at equal risk. It’s important to remind your older children about the rules of safety when they go out.