Every day life brings potential threats to the safety of our children. Children have a right to know what potential threats lurk about and what to do if they feel threatened. Itâ€™s difficult and painful to acknowledge that there are people around who want to harm children. â€œTalking to children about certain dangers to their personal safety makes many adults uneasy,â€ said Sheriff Reuel A. Todd of Oswego County. â€œHowever, as adults, it is our obligation to talk to our children to teach them how to protect themselves.â€
â€œTeach children how to operate the telephone to call for emergency assistance,â€ added Sheriff Todd. They should know how to dial â€œ0,â€ â€œ911,â€ or other emergency numbers used in your area. Have them memorize their area code and phone number, and maybe a friendâ€™s number as well.
â€œWhile it is important for a child to know how to recognize and avoid danger, it is also critical for a child to know how to respond quickly and wisely when confronted with trouble,â€ says Sheriff Todd. Children should understand that there are many people they can depend on and should turn to when they feel unsafe. â€œItâ€™s important to teach children that the police are friends whose job it is to protect them,â€ said the Sheriff. Itâ€™s also important to let children know that they should seek out a trusted teacher, a neighbor, or a friendâ€™s parent if a police officer canâ€™t easily be located.
Here are a few things your children should know to boost their confidence in recognizing potential danger and to build self-assurance to know how to protect themselves:
Do not go out alone. Always take a friend with you. There is safety in numbers. If someone you donâ€™t know tries to take you somewhere, quickly get away from them and yell out that this person is not your parent and that theyâ€™re trying to hurt you. If someone tries to grab you, make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.
You should never get into a vehicle or go anywhere with any person unless your parents or guardians have told you it is okay to do so on that day.
Teach your children that no one should approach or touch them in a way that makes them feel scared, confused, or uncomfortable. If someone does, teach your child that itâ€™s okay to tell you and encourage them to do so immediately.
You should not get close to any vehicle, unless your parent, guardian, or a trusted adult accompanies you. Do not get close to a car if someone calls out to you for directions or anything else. It is easy to be pulled into a vehicle. If someone follows you in a vehicle, stay away from them and go in the opposite direction.
If someone is following you on foot, run away as fast as you can and tell a trusted adult what happened.
If someone wants to take your picture, tell them no and then tell your parents, guardians, or other trusted adults about what just happened.
If you are in a public place, and you get separated from your parents or guardians, donâ€™t wander around looking for them. Go to a uniformed police or security officer, store salesperson or person in the information booth with a nametag, or a mother with children, and quickly tell the person you have lost your family and need help finding them.
Never accept rides, candy, gifts, money, or medicine from someone you donâ€™t know and trust.
Protect yourself by never giving your name, address or what school you attend to someone you donâ€™t know.
Never open the door to anyone you donâ€™t know or let callers know you are home alone. Instead, say Mom or Dad canâ€™t come to the phone and you will have one of them call back.
Teach your children to trust their own feelings, and assure them they have the right to say no to what they sense is wrong.
â€œNo one likes to think about all possible threats to a childâ€™s personal safety and well-being,â€ concluded the Sheriff, â€œbut a safe child is one who knows what to do when trouble happens, and youâ€™ll feel better knowing they know how to cope when youâ€™re not around.â€