If you live in the NYC metro area – as I do – you’ve undoubtedly seen it on the news. It’s a terrifying story that’s been the lead on the local TV news, newspapers and websites for the past two weeks. As of this post, there have been an alarming nine “luring” attempts of elementary and high school students in Northern New Jersey area.
Towns, schools and local police have done a good job about getting the word out about these attempts, sketches of the suspect(s) and suggestions on how to talk to your kids about it.
It’s so important to talk to and coach your kids how to avoid danger, but without scaring them with images of creepy people lurking behind every tree. It’s a fine line – you want them to understand the seriousness, but also don’t want them to be afraid to go anywhere.
The Hubs and I spoke with our son (who just started kindergarten). Our local police had already begun the conversation for us by hosting an assembly this past Friday focusing on “Stranger Danger.” We talked with our son about it and we even role played with it. We’re also making sure to talk about it every day with him, but in a non-alarming way – just reviewing the things he should do if a stranger comes up to him.
Here are some tips culled together from several official police organizations for keeping your elementary to teenaged kids safe yet unafraid:
- Always tell your parents where you are going.
- Don’t walk anywhere alone. Walk with a friend or even better, stay with a group.
- Don’t take shortcuts through the woods, a back street or empty lot.
- Bad people do not always look mean or scary.
- Do not get close to strangers. Make sure you have room to run.
- Don’t ever tell your name or address to a stranger.
- Never go anywhere with a stranger, whether it be to help look for a lost pet or play a game.
- Never accept things (candy, money, a book) from a stranger.
- Never get into a car with anyone you don’t know. If they offer you a ride, say “NO!” and stay away from their car.
- If a stranger bothers you or you see a stranger hanging around the school, playground or public bathroom, run away and tell a trusted adult.
- Know safe places you can go – a police or fire station, the library, a store or a friend’s house.
- If a stranger follows you, try to get away from them as quickly as possible. If they grab for you, yell loud – repeatedly! Shout, “HELP!” or “I DON’T KNOW YOU!” or “NO!” or “LEAVE ME ALONE!” Make as much noise as you can and fight back.
- Talk to your parents and come up with a secret code word. Make sure it is a special word that you don’t share with your friends, but use only with a trusted adult. Never go with anyone unless they know the secret code word.
- Know how and when to call 911.
- Never tell anyone on the phone if you are at home alone.
- Never tell any callers your name, number or address.
- Hang up right away if you do not like what someone is saying on the phone.
Also, here’s a useful tip for parents. Always have an updated photo of your child. On the back put important information such as, name, date of birth, height, weight, and hair and eye color that you can give to school officials or authorities if needed.
Now it’s your turn to share. How do you talk your children about “stranger danger?”
Copyright © 2012 The Harried Mom. All Rights Reserved.