Family Safety Week is upon us, and while we are giving you these tips on how to protect your little ones today, they should most certainly be kept in mind for the rest of the year.
1. Stopping conversations and staying at a distance.
A child should be aware that she/he doesn't have to speak to people they do not know, therefore, if the conversation goes on for more than 5-7 seconds, they should leave and find a safe area. For the remainder of a conversation, a child should try and remain at a distance of around 6.5-8 ft. If a stranger attempts to get nearer, its essential to take a step back. Perform this scenario with your son/daughter. Emphasise that a distance of 6.5 feet must be kept and show her/him how wide this is.
2. Avoiding going in the lift with strangers
When waiting for the lift, children should be taught to stand with his/her back against the wall in order to see anyone walking toward them. If someone they do not know approaches, your child should come up with an excuse not to go into the lift with them. Some good excuses include pretending to have forgotten or walking to the toilets. If the stranger insists that the child come into the lift, the child should reply politely that they are only allowed to take the lift alone or with friends. Make it known to your child that if a stranger attempts to pull her/him into the lift or gag her/his mouth, they must scream, fight and bite until someone hears and comes to the rescue.
3. Not meeting friends made online in person
Your child should be made aware that, in the present day, criminals are easily able to find their next victim through the Internet. Therefore, if someone online says that he is an 11-year-old boy called Jamie, this may not necessarily be true. Your child should know to never inform strangers, not even children, her/his telephone number, name or address. They should also never send personal photos to people they meet online, or let them know whereabouts they live. And they should never meet them in person.
4. Never informing strangers that their parents are not around.
Tell your child that a stranger should not be made aware when you/their other parent is away - even is the stranger claims to be a plumber/cleaner etc. or a friend of your parents. If an attempt to break in is made, the child should call their neighbours or parents immediately.
5. Shouting "I don't know him/her!"
Your child should be told that, when a stranger grabs them in anyway, it is perfectly okay to "misbehave" and that they should. They should sick, scream, bite and go to any length to get other people's attention, even if the situation is very terrifying. Shouting at the top of their voice "I don't know him/her! They're trying to take me!" is an effective way of doing this.
6. Installing tracking apps
Courtesy of having a GPS function, apps such as these enable you to track the specific location of your child and the charge level of her/his mobile device. Try GPS Phone Tracker or Life360 Locator.
7. Coming up with a family password
If a stranger says to your child "Come with me, I'm picking you up today!", your child should respond along the lines of "What are the names of my parents? And what's our family password?". If you and child invent together a secret phrase for certain situations, something unexpected like "Purple Elephant", and ask a friend to collect your child from school/a club, they'll know the person is safe if you've given them the password.