Child Safety

Would Your Child Know What To Do If:

  • He got lost at a shopping mall
  • A nice, friendly stranger offered her a ride home after school
  • A babysitter wanted to play a secret game that no one would know about
  • A friend dared him to hitchhike

Start with the basics

  • Rehearse with your child his or her full name, address, and phone number including area code, and how to make emergency phone calls from home and public phones. Practice on an unplugged phone
  • Teach your child to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if you become separated in a store or shopping mall. Tell them never to go into the parking lot alone. And when possible, accompany your child to the restroom
  • Tell your child never to accept gifts or rides from someone he or she does not know well. Your child should never go anywhere with another adult, even one who says you have sent him or her. Adopt a family code word to be used if you have to ask a third party to pick up your child and make sure your child knows never to hitchhike
  • Teach your children that no one, not even someone they know, has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Tell them they have the right to say "NO" to an adult in this situation.

At School or at Play

  • Walk the neighborhood with your child. Pick out the safest route to school and friends' houses. Avoid danger spots like alleys and wooded areas. Identify safe places to go in an emergency, like a neighbor's house, a block parent, McGruff House, or an open store.
  • Encourage your children to walk and play with friends, not alone, and to stay in well-lighted open areas where others can see them. Teach your child to walk confidently and stay alert to what's going on
  • Don’t hang a house key to a child's neck. It's a telltale sign that you won't be home when they return from school. Put it inside a pocket or sock.
  • Encourage your child to look out for other kids' safety and to stay away from strangers who hang around playgrounds, public restrooms and empty buildings. A stranger is someone the child doesn't know well. Teach your child to remember and report to you the license numbers of people who offer rides, hang around playgrounds, or appear to follow them. If a stranger tries to follow or grab your child, teach him or her to scream "Stay away from me" or "This person is trying to hurt me" and run to the nearest place where people are around.

At The Home

  • Make sure your children reach you by telephone, wherever you are. Have your child check in with you at work or with a neighbor when she or he gets home
  • Caution your children about answering the phone and accidentally letting a stranger know he or she is alone. The child should say that parents are busy and take a message
  • Put important phone numbers near all your home phones: Police, Fire, Emergency, Poison Control Center, Mom and Dad at work, Neighbor
  • Agree on rules for having friends over or going to someone's house when no adult is present
  • Work out an escape plan in case of fire
  • Tell your child never to open the door to a stranger when home alone. Teach your child how to work door and window locks

Tips on Choosing Daycare Centers/Babysitters

  • Find out as much as you can about the caretaker's reputation and whether there have been any complainants in the past. Is the caretaker licensed or regulated in any way? What are their qualifications? Have background checks been made? Have you asked for or checked references?
  • Drop in unannounced, periodically, to ensure that quality of care meets your standards. Observe how the children relate to the caretakers
  • Ask about the philosophy and practice of discipline. And then ask your child the same questions
  • Make sure there is ongoing parent involvement. Compare notes with other parents. And, most important, talk with your child daily about how things are going and investigate problems that worries you or becomes chronic.