Approximately 800,000 children are reported to be abducted each year in the US. It is horrible to think about, but children are among the most vulnerable in our society, making them prime targets for human trafficking and other odious motives. So how can you protect them? Here are 10 tips for parents to ensure their children’s safety.
1. Get your child the WatchPhone.
The WatchPhone is essentially a hybrid of a smartphone and wristwatch. Specially created for kids, it allows parents to keep in touch with their children easily. Parents can call or message their children with the 3G-compatible WatchPhone. They will also be able to know the exact location of their children, thanks to the highly accurate GPS positioning system fully integrated into the WatchPhone. The Geo-Fencing function alerts you if your child exceeds the boundaries of the preset area. Most importantly, the WatchPhone’s One-Touch SOS function lets the child send a distress signal through an integrated SOS button. The parent will be notified on their phone immediately.
2. Keep your children in sight.
This may seem like redundant advice but you’d be surprised at how many parents neglect to keep their children in sight constantly. Do not let your child out of your peripheral vision. All it takes are seconds to kidnap a child. Keep your child close by within reach. Opt for a baby carrier or a baby harness when shopping. Also, do not leave your baby unattended in a stroller or a vehicle! Never let a stranger hold your baby too.
3. Be aware of the surroundings.
Being aware can make a world of difference, especially in places where children like to gather and play. Keep an eye out for neighbourhood notices regarding crimes involving children or when a sexual offender moves into your neighbourhood. Older children should be encouraged to be cautious and trust their own intuition if they spot anything odd.
4. Set up emergency plans.
Always identify the nearest information centers and police stations while out with your children. Tell them where to go and what to do in case of an emergency or if they get lost. Have a neighborhood meeting so that children know safe houses in the neighborhood where they can run to for help. Make and practice safety plans. Talk with kids about who they could get help from everywhere they go. Remind kids that while adults such as store owners and cashiers are strangers too, they will help in an emergency. By practicing with them, kids gain more confidence in taking charge of their own safety if you get separated from them.
5. Put up a fight.
Explore age-appropriate self-defense training programs. Teach your child to struggle and try their best to escape especially in the first few hours. For example, children who are being led away by hand can use the windmill technique. By rotating their arms in a big circle, children can prevent the attacker from getting a good grip. Tell your kids to hold tightly onto whatever’s within grabbing distance if someone is trying to drag them away. Resistance makes it harder to disengage them in an attempted abduction.
6. Be proactive in escaping from strangers’ cars.
Teach your child to not be passive if they are led into a car by strangers. By jumping in the backseat and trying the door quickly in a four-door car, the child’s chances of escape are quite high. If they are placed in a trunk instead, they should look for a panel in the trunk that comes right out when pulled. Tear the wires to the tail-lights and brakes. This increases the chances of the car being pulled over by police.
7. Keep an ID kit.
Include a physical description, the child’s nickname, identifying features, medical information and an up-to-date high-quality photo. Be sure to take your kits with you on trips and vacations. You may want to have your children fingerprinted and keep updated dental records. These records will definitely facilitate police investigations.
8. Teach kids to get help.
It has been proven that contrary to popular belief, children are infinitely more likely to be harmed by someone they know instead of a stranger. Helping them build the habit of talking with you about problems will help keep them safe. Make sure your children know their full name, your full name, phone number, and address. This will make it easier for them to seek help in contacting you. Practise with them so that they know how to call and ask for help. They should learn to talk to a police dispatcher and provide the necessary details.
9. Teach kids about personal information.
Define personal information for your children and the appropriate context for them to share information with strangers. For example, kids can provide their home number when they’re lost and need help. Make sure they know not to give personal information to stranger without checking first with adults responsible for their safety. Teach children to walk away confidently and without engaging if a stranger starts asking about their personal information.
10. Make a lot of noise.
Teach children to use their voices and bodies to get away when they feel unsafe. Explain that using their voice can get the attention of people who can help you. Have children practice yelling “NO!” or “STOP!” as loudly as they can. A good commotion can scare an abductor and hence turn the tables on them by attracting as much attention as possible.
The most important thing parents can do is to communicate openly with their children at home. Cultivate a home atmosphere in which kids feel comfortable sharing what is going on in their life. Teach your children how to say no and to alert you when they don’t feel safe. Remember, above all else, safety first. Prevention is the key.