There’s no “How To” more important than that of keeping our kids safe. It’s an unfortunate truth: more than ever, kids need their parents to help them stay safe from sexual predators – every day, everywhere. Ultimately, open communication with you is your child’s best protection from those that would do him or her harm. From the AmberWatch Foundation’s “Be Safe!” program, here are some tips to keep in mind.
On the Internet
The Internet is one of the fastest growing environments in which children and teenagers are being lured by predators. Without realizing it, kids give away personal information and open their lives up to strangers they believe to be other kids or harmless adults. So while the little ones are playing online games and the older ones are doing research for school or spending time on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace, predators are finding inroads and trying to make contact with them. As a parent of an Internet-using child or teenager, you should:
• Implement customizable parental control software on the computer that your child uses. Set it to block websites containing certain words or images, filter out dangerous content, and alert you to where your children are going and with whom they are conversing while they are online. Note: AmberWatch® Lookout does all this, with portions of proceeds going to fund the education work of the AmberWatch Foundation. Find out more by visiting www.AmberWatchLookout.com.
• Tell your kids that while they are online, they should never give out their name, age, address, phone number, or any other personal information.
• Put the computer in a “public” space in the house rather than letting your children keep Internet-connected computers in their bedrooms.
Teach your kids smart safety measures to follow when they are home alone. Your kids should:
• Know what emergency numbers to call if they are home alone and they need help.
• Know that they can say, “No!” or “No, thank you,” if someone – even a family member or a friend – tries to touch then in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared. Teach them that their body is theirs and that no one has the right to touch them or kiss them in parts covered by a bathing suit.
Around the Neighborhood
Safety should be the first consideration when your kids are out and about, whether you are with them or not. Make sure your kids know they should:
• Never go anywhere without checking with you first.
• Not get close to any car that slows down or stops near them.
• Always take a buddy with them whenever they go out to play or walk to school.
• Always walk along well-traveled streets and follow the route that you planned out for them.
• Yell for help, fight as hard as they can, and run away if someone tries to hurt them.
For more tips and tools to keep your child safe, go to www.AmberWatchFoundation.org.