Getting Ready For Back to School Means More Than Buying Supplies
Well, the kids are getting ready to head back to school. You’re running around buying supplies, shoes and clothes, you’re getting them to the doctor for shots and physicals, you’re checking to see who their teacher will be and so much more. Not to add to your “must do” list, but there is something you cannot afford to skip when it comes to getting your child prepared for school.
First allow me to share some rather scary but nevertheless true facts as it is important to understand the reality that exists:
According to a recent report, children are at the most risk of abduction as they walk to and from school and school related activities.
- 38% of attempted abductions occur while a child is walking or riding a bicycle alone to or from school or the bus stop.
- 37% of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2 and 7pm on weekdays.
- 43% of attempted abductions involve children between the ages of 10 and 14.
- 72% of attempted abduction victims are female.
Yes, it is disturbing information, but ignoring it can have tragic consequences. You absolutely must take the time to talk with your child about the potential dangers that exist. The object is not to scare your child, but to empower him. Look at it this way, as a parent you are the first line of defense. You are going to do everything you can to protect your child from harm, to isolate him from potential dangers. Guess what? It’s impossible. As your child grows so does the need for him to make decisions… decisions that at times could literally mean the difference between life and death. While you are the first line, your child is the last line of defense, so give him all the knowledge and skill sets needed to make the best decisions possible.
You now know that a large percentage of abduction attempts happen when a child is going to and from school or the bus stop. So what can you do?
- Walk the route with your child. Point out areas which your child should avoid such as wooded areas and construction sites. Also discuss “safe” areas such as a firehouse or police substation, a neighbor you trust or even a local store where your child can go if he feels scared or needs help.
- The buddy system is a great deterrent. When several children are walking together they are less likely to be approached. So talk with other parents and establish a neighborhood group that travels together and watches out for one another.
- Teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings. You can even make it a game and allow your kids to practice noticing things and people around them whenever you are out and about. Also be sure your kids know that they can call 911 if they see something suspicious or if they feel scared. Explain that there will be someone on the other end who will help them.
- Teach your child some of the lures predators use in these scenarios like asking for help or offering the opportunity to see a puppy or kitten. Keep in mind, a predator may even be someone your child knows. Make sure your child knows that adults don’t need a child’s help and he should simply say, “I have to check first” anytime someone asks him to do anything or go anywhere.
- Have a Family Code Word. That way if you ever have to send someone to pick up your child from school or an activity or even in an emergency, all your child does is ask, “What’s the Code Word?” If the person knows the code word then your child can rest assured that you sent them.
- Make sure your child knows that if someone ever tries to force them to go somewhere, your child needs to start yelling, “THIS IS NOT MY DADDY, HELP”. That way there is no confusion and potential bystanders will know a child needs help and is not just throwing a tantrum.
Again, the goal is not to scare our kids into thinking the world around them is to be feared and avoided. We want children to be able to be kids and enjoy all the fun that entails. However as we are all too familiar, there are some dangers in the world and being aware they exist is the first step in protecting our kids.