Jun 262013

By Linda Kor
It’s summer and that means kids will be out and about, visiting friends, going to the pool and playing outside. Most parents have busy schedules and that means that kids often do these activities on their own. Make sure your kids stay safe by following these basic guidelines.
Whenever kids go out, make sure they’re not alone; always have them take a friend along. Let them know that they do not need to be polite in a threatening situation. Tell them to trust their instincts if someone makes them uncomfortable and tries to touch or grab them by running, kicking and screaming, and finding a safe place. Talk to kids openly about safety, and let them know its OK to talk about things that make them sad or uncomfortable. Be involved with your kids in their activities and know who they spend time with. Do reference checks on babysitters, daycare providers and anyone kids are left with. Identify areas where known sex offenders reside through the Department of Public Safety Sex Offender InfoCenter website at http://www.azdps.gov/Services/Sex_Offender/.
A survey of more than 8,000 attempted abductions conducted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) found that 40 percent of them involved children between the ages of 10 and 14, over 70 percent involved the suspect driving a vehicle and 83 percent involved a child who did something proactive to escape the would be abductor, including physically getting away, yelling and screaming, and attracting the attention of other people.
NCMEC urges parents to pay close attention to where their kids will be this summer and with whom they will be in contact. They ask that parents not confuse their kids with the concept of what a “stranger” is. The “stranger-danger” message is not effective, as danger to children is often much greater from someone they or you know. Let kids know they need to get out of potentially dangerous situations quickly, no matter who the person is that makes them uncomfortable.
Parents are the best resource for safeguarding their children. Stay alert, informed and focused about personal security issues. Being available and taking time to really know and listen to children helps build feelings of safety and security.
For more child safety tips, visit the NCMEC site at http://www.missingkids.com/home.