Friday, May 22, 2009

Child Safety in the Community

Preparing children: Personal safety guidelines.

I recall teaching during 9/11. It was an elementary school. The principal came on the PA system and informed the entire school body that planes had flown into a building in the US. The panic in the school was palpable. It was a gross error in judgement. Do not scare children by telling them all the detail of these stories.

The same is true of the horrific story of Tori Stafford, abducted and murdered. Tell them that a child was hurt by someone they knew and thought they trusted. It is important that they tell someone. Most assaults and murders of children arise from abuse by a family member: a relative by birth or marriage.

In the community
Children need to be taught to disclose. Do not play alone, walk alone. They need a buddy system, to protect them.

Streetproofing

Tell your children to kick, yell, scream: "You're not my mommy/daddy! Leave me alone."

The issues
Most kids abducted by someone they know, than a true stranger. It is much less likely for a child to be taken by a total stranger. They are the ones that get the press. That said, there needs to be a
secret word between parent and child: do not go anywhere without this signal. Predators know to convince a child to help them look for a lost puppy, or some other story.

In most abductions, the 'stranger' is someone known to a family. An acquaintance, someone who has worked near or with a family. There are good strangers: people wearing uniforms, name badge, police, EMS in a location. But if someone comes for a child who may have had a vague relationship with the family, they may be able to convince a child to walk away, too. When you consider how far an adult can drive when abducting a child, it boggles the mind.

From the Toronto Star: Ontario children who have been abducted:
Emanuel Jaques, Sharin Morningstar Keenan, Christine Jessop, Nicole Morin, Alison Parrott, Andrea Atkinson, Kayla Klaudusz, Cecilia Zhang, Holly Jones. While tragic, the roll call of children who are sexually, physically, and emotionally abused far exceed these numbers. These are the cases who get the press. These stories get front page news.

What is more tragic, is that those who are abused are likely, without treatment, to become abusers.

Safety Tips from Child Find Ontario

My Smart Safety Rules (for schoolkids)
Safety Rules for Pre Schoolers
Parents Safety Rules
Safety Rules for Internet Users
Safety Guidelines for Teenagers
Amusement Park and Summer Safety Rules
Travel Safety Rules
Parents Stealing Children (Safeguards to Help Prevent Parental Child Abduction)

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