In review of this year as we approach a new year, I would like to offer some ideas on what to focus on in the days ahead. Children grow quickly and change many times throughout the year, as the New Year approaches a good habit to start is to take pictures of your children. The best practice is to take pictures every three months, more often, if there are drastic changes to appearance. Make sure to include a head to toe or full body picture, and a close up of the child’s face and any identifying marks on the body.
Keep a copy of these pictures with you if possible. Many cell phones allow you to send pictures to them. Cell phones are an asset in any outing, and if yours has a camera phone, get in the habit of taking a picture or two as you arrive at your location. This picture is priceless in the event your child disappears or is abducted. By having a current photo of your child, people assisting in the search can see what your child was wearing when he or she wandered off.
Remember to teach children your cell phone number, your first and last name, and his or her full name. Many people are blending families and your last name of Smith may differ from your child’s last name of Jones. Teach children to find another mother who has children with her to approach if he or she cannot find a store employee. Most mothers will respond to a scared and lost child.
Remind children to yell, kick, and fight anyone who attempts to take them out of a public place. I tell my children it is unlikely someone will discharge a gun and draw attention to his or her self in a populated environment. Tell children to drop everything and run like the wind.
Although rarely seen anymore there are still payphones in places like malls. Children need to know that 911 is a free call. More and more people are opting for cell phones in the home, rather than landlines. Teach children early how to dial a cell and press the send button on a cell phone, so if they only have access to one they can still call for help.
Children should never wear or carry backpacks or other items displaying his or her name, it is too easy for someone with ill intentions to use that name and make the child believe he or she knows the child from somewhere. Teach children to question any direction that makes them feel uncomfortable from authority figures like teachers, coaches, and other adults. If in doubt, the child should always check with mom or dad before doing something that makes him or her uncomfortable. Write down safe numbers and safe people the child can go to or contact in the event mom or dad is not available.
Finally,people parents may consider safe to be around their child may prove to have a dark side no one knows about, children need to be able to tell mom or dad about things that make them uncomfortable or scares, listen to what a child is telling you. Believe in your child and protect them from those that make them feel unsafe. Above all, have a safe and healthy new year.