Have you talked to your children about how to escape a child predator? Talking to children is one of the most important aspects of parenting. As parents it is easy to assume our children know what to do in certain situations, but unless that specific situation is discussed one cannot be sure. Children need to know that grownups should not ask children for directions, or for help finding a lost animal, or offer to give them anything like money, candy or gifts.
Children need to know if approached by an adult in a vehicle that they should throw down anything they are carrying and run fast like the wind in the opposite direction the vehicle is facing. Explain that although as parents we are constantly telling them not to lose their things that we never want them to take a chance on being caught by someone because of a heavy book bag. Books and bags can be replaced, unlike children.
If a child is grabbed by a stranger, teach them to hit, kick, and bite the sensitive areas on a body. If the kidnapper loses their grip tell the child to run to a nearby home and while knocking on the door say stranger danger. If placed inside a car trunk, every child needs to know there is an emergency release latch to open the car trunk from the inside.
Teach children early their home address; date of birth, and a parentís cell phone number. In addition to teaching children how to dial 911 on a land line, a child must be taught how to dial out on a cell phone. There is a different process to dialing on a cell phone versus a land line, as the send button must be pushed to complete the call. Help a child to understand that pay phones can be used to dial 911 without any money.
Children should always give 911 operators their name and tell them they have been taken by a stranger. If a child does not know their location, tell them to describe what they see to the operator. If possible they can go outside and look at the mailbox or house number. Have them describe what the color of the house is and to describe any cars in the driveway. Are there any other significant landmarks around?
If in a public place and separated from a parent or safe adult children should approach someone who is wearing a store name tag, or another parent with children, preferably a mother or grandmother. The child needs to inform them they need help, and ask the grown up to call their parentís cell phone number. Teaching a child momís cell phone number versus the home number is a personal preference, however, my sister was the one who said if I am out somewhere and I am separated from my child, I will have my cell phone with me.
Talking to as child about how to respond to an emergency situation will help them know what to do if they are faced with a similar situation. If we do not talk to our children we can be sure of only one thing, that we do not know how they will react in an emergency. Role playing is invaluable to our children.