The end of summer is fast approaching, and that can only mean one thing, the start of school is just around the corner for many children. One of the most important back to school safety tips a parent can implement to protect a child headed into a new school year is NEVER write a child’s name on the outside of a shirt, jacket, backpack, or lunch box. Initially this may seem like a good idea, to prevent loss of the item. In essence writing a child’s name in plain view, tells anyone who passes your child who your child is, including any local child molester that maybe watching as your student walks to or from school or stands at the bus stop. Writing a child’s first or last name on backpacks is like having a child wear a Hello my NAME is tag.
When a stranger walks up to a child, and immediately addresses the child by their name, the child can become confused. This catches the child off guard. People that know our name are not usually strangers. As the child wonders, whom this grown up is and how he or she knows their name, the stranger can use that time to make their move and convince the child he is not a stranger, making the child believe he does in fact know the child. The stranger might suggest to the child using vague wording that he works with the child’s parent, is from the child’s school, is perhaps a schoolmate’s father or uncle, or lives up the street in the same neighborhood.
Another trick used by child predators to distract and confuse a child is to indicate that the last he saw Johnny (the name on the backpack) was several years ago, and wow has Johnny grown up! By telling the child that essentially he was too small to remember the last time they met, is giving the child permission to dismiss remembering the stranger. In the child’s mind, suddenly the stranger is not a stranger at all; just someone from a long time ago and the child will likely begin to let down his or her guard. This is when the possibility of the child becoming a victim of child abduction or child exploitation is a real possibility. The child is no longer listening to their sixth sense telling them there is REAL danger!
Although, personalized items are the rage today, girls like to wear personalized jewelry displaying their first name on bracelets and necklaces in sparkly and shiny ways, safety however must override vanity. Everyone likes to identify their personal property and define their personal space. To place our name on our personal items is ok in our bedroom or home setting, NOT on our purses and back packs as we are walking though malls and to and from school where every Tom, Dick and Harry child sex offender IS watching and waiting for their next victim. Please talk to your kids about the dangers of wearing personalized items, and teach them how to be safe now, before it is too late.