School is back in session. Sports are gearing back up. New school supplies, backpacks and uniforms are often fun and exciting but can also endanger your child. Some times it is what is in your child’s closet that can place him or her in danger.
Personalized backpacks, book bags, shirts and jewelry are the rage. Yet, wearing your name on your jacket or lunch box can endanger young children and even teens. If you must put your child’s name on his or her backpack, clothing, or other items write or have the name embroidered on the inside of the object. School IDs are now required in most high schools but outside of the school teach your teen to tuck the ID inside a jacket or shirt.
When someone appears to know your first name it can be disconcerting and unsettling. It makes the person wonder where they know the other person from. Using a child’s first and especially last name can confuse a child into letting his or her guard down believing the person who spoke his or her name must be someone the family knows and therefore not someone to be concerned about.
Girls have sparkly necklaces and bracelets that spell out there name. Yet that same glittery jewelry tells the man at the store or on the street an opening to begin a conversation with your child.
The same goes for scout uniforms and sports uniforms. Ask the coach if using a number is possible rather than a first name or even worse a last name. Imagine all the eyes at the local ball park during your child’s last game. Anyone can write down a last name and check the local listings for a similar last name. Imagine getting a phone call asking for your child by name to learn later that the person calling was a stranger.
Be cautious of how drawings and other contests display your child’s name. Recently in a local restaurant of a major interstate were children’s pictures on display all around the top of the restaurant. It was a nice idea for the restaurant to support the local artistic talent with a holiday coloring contest. The only problem was at the bottom of every picture the child’s full name, address, age, and telephone number was clearly visible to everyone.
A gentle request to two different managers to bend the bottoms up under the picture was met with disinterest and a sense of being overprotective. So, I sat and wrote names, addresses and phone numbers in a note book and went home and began calling the parents to tell them who I was and that all of their child or children’s information was visible to every Tom, Dick or Harry passing through our town on the interstate.
Many parents expressed shock and disbelief that anyone could know all the information about their child. Others simply did not care and were downright rude when I called. The point being that we need to consider when our child’s personal information is visible to the world and protect their name and information as we protect them. You never know who is watching and waiting to prey on a child.