Keeping our youth safe these days is not as easy today as it was 50 years ago. With the development of technology and culture, it can be challenging on parents and guardians to keep track of our little ones. Here are critical child safety tips for parents that will help you navigate these conversations with the youth in your life.
Important tips to keep kids safe
Most importantly we must establish trust with our little ones at an early age. They should feel safe talking to you about anything and everything. As they grow older and begin to head out of the nest with their friends it is important that we have taught them how to properly check for vehicles before crossing the street, using a designated crosswalk. We must lead by example on this and always use a crosswalk when we are with our children. Do not leave your children with anyone that you do not totally trust.
- It is important to keep up with and check the public sex offender registry list here. Take your children on a walking tour of your neighborhood and explain to them which homes they can visit without you and which homes they must avoid.
- Establish the “Trusted Adults” in your circle that your kids can trust. Teach your kids how to call their trusted adult(s) and how to call 911 for emergencies only.
- Teach them to ask you before leaving home. Asking permission will make you privy to their whereabouts and keep you informed to their plans. If they establish friend’s they visit make sure to connect with the friend’s parent or guardian in case of an emergency when your child is visiting the friend, you can reach your child.
- Instill in your kids to abide by the buddy system. Stay with a friend whenever they are going somewhere or to play outside.
- Teach your children to memorize their full names, home address and your phone number. They should also know their parent or guardian’s full name.
- Instruct children to keep the doors closed and locked when they are home alone. Do not open the door for anyone that is not a Trusted Adult.
- Establish rules with your children about having visitors over when you’re not home.
- Get a FREE Kids Identity Kit from any Fingerprinting Express location while supplies last. Kids Identity Kits should include the child’s fingerprints, DNA and the child’s personal data. It is important to have your child’s biometric data on file. This can identify them as an adult if needed.
- If your child has a phone make sure you have a family locator feature enabled or find my iPhone feature to track them in case they are missing.
- Never leave a child in a vehicle unsupervised, even if the vehicle is idling and even if the weather conditions permit.
- Take an active role in their lives and activities.
- Most social media sites have an age minimum use around 13 years.
Times have changed, even in the last decade, with technology rapidly advancing. Children in today’s world are practically born into the world with a device in their hand. Children often know more about technology than parents do making it even more important that parents take the extra time and effort required to take responsibility for the devices, website, apps, games and other online access points their children choose to be on. Leaving this to chance or trusting websites that are “made for kids” is, unfortunately, a recipe for disaster. While it is easy in the short term to put a device in front of our children to keep them occupied and out of our hair, there are studies that suggest the addiction to technology is bad for our kids.
When my son was little, I made him earn his gaming minutes by doing chores. This helped our family to regulate time spent on technology while teaching my young son to contribute to the household chores. We made a daily chart of chores and each chore would earn him an allocated amount of minutes to spend on gaming, computers, movies and his phone. We would set a timer and when his time was up all devices were shut down. We agreed on no technology family time, like dinner with the TV off, which gave us time to talk about our day and bond.
As a parent or guardian, it is critically important to incorporate safety measures and create a dialogue with our kids on digital safety or cybersecurity. Thankfully, there are several federally funded programs to combat online safety for children. In addition, there are many great resources online. Here are a few I recommend to start:
- Cybersecurity for Children
- Stop. Think. Connect
- Concerned Parent’s Internet Safety Toolbox
Depending on the age of your child, you may find yourself adjusting your approach. One of the most important rules is communication. In addition, always be aware of who we are talking to, what we are saying and what we are sharing. We can’t control what others are doing online, but we can create our own set of rules and boundaries that keep us safe out on the worldwide web. It is also worth noting that even when things are deleted from the internet they are not deleted forever. One moment decision to post a private photo or an emotional post on social media can have a haunting effect for years to come. Placing the computer in a family area like the living room may help control what your children are doing online. There are also several software companies that offer parental control on computers. I also suggest having a family email address so that you can easily monitor your child’s virtual activity.
More so recently, our children are trusting people that friend them online. Catfishing is important to discuss with our kids as we never really know who is on the other end of the chat and not everyone is who they say they are. Predators will find the way to their prey like water- the path of least resistance. Awareness and caution can prevent your child from trusting the wrong person. Explaining the online dangers will hopefully prevent your children from winding up in a bad situation. Teach your kids never to meet a person they have met online. This is just as important as establishing the Trusted Adults and Stranger Danger.
If Your Child is Missing
Systematically look around the house for your child room by room. Check clothes piles, laundry hampers, closets, under beds, inside large appliances, vehicles even the trunk and anywhere else your child might be able to hide.
Call them if they have a cell phone.
If they were at a friend’s house try calling the friend’s parents or guardians.
If they are still not found contact your local law enforcement agency immediately and provide them with your Kid’s Identity Kit. After you contact local law enforcement we suggest you also contact the National Association for Missing and Exploited Children.
At the end of the day, we can only control certain aspects of life for ourselves and our families. Continue to expand your knowledge in this world of security as the landscape continues to evolve and change especially in the world of technology. The suggestions and resources are the things we can to keep our children’s safety front and center. If you have not already taken the time to collect some of the most important personal identity markers of your child, then be sure to stop by one of the Fingerprinting Express Stores (in Reno, Carson City or Las Vegas) to pick up your FREE Kids Identity Kit, while supplies last.
Get a FREE Kids Identity Kit from any Fingerprinting Express location today!
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