This is a sponsored guest post.
Parenting today is a nightmare. There are so many dangers and negative influences out there that it is a nightmare how parents cope. A lot of problems arise when children befriend total strangers. Do you know who your child is interacting with on a daily basis offline or online?
But, as parents we need to be a little bit more specific with our kids than just telling them “don’t talk to strangers”, we need to make them aware that sometimes the stranger can be someone who lives just a couple of doors down. It could be someone in a grocery store or even someone at school or another friend’s parents. We want to make sure that our kids are very aware of what goes on in our community. Though it’s highly unlikely that your child will be abducted, we still need them to be aware, not necessarily afraid, but aware that there is a danger.
Dangerous that strangers typically present to children are three main items; abduction, injury, and assault. Children are taken from school bus stops, from their homes, and from stores. Injuries that can occur are both physical and sexual injuries that go along with assault. However, in order to enhance security measures, security camera installation can serve beneficial.
Children of All Ages Are at Risk
Children at risk for stranger danger are really children of all ages. Abductions have happened from infants all the way up to the teen years, so we want to make sure that your children are aware of the dangers that strangers pose. Even when we think they’re too old to talk about stranger danger.
As far as potential abductors go, we’re talking about both men and women. Though the media portrays strangers and people who abduct children as men, women are also abductors. In fact, according to the FBI, kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or “acquaintance kidnapping” comprises almost a third of all kidnappings and most acquaintance kidnappers are women.
Prepare Your Children
To help your children determine between who is a stranger and who’s a friend, especially when we’re talking about pickups after school or sporting events or activities. You want to tell the child that person’s name specifically, perhaps what they look like, what kind of car they drive and even develop a code word that the adult can share with your child so they know exactly who is supposed to be picking them up. One good way to educate your child on the danger of talking to strangers is by using a video game. There are numerous video games and interactive lessons available as mobile apps such as Mage.
Some additional things that you can talk to your children about are never accepting gifts from a stranger, never accepting a ride in a car, even if it’s raining. Children should never talk to someone who makes them uncomfortable. And, if a stranger does make them uncomfortable or come up to them, they should be trained to find a trusted adult such as a police officer, a security guard or someone at a grocery store or shopping center that has a name tag on.
A discussion on child safety would be incomplete without discussing the Internet. In today’s world, if you have children, chances are they’ve been on the Internet. Have you had the talk with your kids? Not the one about the birds and the bees…the one about being safe online.
Look into your child’s social media friends. Do they have friends that they aren’t even aware of? Does your child post stuff they shouldn’t? Do they know posts can last forever, even after deleting them? Teach your kids about privacy settings and not to post mindlessly. Information such as their name, age or location should be closely guarded.
Online gaming is one avenue people with evil intentions try to get personal information from your kids, so be wary.
Teach your children about using strong passwords. They should use a different password for every website or email address. Strong passwords should have at 10 to 12 characters which are a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. One of the best ways to come up with a strong and memorable password is to think about a passphrase. The only caveat is that the passphrase should not be a famous quote, music, lyrics or contain private information such as birthdays or addresses. And, most importantly your kids should never share their password with anyone.
Are your kids participating in cyberbullying or are they victims of it. Do they know how to recognize the signs of cyberbullying and do they know they should report it to you immediately?
Be careful with smartphones. Some apps have access to too many phone features even when they don’t need to in order to operate. Teach your kids to check the permissions needed by each app they download. Additionally, while GPS is a handy tool to navigate and find stores, it can also be used to find your child. Teach your child to switch off GPS when not in use and to avoid location check-ins at social media sites.
Explain to your child the dangers of sexting. This includes saving sexually explicit media or messages. Their reputation and friendships could be irreversibly ruined.
Last but not least, Internet security should become a habit in the home. Enable firewalls even on mobile devices. Update your operating systems and apps. Teach your children about malware, insecure wifi, and phishing and how to spot an insecure website.
What To Do If Your Child Is Approached Or Taken
One of the ways to put your mind to ease if you find out that your child is interacting, offline or online, with somebody who makes you uncomfortable is to use a background check website such as Nuwber.com. With such as service, you can use the person’s name, phone number or address to run a background check on them. The background check would give you a heap of information such as police records, lawsuits, property ownership, and much more.
If your child is taken by a stranger, first and foremost, to reach out to the police department. Call 911 immediately. Gather as much information as you can such as the type of clothing that the person was wearing, any marks, scars and tattoos, their hairstyle, hair color, type of car they got into, color or the car and any other pertinent information you can think about. Have a current picture of your child in your wallet or purse at all times, including your child’s height, age, weight, hair, and eye color. This is all important information that will assist the police department to find your child faster.