Raising Streetwise Kids

Would your child know what to do if :

  • He got lost in a shopping mall?
  • A nice looking, friendly stranger offered her a ride home after school?
  • A friend dared him to drink some beer or smoke a joint?
  • The baby-sitter or a neighbor wanted to play a secret game?

Kids have a natural trust in people, especially adults. It’s hard for parents to teach children to balance trust with caution. Kids today need to know common sense rules that can help keep them safe, and build the self confidence they will need to handle emergencies.

Start with basics

  • Children should know their full name, address and phone number with area code.
  • Teach kids to call 911 or “O” in emergencies & how to use a public phone. Practice making emergency calls using a play phone.
  • Tell them to NEVER accept rides or gifts from someone they don’t know well.
  • Teach children to go to a store clerk, security guard or Police Officer if they get lost in a mall or store on the street.
  • Set a good example with your actions., Lock doors & windows, see who’s there before opening a door.
  • Take time to listen to your children’s fears & feelings about people or places that scare them, or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts.

At school & play

  • Encourage kids to walk & play with friends, not alone, and avoid places that could be dangerous. (alleys, vacant buildings, parks with broken equipment)
  • Teach kids to settle arguments with words, not fists, & walk away from others who argue. Remind them that taunting & teasing can hurt friends & make enemies.
  • Teach kids to take a safe route from school, stores, friends houses. Show them the way.
  • Teach kids to be alert, and to tell an adult, teacher, neighbor, or Police Officer about something that is not right.
  • Check out school policy on absent students. Are the parents called?
  • Check out daycare & after school programs. Look at certifications, staff qualifications, rules on permission for field trips, reputation in the community, policies & parent visits. AT HOME ALONE
  • Leave a phone number where you can be reached. Post it by the phone. with numbers for a neighbor & emergencies, Police & Fire Depts., paramedics & poison center.
  • Have the kids check in with you or a neighbor when they get home. Set rules for having friends over and going to a friend’s house.
  • Make sure your child knows how to use the window & door locks.
  • Tell the child never to let anyone in the house without your permission, & never let a caller at the door or phone know that there is NO ADULT AT HOME. Kids can say their parents are busy & take a message.
  • Work out an escape plan in case of fire or other emergencies. Rehearse it with the kids.

Protecting your child against sexual abuse

  • Let your children know that they can tell you anything, and that you’ll be supportive.
  • Teach kids that no-one, not even a teacher or close relative, has the right to them in a way that feel uncomfortable, and it’s OK to say NO, get away, tell a trusted adult.
  • Don’t force kids to kiss or hug, or sit in a grown-up’s lap if they don’t want to. This gives them control and teaches them that they have the right to refuse.
  • Always know where your children are, or who they are with.
  • Tell kids to stay away from strangers who are around playgrounds, restrooms, schools.
  • Be alert for changes in the child’s behavior. This could signal sexual abuse such as sudden secretiveness, withdrawal from activities, refusal to go to school, unexplained hostility toward a baby-sitter or relative, or increased anxiety. Some physical signs of abuse include bedwetting, loss of appetite, venereal disease, nightmares, complaints of pain or irritation around the genitals.
  • If your child has been sexually abused, report it to the Police and child protection agency immediately.