Don't be helpful
"Kids are almost always taught to help someone in need. It's important to clarify that a child should never help an adult that they don't know," warns Michael St. John of Action Karate. "Adults should always ask other adults for help. Children need to be told that it's OK to say no if a stranger asks them for help."
Draw attention to yourself
Regardless of how prepared your child may be, there may be times when he still needs to get away. So, instead of going quietly, teach your child to draw as much attention to himself as possible. "No matter the age, act like a two-year-old," heeds Robert D. Sollars, of Sollars Security Shield. "In other words scream, yell, stomp on the attacker's feet, punch, gouge or do whatever to attract attention. This is especially true at night and if they are by themselves."
Know your safe list
"One of our biggest tips for children is about creating a 'safe list,'" shares Tracy Vega, co-founder of Simple Self Defense For Women. "This is a list of people who can interact and pick-up your children. This is extremely helpful when parents are divorced or separated and one parent is not allowed access to the child. Instead of being afraid of everyone, they simply know who they can trust."
Create a code word
Regardless of age, keep kids safe by agreeing on a secret password. "Develop a secret code word between the two of you. The word or short phrase should be something that they can remember but not commonly known to others," suggests Tonya Genison Prince, child sexual abuse prevention expert. "All adults and children who claim that they were sent by Mom and Dad should know the word — including family members and acquaintances."
"We also strongly suggest that parents refrain from writing their child's name on everything at any age," urges Vega. "You don't ever want to give a potential bad person an opening to start a conversation — and most any child will respond to an adult or authority figure that calls them by name."
Even when armed with these safety tips, the most effective way to teach your kids about stranger danger is to be repetitive. "Working with children for the past ten years... I've learned that any kind of stranger danger education needs to be reinforced at home on a regular basis," informs St. John. "It needs to be a conversation that is had as a family just as often as a parent asks 'How was your day?' It may seem repetitive, but if it's not on the top of a child's mind, he will forget." And keeping kids safe is every parent's most important priority.
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