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Safety Tips for Back to School

Here in North Carolina, school is back in session. After a fun and relaxing summer, and weeks of shopping and haircuts, there’s one last bit of business that needs to be addressed:  Safety.

According to the Rocky Mount Telegram, police want to remind parents about some general safety steps to make part of your family’s routine:

AT HOME

  • Tell children never to give the impression they are home alone to anyone over the phone or in person.
  • Always lock doors and windows, even if you are just going to be gone for a few minutes dropping off a child for school.
  • Teach children about dialing 911 in case of an emergency.

AROUND TOWN

  • Show children safe places to go along their walking route to school in case they are being followed or need help.
  • Be cautious of putting a child’s name in a visible spot, such as on the child’s bookbag or lunchbox because an abductor might use that information to develop a sense of trust with the child.

ABOUT STRANGERS

  • Teach children to trust their instincts, including saying “no.”
  • Discuss strangers with children, including some of the ploys they might use.
  • Take notice of lurking strangers or cars driving slowly through the neighborhood and report them to police with as many details as possible.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, some of the ploys strangers might use are:

  • A nice-looking stranger approaches your child in the park and asks for help finding the stranger’s lost dog.
  • A woman who lives in your neighborhood but that the child has never spoken to invites your child into her house for a snack.
  • A stranger asks if your child wants a ride home from school.
  • Your child thinks he or she is being followed.
  • An adult your child knows says or does something that makes him or her feel bad or uncomfortable.
  • While your child is walking home from a friend’s house, a car pulls over and a stranger asks for directions.

“STRANGER DANGER” AND McGRUFF the CRIME DOG

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, which created the character of McGruff the Crime Dog, parents should educate kids that:

A stranger is a person whom you have never met. You may have seen the person before but don’t know anything about him or her. Strangers don’t look like monsters, aliens, or the bad guys you see on TV. They look like ordinary people.

Most strangers are nice, but some are not. You can’t tell if a stranger is nice or not by looking at him or her. But you can tell if a situation is good or bad.

What should kids do? McGruff says:

  • Be aware of dangerous situations. If a stranger asks you for help or to keep a “special secret,” it could be a dangerous situation. Say no and tell a trusted adult.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel scared or uncomfortable, get away from the situation. Make an excuse or just run away, and go to a safe place.
  • Know what to do. Think No, Go, Yell, Tell. If you’re in a dangerous situation, say no, run away, yell as loud as you can, and tell an adult.
  • Ask your parents first. If a stranger invites you to go somewhere, offers you a gift, or just wants to talk, say you need to ask your parents for permission first. Then go do it.
  • Stick with friends. It’s always safer to play in a group

(That’s the version written for kids. For more info about how adults can explain “strangers” to children, go here:  What to Teach Kids About Strangers)

The McGruff website has more great information for kids, including stories about how McGruff deals with strangers, safety games (including mazes, trivia, jigsaw puzzles, card-match, and word search), comic books, and more! When presented calmly, this information can make children safety-smart, not fearful.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO

The National Crime Prevention Council provides some additional safety tips for adults, in addition to teaching children how to recognize and handle dangerous situations and strangers:

  • Know where your children are at all times. Make it a rule that your children must ask permission or check in with you before going anywhere. Give your children your work and cell phone numbers so they can reach you at all times.
  • Point out safe places. Show your children safe places to play, safe roads and paths to take, and safe places to go if there’s trouble.
  • Teach children to trust their instincts. Explain that if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable, they should get away as fast as they can and tell an adult. Tell them that sometimes adults they know may make them feel uncomfortable, and they should still get away as fast as possible and tell another adult what happened. Reassure children that you will help them when they need it.
  • Teach your children to be assertive. Make sure they know that it’s okay to say no to an adult and to run away from adults in dangerous situations.
  • Encourage your children to play with others. There’s safety in numbers!

HensonFuerst wishes kids and parents a happy, healthy, and safe back-to-school week!

SOURCES OF INFORMATION

Rocky Mount Telegram article: http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/police-offer-tips-safe-start-school-year-23066

National Crime Prevention Council: http://www.ncpc.org/

McGruff’s site for kids: http://www.mcgruff.org/

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