The horror of child abductions has burgeoned as of late. The critical task now is how do we begin to talk and listen to our kids' fears about abduction? Experts suggest that parents calm children's fears and remind them that these cases are rare, and that they need not be unduly afraid.
Children, as they experience the independence of attending school, begin to test boundaries. Parents of school-age children walk that fine line between granting children enough freedom to help develop independent thinking and knowing their kids may face a situation that they cannot, yet, intellectually handle. Allowing children a voice, reassuring and teaching them about safety, is critical.
Some of the issues you may want to discuss with your children about abduction are:
- People sometimes use tricks to lure children away. Ensure that your child understands that adults should ask other adults rather than children for directions or for help in finding something, such as a lost puppy.
- If your child is in need of help, teach them to recognize "safe individuals" such as police officers, firefighters, school-crossing guards, elderly women, and adults with children.
- Encourage your child to stay with a friend whenever he or she is away from you. Many abductors will not approach a child who is not alone.
- Teach your child that if a stranger accosts her, she should yell loudly, and run away as fast as she can.
- Encourage your child to be a little suspicious of a stranger's motives. Teach him to trust his gut instincts, that is, if he is feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, he should run and seek help.
- And for children under age 5, ensure that your child memorizes his full name, address, and phone number. Teach him how to call 911 in emergency situations.
Here are some questions you may want to ask your kids:
- What should they do if a stranger asks them to get into their vehicle?
- What should they do when someone, even a relative, asks them to keep a secret or offers gifts?
"Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children." -Diana, Princess of Wales
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