With the recent rash of attempted abductions in the Fredericksburg area, teaching children how to be safer needs to be at the top of parents' priority lists. An analysis by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children of attempted abductions during the past five years found that children are at most risk when going to and from school or school related activities1.
Parents and other adults can help keep children safe by following these ten tips2:
- Teach your children to always TAKE A FRIEND with them when walking or biking, and stay with a group while standing at the bus stop. Make sure they know which bus to ride.
- Walk the route to and from school with your children pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they're being followed or need help. Teach your children they should NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS and always stay in well-lit areas.
- It is not safe for young children to walk to and from school, even in a group. Parents should always provide supervision for young children to help ensure their safe arrival to and from school. If your children wait for a bus, wait with them or make arrangements for supervision at the bus stop.
- Teach your children that if anyone bothers them, makes them feel scared or uncomfortable to trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person. Teach them it is ok not to be polite and IT IS OK TO SAY NO.
- Teach your children if anyone tries to take them somewhere they should RESIST by kicking and screaming, try to run away and DRAW ATTENTION by kicking and screaming "This person is trying to take me away" or "This person is not my father/mother."
- Teach your children NOT TO ACCEPT A RIDE from anyone unless you have said it is ok in that instance. If anyone follows them in a vehicle they should turn around, go in the other direction, and run to a trusted adult who may help them.
- Teach your children that grownups should NOT ASK CHILDREN FOR DIRECTIONS, they should ask other adults.
- Teach your children to NEVER ACCEPT MONEY OR GIFTS from anyone unless you have told them it is ok to accept in each instance.
- Make sure the school has current and accurate emergency contact information on file for your children and confirm names of those authorized.
- Always know where your children will be. Teach your children to always CHECK FIRST before changing their plans before or after school. Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they CHECK FIRST with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency.
Children should be taught to trust their feelings. They need to know that if someone makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused, they should tell a parent, guardian, or trusted adult.
1Data is based on National Center for Missing & Exploited Children analysis of 4,202 attempted abductions confirmed with law enforcement across the U.S. spanning a period from February 2005 – March 2010.
2Tips are adapted from Know the Rules…For Going To and From School More Safely. Copyright © 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2009 National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). All rights reserved.