- Stay away from strangers. Explain to children what makes a person a stranger. Note that even someone with a familiar face is a stranger if you do not know him or her well.
- If you are scared of someone, run to safety.
- Run and scream if someone tries to force you to go somewhere with them or tries to push you into a car.
- Teach your child their full name, address and phone numbers.
- Memorize a secret code word. Tell your child not to go with anyone under any circumstances unless that person also knows this code word. Have a "Call List" of emergency contacts and make sure your child knows the numbers for who to call if they can't reach you.
- Adults shouldn't ask children for help. For example, a child shouldn't trust grown-ups who ask kids for directions or for help finding a puppy or kitten. A child who is approached in this way should tell the person, "Wait here and I'll check with my mom or dad," and then find his or her parents right away.
- Always ask for permission before going anywhere with anybody. Ask a parent or the grown-up in charge before leaving the yard or play area, or before going into someone's home. Do not accept any unplanned offers for a ride-from someone known or unknown.
- Always tell a parent where you are going, how you will get there, who is going with you, and when you will be back. Be home at the agreed-upon time or else find a way to contact home directly.
- Avoid shortcuts when you are walking from one place to another. Avoid walking between parked vehicles.
Work hard to establish trust and communication with your children from day one!
- Don't ever leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not. Don't let children go to the bus stop or wait alone.
- Make sure you know how to find or contact your children at all times.
- Take an active role in your children's activities.
- As tired as you may be, take the time to listen intently to your children when they tell you they had a bad dream. There could be a reason. Trust your instincts.
- Talk to your children about inappropriate incidences you hear on the news and get their perspective.
- Question and monitor anyone who takes an unusual interest in your children.
- Teach your children that they can be rude to an adult if they feel threatened in any way. They need to hear it from your directly because this message often contradicts everything they have heard before.
- Teach children the difference between an "OK" secret and a "NOT OK" secret. Assure your child that you would never want him/her to feel like they had to keep a "NOT OK" secret from you.
- Have your children practice their most annoying scream. They may need to use it someday.
- Check websites for registered offenders in your neighborhood. Talk to your children about why these people should be avoided.
- Keep your family computer in a central location that is easily monitored and avoid letting your children have internet access in unsupervised areas (i.e. computers in their bedrooms, etc.).
- Most importantly, practice, review and reinforce all of these tips in a manner that will not scare your children.
The goal is to make them smart. And keep them safe.