This the final part of the four-part series of articles by the Garden City Police Department addressing back to school safety issues. In the previous three articles we addressed safe driving practices, school bus safety and pedestrian/bicyclist safety. This week’s article will cover stranger danger. Parents, grandparents, guardians and teachers are encouraged to use this article to help teach their children about stranger danger.
It is very important to explain to children that strangers can look like normal people, not monsters. A stranger is someone that you don’t know very well or don’t know at all.
Experts recommend that parents or guardians role play with their children about just how someone might approach them, such as offering candy, asking for help or asking if they’d like to come and meet their new puppy. You should teach your child to give a firm “no” and to walk away. When you role play with your children, keep it matter-of-fact and calm so as to not overly frighten them. Part of protecting children is not just pointing out dangers, but also teaching confidence. This will help them to make good decisions in bad situations.
Teach your children to trust their own instincts. They should trust that feeling in their gut that tells them if something is safe or not. You can describe it as the feeling in your tummy that gives you butterflies if something isn’t right.
Never approach a vehicle of someone asking directions; adults don’t need directions from children.
There is safety in numbers. Whenever possible don’t walk alone.
Carry your cell phone for use in emergencies.
Never accept rides from strangers.
Parents: develop a secret password that only your family knows. Tell your kids that they should never go with anyone unless they know the secret password. Make sure to tell your children that they should never share this secret password with anyone.
If you think you are being followed go to the nearest business or residence for help.
If you are being harassed by occupants of a vehicle, you should turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The driver will have to turn around or back up to follow you.
When you are approaching your home, have your door key ready so you can enter your house without delay.
Teach your children that if someone attempts to take them and grabs them, they should fall to the ground and start screaming and kicking, bite if necessary and do anything it takes. They should make as much noise as possible and create as much diversion as possible so that they draw the attention of other people who may be in the area.
If you think something is out of the ordinary, report it to the police as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Information that the police need is:
- Vehicle license plate number, make/model and color.
- Gender, race, approximate age, weight and height of subject.
- Subject’s clothing description.
- Length and color of subject’s hair; any unusual marks, scars, tattoos, jewelry, hat, glasses etc.
- Last direction of travel of subject, either on foot or traveling by vehicle.
Strangers often use the internet to prey on their victims. Home computers should be kept in a busy area of the house.
Children should never:
- Give out their name, address, phone number or school name.
- Arrange a face-to-face meeting with anyone they meet online.
- Go into chat rooms unless their parents say it’s okay.
- Open emails from someone they don’t know.
- Go to links they don’t recognize.
Children should always tell an adult if they see something on the internet that makes them feel uncomfortable.
The Garden City Police Department encourages everyone to take advantage of these safety tips and the others covered in the previous three articles. If you missed any of the previous articles, you can stop by the Garden City Police Department to pick up copies. The police department wishes everyone a safe and healthy school year.