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10 ways to protect Your School-Aged Children When Your're Not Around

As your kids grow up, they become more independent and inevitably start going more places without you. When this happens, it’s normal as a parent to worry about their safety. But, how can you protect them when you’re not with them 24/7?

The following tips from safety experts offer some actionable steps you can take now to have a little more peace of mind when your kids are flying solo.

Teach your children their full address and phone number. Also, give them a written list of other important work and cell numbers where they can reach you so they can keep it in their backpack.   

Walk your child’s route to the bus stop or school. Be sure to let your child know the people and places they should avoid on their route. Make sure they know to avoid busy streets and intersections as well as isolated or dangerous areas like vacant lots or construction areas.

Encourage the buddy system. Let your child know how important it is to walk with a classmate or sibling to school or their bus stop. Discourage them from making a habit of walking places alone.

Require your child to ask permission to leave the house. Always make sure your child asks to leave the house to go play in the neighborhood. You should know exactly where they are going and give them a specific time when they need to check-in with you or return home. Whenever possible, get the phone number to where they will be before they leave.

Get to know your child’s playmates. Learn the names of your child’s friends and meet their parents before you send your child to play at their home. If you can’t meet the parents face-to-face, talk to them on the phone. Find out what your child will do at their home and if an adult will be there to supervise.

Teach your child about “safe strangers” they can go to for help. If they do run into trouble when you are not around, it is important that your child knows how to recognize safe adults that can help them like teachers, police officers and firefighters.  

Make sure your child knows "No, Go, Yell, Tell." Children should know when they sense the danger that it is okay to say “no”, run away, yell for help, and tell a trusted adult.

Set up a code word. Establish a code word that is easy for your child to remember. If an adult comes to pick them up and doesn’t know the code word, your child will know that it is not safe to leave with that person.

Keep a current photo/video of your child. Hopefully, you will never need to use it in this way, but if your child is missing and you need to help the authorities locate him or her, a current photo or video will be extremely helpful.

Teach your child how to call 911. Practice a mock call to 911 with your child to ensure they know how to dial and what to say to the dispatcher. Make sure they know how to provide specific information like their full address and your full name, not “Mommy” or “Daddy”.

You can’t always be right there with your children at every moment. However, by following these tips, you can feel more confident that they will be safe and sound when you’re not around.