While the responsibility of parenting hasn’t changed over the years, time has definitely made it much more challenging for parents of today than it was for past generations. Technology has exploded over the last few decades and people (predators/criminals) have evolved. It used to be enough to tell your children not to talk to strangers, keep the doors locked and don’t go with anyone if you haven’t asked your parents first. That’s not the case anymore.
Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if your kids are out playing in their front yard, walking down the road with a friend or at a formal dance dressed in their little boy suits and fancy girls’ dresses…predators will strike anywhere and at any time. However, this doesn’t mean we can keep our kids under lock and key, never to leave the house. So, how can we ensure we are keeping our kids as safe as possible?
1. Know Your Babysitters. A lot of parents are too eager to get out of the house for a romantic night out that they half-heartedly investigate the people they hire to watch their kids. There are so many child abuse cases that arise from babysitters abusing kids while the parents are out. One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to thoroughly investigate your babysitters. In fact, you may want to pay a new sitter to come over and watch the kids while you are home (you can clean, go through things, do yard work, etc.) to get a better idea of what type of person you are entrusting your kids with before you leave them alone with her (or him).
2. Don’t Leave Kids Home Alone. It’s tempting to leave older kids home alone because they are so independent…plus, it saves you money for a babysitter. However, this isn’t safe, especially if you do it on a regular basis. First, older kids may be online while you’re gone chatting with people they don’t know and secondly, if there is a criminal nearby and you leave often, it isn’t going to be hard for him/her to figure out your routine. It’s best to either take your kids with you or leave them with a friend or family member when you have to leave.
3. Pay Attention. When you are away from home with your kids, make sure to pay attention to the people around you and your children. Even if you are at a friend’s Christmas party and your child needs to use the restroom, be where you can see the restroom from where you are. If you’re at the park with your kids, be mindful of who else is around and be on the lookout for people who are alone, especially if they don’t have kids but are watching the play area intently.
4. Talk to Your Kids. Finally, one of the best things you can do to help ensure your kids’ safety is to talk to them about various dangers. Anytime a kidnapping is reported on the news, a child overdoses, a home is broken into or another crime is committed TALK to your kids about the situation and discuss how the situations may have been prevented. You may not think your kids are listening, but they really do absorb this information and it comes back to them when they find themselves in potentially dangerous situations, especially if you start talking to your kids at a young age. Don’t ever just assume they know a situation is dangerous or that they’ll know how to avoid such a situation.