Safety tips for children
- Who I am and where I live - Help your children learn their full name, birth date, complete address, phone number (including area code) and their caregiver's full names.
- What I do if I am lost - If you are in a public place and get lost, don't wander around. Go to a checkout counter, tell the security officer or locate a clerk. Tell the person that you are lost.
- Check first - Always check with your parents, teacher, baby-sitter or caregiver before getting into a car or going anywhere with anyone. Check first before going into a neighbor's house.
- Use the buddy system - It is more fun and there is safety in numbers.
- Stay away - If someone follows you on foot or in a car, stay away from them (two giant steps). You should not go near the vehicle to talk to the people inside.
- Run, scream, get away - If someone tries to take you away, your best defenses are your legs and voice. Yell, " I don't know this person, and they are bothering me." Call 9-1-1 from any phone. It is a free call - you do not need money.
- Don't keep secrets - Don't keep secrets that make you feel uncomfortable. No one should ask you to keep a "special secret". Tell an adult you trust.
- Your body is special and private - No one should touch you in the parts covered by your bathing suit.
- Know that you are special - If you have a problem, any kind of problem, you can talk to your parents, a teacher, a principal, a police officer or friend of the family.
Be alert to common tricks
- The bribe or offer trick - The child is offered something he or she might want. A young child might be offered candy, a toy or gum, money, free food or a ride. Sometimes a person will take a valued belonging and then offer to return it only if the victim goes with the person, or allows sexual contact.
- The animal trick - The person is lured away from others by an invitation to play with, or receive a gift of a puppy or kitten, or some other cute or unusual animal.
- The emergency trick - A person pretends that a fire, accident, illness, or death or some other emergency has happened to the victim's family, home or friend. Or the person says there was a change in plans and he/she was to pick up because the prearranged ride fell through.
- The help trick - Someone asks the child for help; for directions, to use the phone, to search for someone or something lost, like a pet, child or money.
- The flattery trick - the person might ask the victim to go with him/her (posing as a photographer) so pictures or a video can be taken.
- The open the door trick - The person tricks the victim into opening the house door. The person might look like a repair person, or needs to deliver a package.
At home remind children to:
- Make sure all doors are securely locked.
- Know how to operate the security alarm system (if you have one).
- Never open the door to someone they do not know.
- Never tell someone at the door or on the phone that the parents are away.
- Know how to call 9-1-1 if they feel threatened when they are home alone. Instruct them to give details to the police dispatcher and remain on the line until the police arrive.
Parents should know the whereabouts of their young children at all times and be very cautious about allowing them to play unsupervised.
Cybersafety for kids online
The Internet has opened up a world of information for anyone with a computer and a connection. Too many dangers from pedophiles to con artists can reach children through the Internet. Your children will use the computer, but they need to know the rules you will establish regarding their computer time.
- Explain that although a person may be alone in a room using the computer, once logged on to the Internet, he or she is no longer alone. People skilled in using the Internet can find out who you are and where you are. They can even tap into information in your computer.
- Set aside time to explore the Internet together. If your child has some computer experience, let him or her take the lead. Visit areas of the World Wide Web that have special sites for children.
- The best tool a child has for screening material found on the Internet is his or her brain. Teach children about exploitation, pornography, hate literature, excessive violence, and other issues that concern you, so they know how to respond when they see this material.
- Choose a commercial online service that offers parental control features. These features can block contact that is not clearly marked as appropriate for children.
- Purchase blocking software and design your own safety system. Different packages can block sites by name, search for unacceptable words and block access to sites containing those words, block entire categories of material, and prevent children from giving out personal information.
- Monitor your children when they're online and monitor the time they spend online. If a child becomes uneasy or defensive when you walk into the room or when you linger, this could be a sign that he or she is up to something unusual.
Tell your children
- To always let you know immediately if they find something scary or threatening on the Internet.
- Never give out their name, address, telephone number, password, school name, parent's name, or any other personal information.
- Never agree to meet face to face with someone they've met online.
- Never to respond to messages that have bad words or seem scary or just weird.
- Never to enter an area that charges for services without asking you first.
- Never sent a picture of themselves to anyone without your permission.
Other things you can do
If your child receives threatening email or pornographic material, save the offensive material and contact that user's Internet service provider and the Bloomington Police Department.