Any parent worthy of the title knows that the top priority in raising children is to protect them from danger. Whether those risks come from other people, the natural hazards on this planet, or their own underdeveloped thoughts and skills, children face a variety of obstacles on the path to adulthood. Most of us don’t have unlimited financial resources, but even if you did, you can’t anticipate or guard against every single peril that might possibly pop up in your child’s life. Here are a few tips on how to protect your children from specific threats without going broke in the process.
To protect your children from the monsters who live among us, you need to teach them how to avoid and react to situations that might put them in peril. Dr. Clint Van Zandt, a long-time FBI profiler, offers in-depth advice on the strategies and tactics children must learn in order to stay safe on the street. His recommendations include:
- Avoiding strangers
- Running away when threatened
- Alerting parents to any odd behavior
- Using the buddy system at all times
- Saying “no” forcefully
- Yelling loudly to attract attention and help
- Fighting back, when necessary
As a parent, you need to drill safety tips into your kids until they become second nature. You should also practice a variety of precautions yourself, including:
- Knowing where your children are at all times
- Mapping out safe routes that avoid registered sex offenders in your area
- Establishing safe houses and/or stores along common routes where kids can find sanctuary if they’re threatened
- Sharing a code word that can identify trustworthy adults if you can’t pick your children up
- Creating a rotation with other parents to monitor bus stops, sports practices, and other places where children gather
Following these and other security measures is critical if you want to keep your children safe. The good news is that these safeguards are free; your only expense is the time you’re willing to invest in ensuring that your children know how to protect themselves on the street.
The rise of the Internet has created a whole new class of threats to children that most parents these days never faced when they were young. From cyber–bullying and online predators to identity theft, computer viruses, and more, the Internet is in many ways the perfect stalking ground for the types of criminals who like to target the most vulnerable among us. As a parent, you need to set strict rules for your child’s online conduct (and stand firm against the likely barrage of teenager complaints).
Among the guidelines recommended by experts:
- Set up Internet access on a single computer in a “public” space in your home (e.g., in the kitchen or living room) so you can supervise your child’s usage.
- Discuss in depth the various dangers lurking on the Internet, how to identify them, and what to do — and what not to do — when, for instance, websites request personal information.
- Create standards for acceptable online behavior, spell out which kinds of websites are allowed and which are off limits, establish penalties for breaking the rules — and enforce the rules.
- Set firm limits on the number of hours your child can spend online, per day and per week; you can extend or reduce those hours to reward or punish certain behavior.
- A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
- Internet Safety Tips for Children
- Age-based guidelines for kids’ Internet use
- Dealing with Cyberbullying
- Cyberbullying Safety Tips
- Prevent Cyberbullying
- Protect Your Children from Online Predators
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