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Protecting Your Children From Violent Crime

Apr 19, 2008
Many parents worry that their child may become the victim of a violent crime, such as kidnapping or sexual assault. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of American children are becoming exposed to acts of violence-against themselves, a family member, or a friend. Violent acts can have harmful, long-lasting effects on a child's physical and mental health and quality of life. The best way to protect your child from harm is to teach him or her some basic safety rules and to make sure that he or she understands and follows them.

You can teach your child how to avoid potentially dangerous situations and what to do if he or she gets into frightening circumstances. As soon as your child is old enough to understand, teach him or her, the following safety measures:

* How to give his or her name, address, and phone number (by age 4 or 5).

* Safe routes for walking in the neighborhood and to and from school. He or she should always walk with a friend and walk only in well-lighted, busy areas. If your child comes home to an empty house after school, he or she should immediately call you (or another adult).

* If your child gets separated from you in a public place, instead of wandering around looking for you, he or she should go immediately to the checkout counter, security office, or the lost-and-found and tell the person in charge that he or she is lost. On outings, designate a meeting place in case you get separated.

* Never get into a car or go anywhere with anyone unless you have said it is OK to do so.

* If someone follows your child, to stay as far away from that person as possible and to run for help if someone tries to take your child somewhere, to scream or yell and run away.

* To be suspicious of and get away from anyone who asks for directions.

* If someone your child doesn't know well wants to take his or her picture, to refuse and tell you or a trusted adult.

* To tell you, a teacher, other trustworthy adult, or the police about any observed crime or suspicious activity or to call 911 or the emergency number in your area for help.

* To not allow anyone except a doctor, or a baby-sitter helping him or her with a bath, to see him or her unclothed and to not let anyone touch him or her inappropriately.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your child safe:

* Know where your child is at all times. Become familiar with his or her friends and daily activities and routines.

* Don't leave children and young teens alone and unsupervised after school.

* Make sure your child always has enough money to make a phone call in case

* It may also be a good idea to get your child a cell phone. The best and cheapest option may be to get a cell phone that has prepaid minutes. Also ensure that the cell phone always has minutes available for the child to use.
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