Child Safety Q&A's...

Q&A on Child Safety

What are the most important things a parent should know when talking to a child about this issue?

1. Don’t forget your older children. Children aged 11 to17 are equally at risk to victimization. At the same time you are giving your older children more freedom, make sure they understand important safety rules as well.

2. When you speak to your children, do so in a calm, nonthreatening manner. Children do not need to be frightened to get the point across. Fear can actually work at cross-purposes to the safety message, because fear can be paralyzing to a child.

3. Speak openly about safety issues. Children will be less likely to come to you if the issue is enshrouded in secrecy. If they feel that you are comfortable discussing the subject matter, they may be more forthcoming to you.

4. Do not confuse children with the concept of “strangers.” Children do not have the same understanding of who a stranger is as an adult might. The “stranger-danger” message is not effective, as danger to children is much greater from someone you or they know than from a “stranger.”

5. Practice what you talk about. You may think your children understand your message, but until they can incorporate it into their daily lives, it may not be clearly understood. Find opportunities to practice “what if” scenarios.

6. Teach your children that it is more important to get out of a threatening situation, than it is to be polite. They also need to know that it is okay to tell you what happened, and they won’t be a tattletale.

What are the most important things a parent should tell a child about this issue?

1. Children should always check first with you or a trusted adult before they go anywhere, accept anything, or get into a car with anyone.  This applies to older children as well.

2. Children should not go out alone and should always take a friend with them when they go places or play outside.

3. It’s okay to say no if someone tries to touch them or treats them in a way that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused and to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

4. Children need to know that they can tell you or a trusted adult if they feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.

5. Children need to know that there will always be someone to help them, and they have the right to be safe.


What is the biggest myth surrounding this issue?

The biggest myth is that the dangers to children come from strangers. In the majority of cases, the perpetrator is someone the parents or child knows, and that person may be in a position of trust or responsibility to the child and family.

What advice would you offer a parent who wanted to talk to their child about this issue?

Parents should choose opportunities or “teachable” moments to reinforce safety skills. If an incident occurs in your community, and your child asks you about it, speak frankly but with reassurance. Explain to your children that you want to discuss the safety rules with them, so that they will know what to do if they are ever confronted with a difficult situation. Make sure you have “safety nets” in place, so that your children know there is always someone who can help them.


Here are some good rules for children to follow that can help them to protect themselves.

1. Share a secret code word.

You and your parents should agree on a code word that is easy for you to remember. This way, if anyone tells you that you need to come with them because your parents were hurt or are in the hospital, you can ask them for the code word. If they really are a friend, they will know the code word that you and your parents share. If they do not know the code word, you should run away from them as fast as possible.

2. Stay away from strangers.

Who is a stranger? If you've seen someone hanging around your playground at school or in your neighborhood, this does not mean that you know him or her. Although he has a familiar face, he is still a stranger to you!

3. Grownups should NOT ask kids to do things that other adults can
do for them.

This means that you should not go, or get in a car, with an adult who, for example, asks you for directions. Grownups should not ask you to help them find a lost puppy or kitten, either. If someone does ask for your help, say, "Wait here and I'll check with my mom." Then go get your mom.

4. If you lose your parents in a public place like a store or a park
do not go looking for them.

Immediately ask someone who works there to help you find them. Tell them you have been separated from your parents and you need help finding them.

5. Always ask your parents or a grownup in charge before:

6. Once you have permission from your parents:

7. If someone follows you on foot or in a car, STAY AWAY.

You do NOT need to go near the car to talk to the people inside.