With spring break, long days and warm weather quickly approaching, kids will be spending more time playing outdoors during their downtime away from school. Parents and teachers should use this time to remind children that dangerous strangers and child predators are in parks, stores, libraries and neighborhoods looking to trick them into a potentially perilous situation.
The Sheriff’s Office recommends talking about the following safety tips with your children to help them become more aware of their surroundings and personal safety when out and about:
• Who is a stranger? It’s easy for children to think that only scary looking strangers are bad; however, they need to know that even pretty strangers can be dangerous. Explain that a stranger is anyone they do not know, no matter what they look like.
• Do not talk to a stranger. Children need to know that it is o.k. to ignore a stranger’s attempts to talk to them. Encourage them to trust their instincts and if they are being followed or something is not right, get help immediately or run somewhere safe.
• Never approach a stranger’s car. Strangers may ask for directions or try to entice a child to get in their car using various schemes. To keep from being grabbed and placed in the car, children should be taught to always stay more than an arm’s reach from a vehicle.
• Run, kick, scream. Teach your children to be assertive, and if necessary use whatever means necessary to run away from trouble to get help. You can practice different role-playing situations at home to build confidence in your child.
• Encourage children to use the buddy system. Whenever possible, don’t go it alone. Play or ride bikes with a friend – it’s not only safer, it’s a whole lot more fun. It is important that adults equip children with the appropriate knowledge and reliable strategies to keep them safe should they ever find themselves face to face in a stranger danger scenario.
For more information regarding this topic, or to have a representative from the Sheriff’s Office talk to students at your school, church or community organization, call the Community Relations Unit at 258-3280. To report a fraud or a scam, call the fraud line at 258-3292 or email at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.