We all have a list of prohibitions to communicate to children when they play outside. Here is a reminder of the most important tips.
Have your child memorize important addresses and phone numbers and regularly make sure they remember them by asking them to recite them. Whether it's your address, that of a relative or a neighbor you trust, the child needs to know where he can go or who he can call, if he is lost or has need help.
Set rules and decide which play areas your child can and cannot use. Remind him of these rules every time he goes out and take the time to explain to him why it is best to avoid isolated parking lots, wooded areas or deserted places.
Make sure your child understands that 9-1-1 is the number to call if they are in danger. Show him places in your area or on the route the child takes to and from school where he can go to call in case of danger.
Beware of strangers
Explain to him that a stranger is basically someone he doesn't know and who might even be friendly. Because a youngchild may have difficulty understanding what a stranger is, first point out people who are not strangers and then let him know that everyone else is a stranger. Beware, however: when you greet a "stranger" at the mall or on the street, explain to your child that this person is not a stranger to you, otherwise he will not understand why he is not allowed to talk to strangers, but you do.
What to do when a car stops near him?
Explain to your child that adults rarely ask a child for help or directions. Make him understand that he should never approach a stranger's vehicle and that he should hurry away if a vehicle stops near him. If he thinks he is being followed, he should run to the nearest public place and shout loudly for help. "It's not my dad" or "It's not my mom" are good key words to say to make passers-by understand that he is in danger. Role play different situations, such as walking away from a stranger or saying "no" confidently, to help your child react with confidence if a similar situation arises.
What if someone tries to grab it?
Explain to your child that a behavior that you usually disapprove of is absolutely permissible, if someone tries to grab it against their will. Tell him to throw himself on the ground and make a show of anger by doing the "bacon": he can hit,bite, scratch; toss books and personal items; to yell; yelling “that's not my mom (or dad)” or smashing things to get attention. Tell him to do "anything" that might attract attention. Only in these situations, of course!
What identifies it
Avoid writing your child's name on a t-shirt, lunch box, backpack, jacket or jewelry so that the inscription is visible to all. If his name is clearly visible to strangers, the child could be convinced that the other knows him since he knows his name. So be discreet in your object identifications.
Find out about its activities
Take time to walk around the neighborhood with your child. Learn where his favorite playground is, his favorite route to and from his friends, and who he sees every day. This is information that could be really useful to you in the event of a problem.
Always on radar
Remind your child to always be on their guard. Teach him to look around, listen and trust his instincts. Explain that fear is a good reaction and that instinct is the best way to detect and avoid danger. He has to trust his instincts.
Never keep a secret
Emphasize the importance of “talking” and make sure your child understands that adults don't share secretswith a child. If an adult insists on keeping information secret and especially not telling mom and dad, it is a good indication that this information must on the contrary be reported. Give him concrete examples, he will understand better.
Report your presence
Establish a procedure to follow when the child is with friends. Set a specific time when your child should contact you, by phone or in person, to let you know where they are, with whom and at what time they will be back home, every day.
Insist on getting to know your child's friends. Keep track of their phone number, address, and find out about their parents. Teach your children never to let anyone into your home without your permission.
Two is better
Never let your child go alone to the park, the mall, the cinema or a public restroom. Insist that he be with a friend at all times.
If you are late, arrange for your child to meet you in a known and safe public place or at the home of a trusted neighbour. Make sure he's not waiting for you in an empty parking lot or in a remote location that could be dangerous.
Find together a password
If someone is going to pick up your child for you, that person must know this password.
Set house rules
Safety rulesfor a child alone at home may be different from those on the street, but the precautionary principle with regard to a stranger remains the same. Explain these rules to your child, write them down and post them near the door or by the telephone. Also write the names of the people he can let in.
Assemble an ID kit
Your local police department can help you assemble your child's ID kit. It usually includes: a recent color photograph that should be replaced at least once a year (more often when the child is young), fingerprints, medical and dental history, including blood type, medical conditions, scars, fractures, dental extractions, orthodontic appliances, glasses, medications, allergies and any other relevant information.
Enfant-Retour Québec holds child identification clinics a few times each year. Take the opportunity to update the information and the photo of the notebook.