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PROTECTING  OUR  FAMILIES


Most parents have rules for their children regarding bedtime, chores, etc. but it's important that you establish "family rules" about personal safety.  By introducing our children to some basic safety rules at an early age, and adding to these rules as they mature, will help minimize their fears and establish good safety habits. 

Summer Safety Tips for Parents - great tips for protecting your children

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides tips for parents and guardians to keep kids safe

Violent Crimes Against Children

Kids Safety Tips - a page for kids

Here are some very important tips on protecting your family:

Rules for Physical Safety
Bad Guy Rules
Internet Safety
Child Bullies
Anger Management for Teens
Conflict Management for Parents
Talking With Kids About Drugs
A Parent's Guide to Social Networking Sites
A Parent's Guide to Leaving Kids Home Alone
What to Teach Kids About Strangers


RULES FOR SAFETY

Outside Rules:

    1.  Learn the full names of your child's friends, and their parents' names, addresses, and phone numbers.  When your child
         goes to a friend's house, is there an adult around or are they alone?

    2.  Establish a route for your child to follow to and from school or other activities.  Emphasize to your child not to vary from
         this route so you can find them quickly if necessary.

    3.  Never allow your kids to play in isolated areas of parks or playgrounds. They should avoid public restrooms, building
         sites and dark streets if not accompanied by you or a designated adult.

    4.  Children's best defense is their voice and legs.  If someone is bothering them, tell them to start running and yell for help. 
         Have your child practice yelling for help.

    5.  Teach children not to approach vehicles that stop and ask them for help.
 

Inside Rules:

    1.  Kids should be taught to dial 9-1-1 from a cell phone, land line, and pay phone.  Have your child practice dialing the
         numbers on a phone that is turned off or not plugged in to the wall.
 
    2.  Kids should learn their FULL name, address (including state) and phone number as young as possible.  They should
         learn your first and last name, not just know you as "mom" or "dad".

    3.  Kids should be taught to never reveal any personal (name, school, age, etc) or family information over the phone unless
         a parent gives permission.

    4.  If kids are home alone and answer a phone call for an absent parent, they should say "She can't come to the phone right
         now" and take a message or tell the caller to try later - don't make excuses, they can sound funny.

    5.  Teach your kids it's ok not to answer the phone if they are home alone.  Work out a code with your child when you are
         trying  to call them - let the phone ring three times, then hang up and call back.  Or have the caller i.d. option on your land line.

    6. Teach kids not to answer the door if they are home alone.  Only when the child is old enough to verify who is at the door
         without opening it, should they be allowed to open the door if they are home alone.




BAD GUY RULES:

Society teaches kids that "bad guys" are ugly, and look mean and scary.  But many times bad guys are attractive and seem very
nice and friendly. 

They will often play tricks on kids or lie to them in the following ways to get them to come with them:

    -  If you come with me, I will give you lots of candy/money

    -  Your mom sent me to pick you up because she's busy

    -  If you don't come with me, I will hurt your mom

    -  My puppy ran away, can you please come help me find him?

Remember, a stranger is someone who is not known by the child.  A friend of the parent, a friend of the child's friend, or a neighbor can be a stranger.  And a  stranger can be a good guy or a bad guy.

Teach kids that a bad guy is someone who asks them to violate a family rule (e.g. someone who says they don't need permission to accompany them)

Develop a family "code word".  If someone other than a parent is going to pick up a child at school unexpectedly, that person should repeat the code word first, before the child agrees to leave the safety of school grounds.  The code word should remain a secret and be changed if others learn of the word.


Safety Contract for Kids:

Even at an early age you can get your children to commit to and understand some simple rules for staying safe:

1. I will not go anywhere without telling my parents
2. I will say where I'm going, who I will be with, and how I am getting there, and when I will be back
3. I will get permission from my parents before getting into any car, even if I know them        
4. I will not change my plans without asking my parents
5. I will not accept money or gifts before talking to my parents
6. If someone offers me drugs, I will tell an adult immediately
7. I will use the buddy system and avoid going anywhere by myself
8. If an adult touches me in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable, I will tell an adult I trust.  I will not be scared or embarrassed
     because it is not my fault.




INTERNET SAFETY

Remember when we used to sit around playing board games with our family or went to the library to check out a book?  So much of that has been replaced with texting, online gaming, and surfing the web.  As parents, the task of protecting our children from these resources can be overwhelming, especially when kids seem to know more than parents.  So often parents overlook the fact that they teach their children from an early age not to talk to strangers, but then allow them to "chat" on line with complete strangers.

There are predators on the internet looking for victims and we need to educate our children and ourselves.  The following are some daunting statistics that just may wake you up about your child and the internet:

        •  70% of children on the internet have received a message from someone they didn't know
        •  14% of the children interviewed stated they had met someone in person who they met online
        •  40% of those receiving messages from someone they didn't know, replied and chatted with them
        •  1/3 of all children on the internet have seen unwanted or sexual material
        •  1 out of every 7 children have received sexual solicitation
        •  33% of those interviewed stated their parents know little or nothing about what they do on the internet
        •  48% of teens 16-17 stated their parents know little or nothing about what they do on the internet

It is important that we talk to our children and establish rules for the internet and explain to them about potential predators.  They need to understand that if something happens on the computer that is inappropriate or threatening, they need to tell you

Follow these internet safety guidelines with your children:

        •  Monitor your child's internet activities and move the computer to a public area in the home
        •  Talk to your child about internet safety and establish rules
        •  Check into software utilities that can provide additional safety
        •  Become knowledgeable
        •  Report any inappropriate activities

As a parent, it's important that you become aware of issues and trends on the internet:

Netsmartz Workshop is an interactive program for children, tweens, teens, and parents to learn about internet safety, social networking, cyber bullying, and much, much more.  




WHAT PARENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BULLYING

Bullying can take on many forms.  It doesn't just have to be physical, it can also be verbal,  emotional, or even done across the internet as cyber bullying.  Bullying occurs when the behavior is aggressive, intentional, and when one child tries to exert power over another child through physical, verbal, or emotional pressure.  A child that is being bullied has a  hard time defending themselves and the bullying can be repeated over and over causing them fear, stress, and even physical sickness.


Signs that your child may be a victim of bullying:

    - torn clothes
    - lack of appetite
    - mood changes
    - reluctance to go to school
    - bruises or injuries that can't be explained

Signs that your child might be a bully:

    - no empathy for others
    - impulsiveness
    - desire to be in control and/or showing dominance around other children
    - may be an arrogant winner, and a very poor loser, even showing anger during competitive sports

What to do if you think your child is being bullied:
Talk with your child.  Be sure to be supportive, listen to your child and make them feel comfortable talking to you about what's happening.  Report bullying to your child's school.  There may be other children that this individual is bullying as well.



What parents should know about cyber bullying:

Tips to prevent cyber bullying:

1. Keep your computer in an easily visible location in your home
2. Talk to your kids regularly about what they are looking at on the computer
3. Let your child know that you will occasionally be reviewing where they've been on the internet
4. Consider installing some type of parent controls on your computer or other filtering software.
5. Let you children know that they will lose the use of the computer if they don't follow your rules about computer use



If your child experiences cyber bullying:

1. Tell your kids not to respond to cyber bullying
2. Do not erase the message(s) or photos.  These can be used as evidence against the bully
3. Try to determine who is doing the bullying
4. Consider filing a complaint with your internet provider
5. Contact your child's school
6. If the bully makes threats of violence, extortion, obscene or harassing messages, or it becomes stalking, contact your Sheriff's
    Office immediately.


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