Anyone who has had their eye on local news recently can tell you that there has been a surge of attempted child abductions in the Fredericksburg and surrounding county areas. In Georgia a 7 year old was almost abducted from a Walmart, and the act was caught on video. While we in the Sexual Violence Prevention field are constantly reminding the public that over 80% of child sexual abuse incidents occur within the family, it is important to equip your children with the necessary safety tools to avoid harm from strangers as well. The following tips are quick and easy but they could mean all the difference in the safety of your child.
Keep Private Information Private: Don’t write your childs name in visible places on their clothing. Make sure they know that grown-ups should not ever ask them personal information like where they live or their phone number. Grown-ups also don’t usually ask kids for directions, if that happens they should try to get away from that person. If your child answers the phone make sure they know never to say they are home alone. You can keep a script next to the phone to help them remember what to say. Ex. “Mommy is busy right now, can I take a message?”
Code Words: Teaching your children a code word is a great way for them to help distinguish between a safe adult, and one that means them harm. Teach them a code word that every adult you would ever ask to pick them up, give them something, talk to them etc. would know. For example, if you had to send someone to pick them up from school who they had not met teach them to ask for a code word, it should be something easy to remember, but not something a stranger could guess right away. For example “popcorn” might make a good code word. Whereas “ballet” if your child loves ballet, has a ballet backpack, jacket and tennis shoes, would not. As with anything with children, use repition. Before you drop them off ask them “Hey, what’s the family code word?”
FIRE!: How many times have you been inside your house and heard a child squealing outside for help, you go running to the window only to find its your neighbor and her older brother have a tickle fight? Kids call for help all the time and we (adults) are so de-sensitized that we don’t always come to their rescue when we should. Teaching your children to yell FIRE! or Help! Stranger! is shown to be more effective than yelling for help alone, or yelling something like “This is not my Dad” etc.
Note: Studies show that it also more effective to yell FIRE in dangerous adult situations. While people do not always come to the rescue when they hear someone yelling for help or even someone yelling Rape! They will come if they believe there is a fire.
Buddy System: Have your children use the buddy system even if they are just walking to the neighbor’s house. Recent attacks have been out in the country and in suburban neighborhoods, no matter where you live there is always more safety in numbers!
Safe Places: Teach your children to walk along safe routes. If they walk home, identify safe houses or businesses they could duck into in the case of an emergency. Research where sex offenders live in your area, and give your children walking routes that avoid these houses. http://www.familywatchdog.us/ can give you a map and a listing of the charges against sex offenders in your neighborhood.
Stay Informed, Plan Ahead:Stay informed about things going on in your community. Sign up for emergency alerts for your locality. You can recieve emails, text messages or phone calls when an emergency occurs, or if there is an alert for your area (weather, criminal, public safety etc.). Make a safety plan for your family, including meeting places, emergency phone numbers etc.
Please visit the sites below to sign up for your local emergency notification service:
King George: https://www.kgalert.com/index.php?CCheck=1
For more information on child safety, national and international resources, visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Website at:
For more information, questions, comments or concerns you can contact the RCASA hotline 24/7 at 540-371-6771