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Not So Troubled Youth: Keeping Your Kids Street Smart As They Head Back To School

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

It’s back to school time for many kids and back to work time for many (summer) stay-at-home moms and dads (not just those in the teaching profession). And, for many that may mean your kids heading out to the bus after you leave and/or arriving before you make it home.

Besides not wanting to leave them home alone (for too long) parent’s are often concerned about allowing their kids to walk to the bus stop, to school, or home after the day is over. After from strangers in the street to Internet stalkers, all you never know who’s out there. What you “do” know is that whoever they are, you want to protect your children from them, but you want to do it in a way that doesn’t frighten them or freak them out.

They key say experts is education, the kind of (street) smarts they just wont’ get at school

1. Make sure your child knows NEVER to reveal his/her full name, address, and phone number (with area code) to anyone (except perhaps a police office or medical personnel in case of emergency). And let them know that they should also be cautious not to leak this info out over the Internet. Furthermore, they should never send a picture of themselves without first consulting with a parent or guardian.

2. Instruct children on how to use the phone (both cell and phone) including where to find emergency contacts and numbers, how to make long distance and collect calls, how to use pay phones and calling cards.

3. Do not only emphasize not speaking to strangers (since many “predators” are actually people your children know and/or see every day and may not consider a stranger), but rather give them a list of individuals you and they can consider “safe”. Give this list also to your child’s school, sitter or caregiver and don’t forget to include those who your will allow to pick up your child plus photos if possible.

4. Instruct children to refrain from traveling alone but rather to stick in pairs and above all to avoid any “desolate” (though perhaps “attractive”) places such as shortcuts, back alleys, forests, worksites, etc.

5. Talk to your child about things that may make him or her feel uncomfortable and let him or her know that you are always willing to listen if they have anything to report.

6. On one hand, you want to teach your child about remaining calm (in emergency situations) but on the other you may want to instruct them to do anything that will attract attention or scare the offender off. A recommended technique is instructing your child to scream that he or she doesn’t know the person and to call out to people on the street for help or to call the police.

7. Stress that regardless of “relationship” or “authority”, no adult or peer as the right to touch or speak to your child in an inappropriate manner or one that makes him/her feel threatened or uncomfortable.

8. Teach children to NEVER let on they are alone. It’s best they don’t answer the door or phone, but if a stranger comes to the door, tell them to immediately call out for an adult and immediately get on the phone (possibly even to the police)

9. Instruct children to NEVER accept any “gifts” form strangers or from anyone YOU (the parent) has not authorized. Instead they should politely decline and inform the party that though they appreciate the gesture it’s best they check with a parent or guardian first. Also make it clear to your child that NO ONE should ever visit without your consent, nor should they go to anyone’s house without you knowing or approving. And, it’s probably best that you accompany your child to all get togethers.

10. Emphasize the perils of the Internet, and inform your child of all the potential scams and scammers out there. Teach you child to know online friends as well as he or she knows personal friends, perhaps even restrict online use to and with friends YOU already know and are comfortable with.

11. Educate your child about animals and not bringing home strays or even startling pets they know, it can be quite dangerous.

12. Make sure your kids are well versed in traffic and safety rules, especially concerning crossing the street, looking both ways, observing traffic signals and only walking where they are allowed to walk. When you think they are ready to tackle the task on their own, watch them a few times; even trail them before giving them carte blanche.

13. Make sure you are calm when discussing these guidelines with your children. You don’t want to make them “paranoid” or fearful and distrustful of everyone and everything. Make sure to ask lots of questions and to answer them thoughtfully and carefully.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Not So Troubled Youth: Keeping Your Kids Street Smart As They Head Back To School

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