By Rob Baquera,
Public Information Officer, Roseville Police Department
Children are precious, but they often lack the skills and knowledge to protect themselves. As a parent, you are constantly concerned about your child’s personal safety. You might wonder what age you should start a conversation with your child on personal safety. Since all kids mature at different rates, it is up to you to decide the best time for your child. Of course, even preschoolers can be taught some basic skills. Remember, when talking with your children about safety, give them a little information at a time, repeat it several times, and then practice.
What young children should know:
• Their full name, address, and phone number
• Their parents full names (Mommy and Daddy is not enough)
• When to call 9-1-1 and what to say
• The name of the place that Mommy or Daddy works
When talking with your children about safety, make sure that you do not create fear and anxiety. For example, instead of talking about “stranger danger,” which may cause fear, focus on teaching skills you want your children to use to stay safe with strangers. Tell your children that most people are good, and that also means strangers. However, there are some people that are not good. They do not have to worry about these strangers as long as they follow the safety rules you teach them.
Here are some basic rules to teach young children:
• I will always check first with Mom or Dad (or the person in charge of me) before I go anywhere or get into a car, even if it is someone I know.
• I will always check first with Mom or Dad (or the person in charge of me) before I accept anything from anyone, even if it is someone I know.
• I can say “NO” if someone tries to touch me or treat me in a way that makes me feel scared, confused, or uncomfortable, even if it’s an adult.
• I can always talk to my parents or trusted adult if I feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
• If I have a problem, I will tell an adult I trust and keep on telling until I get help.
Teaching and practicing these basic skills will help keep your children stay safe with most people, most of the time.
Things parents should know:
• Children are more likely to be harmed by someone they know than by a stranger.
• Anyone can be a child molester—a neighbor, relative, family friend, church leader, or even another child.
Empower your children with the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe. Talk with them often about the rules you expect them to follow. Role play different scenarios that may arise when they are out on their own. As your children get older, you can build upon this foundation and prepare them for other possible dangers they may encounter.