How To Empower Your Child To Be Safe

A child’s safety is the primary concern of parents today. However, parents might not always be present to protect their children. So, it’s crucial to empower your child. Read on to know how.

By Renita Siqueira

How To Empower Your Child To Be Safe

Staying safe is one of the most important lessons that you can teach your child and rest assured, these lessons will last him a lifetime. Starting a conversation about safety only when you hear about an unfortunate case on the news, might end up scaring him.

As a parent, you must start talking about your child’s safety early on and have this conversation periodically as she grows up. This will help her confide in you, in her times of need. However, it is also your duty to teach her the basics on how to keep herself safe, if the situation asks for it. Here are some tips.

Tips for children to stay safe in schools

Ask your child to

Not wander anywhere alone: As tempting as it is to run away from the class along with friends, teach your child to never leave the school or wander by himself to unknown places. Even after school, he should come directly back home or inform his parents, if he has to go somewhere urgently.

Follow the school’s safety measures: Go through the school’s rules, regulations and anti-bullying measures and make sure your child understands them too.

Learn the emergency protocol: Emergency procedures are taught to students as well as mentioned in their handbooks. Make sure your child is aware of what needs to be done in case of an emergency.

Identify a trusted adult: Through conversations with your child, help her identify an adult in the school she can trust and approach in times of need.

Not to go to the washroom alone: Ask your child to always visit the washroom along with another child or friend that he trusts.

Tips for children to stay safe on the road

Ask your child to

 Learn the signals: Teach your child about traffic signals and what each colour means and ask him to always follow the signals.

Look before crossing the road: Your child should first look right, then left and right again before crossing the road and should cross only at zebra crossings. She should never cross at sharp turns and corners, as it would limit her visibility of oncoming traffic.

Always walk on a footpath: Teach your children to walk on the footpath wherever they are present. If not, it is preferable to walk on the side of the road in the direction of oncoming traffic, so that they can see what is approaching them. This will prevent them from being pushed or hit from behind.

Never run on roads: Teach your child that running on the road is never an option.

Be visible: Your child should always travel in well-lit areas. It is also advisable to wear bright colours that are easily noticeable in the dark and not colours that blend in with the surroundings.

Tips for children to stay safe in crowded places

Ask your child to

Stay within sight: Places like entertainment parks or fairs have many children running around, who are easily distracted by all that there is to see. Ask your child to stay within sight and decide on a meeting point, beforehand, in case you drift away from each other.

Remember important numbers: Teach your child your contact number and house address. If lost, she can ask the authorities to get in touch with you.

Identify helpful people: When in crowded places like malls, theatres, or playgrounds, teach your child to identify employees or security personnel by their uniforms or name tags and approach them for help, if necessary.

Be prepared: It is wise to prepare your child for worst-case-scenarios. Rehearse steps that he could follow if he were to find himself in an unsafe situation.

Be aware of surroundings: Teach your child to be aware of the surroundings and the people in it at all times, and to note the easiest exits in any crowded area.

Tips for children to stay safe while using public transport

Ask your child to

Find a travel buddy: Ask your child to find a travel buddy travelling the same route, so that she is always in the company of someone.

Use all his senses: Nowadays, children are always engrossed in their gadgets or are lost, listening to music. It is very important for them to take note of their surroundings and be aware at all times. Their senses should be alert always.

Not get on or off moving vehicles: If your children travel by themselves, via public transport, or have a vehicle arranged by the school, they should remember never to get on or off a vehicle that is in motion. After getting off, they should wait and watch the traffic on both sides, before crossing the road.

Be inside the vehicle at all times: Advise your child to never stick his head or hands out of the vehicle at any point of time, even if it is just to wave at someone.

Not move around in a moving vehicle: Teach your child to always sit while travelling. Moving around can make her vulnerable to getting hurt because of sudden braking or any other impact.

Tips for children about personal safety

Ask your child to

Avoid strangers: The importance of stranger-danger cannot be emphasised enough. Your child should never speak to, go with or take something from someone she does not know.

Say 'No' if he feels unsafe: Children are often told they shouldn’t say ‘No’ to adults. But, let your child know that he should say ‘No’, or even shout ‘No’ if he feels unsafe or uncomfortable. He should run away from that place and tell a trusted adult about what happened.

Trust her instincts: Teach your child to trust her instincts and gauge people by the way they behave. Children have an innate sense of something being ‘wrong’. Even if the person is not a stranger, your child should not be forced to be with someone she is not comfortable with.

Learn self-defence: Your children should learn some form of self-defence from a young age. This makes them stronger and more confident if and when they face dicey situations. Your child can also carry a pepper spray or learn to use any object she has with her to defend herself, if required.

Not to keep secrets from you: Have open conversations with your child and don’t treat any subject as taboo. Encourage him to talk about his experience without the fear of being judged or punished. Explain that he shouldn’t have secrets from you or have to keep others’ secrets.

Tips for children about cyber safety

Ask your child to

Never share personal information: No matter who your child is in touch with online, she should never give anyone any personal information about herself - name, address, age, gender, etc.

Protect his online identity: It is advisable to use a screen name while gaming or using social media. Teenagers should ensure they do not use an offensive or sexy name.

Take your permission: Your child should ask you for permission before posting any information, images or videos online.

Never share passwords: Your children should always share their passwords with you and with no one else. It is advisable to change passwords once in four months.

Not use offensive language: If your child feels she is being subjected to any kind of offensive content or language or is being bullied, ask her to let you know immediately and not respond to those messages.

As parents, your most innate nature is to protect your child from any possible harm. However, it is not possible to be physically present with your children all the time. Therefore, it is vital to equip your children to take care of themselves no matter what the scenario.

Renita Siqueira is a Communications Officer at Safecity. 

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