Protecting Your Child from Abduction
Tweens (6-10 years old)
Kids over the age of 5 begin to test boundaries. Grant your child enough freedom to help him develop confidence and independent thinking. However, be careful not to let your child get into a situation he can't handle. Parenting expert Faull recommends playing "what if" games to see how your child might react when confronted with challenging situations.
- Encourage your child to pair up with a friend whenever she is away from you. Predators rarely focus on kids who aren't alone.
- Require your child to check in with you before he leaves one site where he is playing and heads for another.
- Make sure your child knows never to get into a car without your permission and to stay well away from strangers' vehicles.
- Encourage your child to be a bit suspicious of strangers' motives.
- Teach your child that the proper reaction to being accosted by a stranger is to yell "No," and run away.
- Require your child to report to you when anyone -- even a relative -- asks your child to keep a secret or offers her money or gifts. Similarly, your child should always let you know if someone -- known or unknown -- wants to take her photograph.
- Let your child know that people sometimes use tricks to lure children away from their homes. Make sure your child understands that adults should ask other adults rather than children for directions or help finding something, such as a lost puppy or kitten.
- Consider making up a "secret password" only the family knows. This way, if someone approaches your child, saying he was sent by you or another family member, the child can ask for the password.
- Teach your child "home-alone" safety (see our Home Alone Quiz).
- Teach your child to recognize the types of "low-risk" individuals she may ask for help if she is lost, including police officers, firefighters, school crossing guards, elderly women, and women accompanied by children.
- Teach your child to trust his "gut" instincts. If your child is feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, he should run and seek help.
- Make sure your child knows another adult, besides you, his parents, that he might confide in if for some reason he felt he couldn't come to you.