Child Safety Issues

Reporting Abuse

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children receives more tips about abuse through a cyber-tip line than through phone calls. The cyber-tip line enables people to report incidents or suspicions of sexual exploitation or online predators, which the center investigates and forwards to local agencies.

Child Safety Issues

In today’s society, more and more older children are staying at home alone or with friends after school. Determining when your child is “mature” enough to handle staying alone is a personal choice. If you and your child have decided that the child can handle the responsibility, here are some basics to make sure that your child knows safety rules and contact information.

What You Can Do

Make sure your children are old enough and mature enough to fully care for themselves for a few hours.

Teach them basic safety rules. Post household safety rules in a place where they can easily obtain the information.

Know the three W’s:

  • Where—your children are;
  • What—they are doing;
  • Who—they are with.

Are They Ready?

Ask yourself (and your child) these simple questions to determine if they are ready for the responsibility. Can they:

  • Be trusted to go straight home after school?
  • Easily use the telephone, locks, and kitchen appliances?
  • Follow rules and instructions well?
  • Handle unexpected situations without panicking?
  • Stay alone without being afraid?

A Word About Curiosity

Are there things you do not want your children to get into? Take time to talk to them about the deadly consequences of guns, medicines, power tools, drugs, alcohol, cleaning products, and inhalants. Make sure to keep these items in a secure place that is out of sight and locked up.

Teach Your “Home Alone” Children

  • That they must check in with you, a relative, or a neighbor every day. Set a reasonable time for them to arrive home and make clear what will happen if you do not receive their call.
  • How to call 911 for emergency assistance and how to contact the Police for general assistance.
  • Their home address and directions to the home, if necessary, in case of emergency.
  • To never accept gifts or rides from people they do not know and of whom do you not approve in advance.
  • How to use door and window locks and the alarm system if you have one.
  • Never to let anyone into your home when adults are not there unless pre-approved by you.
  • Never let a caller at the door or on the phone know that they are alone. Teach them to say “Mom/Dad cannot come to the phone or the door right now.”
  • To carry a house key with them in a safe place. Do not leave hidden keys outside the house for them.
  • How to escape in case of a fire.
  • Not to go into an empty house or apartment if things do not look right—a broken window, a ripped screen, an open door.
  • To let you know about anything that frightens them or makes them feel uncomfortable.

Back to School Checklist

  • Be sure your child knows his or her phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult, and how to use 911 for emergencies.
  • Plan a direct, safe way to walk to school or the bus stop with your child, and take time to walk it with them. Insist that they do not deviate from this route for any reason.
  • Teach children, whether walking, biking, or riding the bus, to obey all traffic signals, signs, crossing guards, and police officers. Remind them to use extra caution when weather turns bad.
  • If possible, arrange for them to walk with friends, neighbors, or another group.
  • When carpooling, pick up or deliver children as close to the school as possible. Make sure they are on school grounds or in the building before leaving.
  • Teach your child safety with strangers. Remember that a stranger is anyone you or your children do not know well or do not trust.
  • Make sure your child checks in with a designated adult as soon as they arrive home from school. Make sure you know when activities will make them later than normal.
  • Take time to listen to your children and ask often how their school day went. Take any complaints about bullies, fears, or other concerns seriously and discuss them with the school if appropriate.

NetSmartz Workshop

Another useful site is the NetSmartz Workshop, which provides parents and children with interactive education about internet safety.