Holiday Shopping Safety for Kids and Families
● By Digital Media Director
By: Tiger Rock
The holiday season can be a fun and
joyful time of year; however it's also a time of year when we need to be
extra-cautious when we are out and about with our kids. So when you are out and
about this holiday season enjoying time with your family here are some tips
that will help keep you safer.
1. Talk to your kids before leaving the house and make a rule that there are no electronics while moving through crowds of people. Remind them you must always be able to see them and they must always be able to see you. It may sound simple, but keep reminding them periodically.
2. Once arriving at your destination make sure to mark your location. Get out of your vehicle and take a picture with your cell phone making sure to have an identifying object in the picture, is one way to help you remember later, especially if you are going to be there for an extended amount of time. If arriving during the day and you know it will be dark before you leave park close to a light.
3. When entering make sure to agree on a "meeting place" ahead of time, in case you become separated. For example one of the best meeting places for younger kids in a mall would be a women’s clothing store. Strangers that want to take kids will go to places where they have the highest percentage of finding kids.
4. Never leave your kid(s) alone at video arcades, movie theaters, play areas, or other public places. Predators are known to look for unsupervised kids.
5. Let your kid(s) know that it’s not what a person looks like that makes them unsafe; it's what they do that makes them unsafe.
6. A simple stranger rule to practice: “If I don’t know you, I can’t go near you, I can’t go with you and I can’t take anything from you.” Kids have been known to leave with a stranger because they seemed nice or maybe didn’t look like a stranger.
7. Stranger alarm to practice: “Stop! Don’t! Touch! Me! Stranger!”Have your kid(s) practice punching the words out one at a time, making sure they are saying it loud but not screaming. This way other people can clearly understand what they are saying. Tell them they should use this stranger alarm if they are grabbed or simply fill scared.
8. Tell your kid(s) to never leave the mall or store when looking for you, no matter what anyone tells them. Remind your kid(s) that you would never leave until you are reunited.
9. Always take restroom breaks together. Statistically, the men's room isn't the safest place for a kid to use alone. If you feel comfortable letting your older kid(s) (at least 9 years old) use the men's room alone, stand outside the door and as he enters say something like, "I'll be right here if you need me.” It's a clear message to anyone who may be hanging around in there that there's a parent close by. Your kid is less of a target if a potential predator thinks there's a chance he could be caught.
10. Keep cell phone use to a minimum as this can be a huge distraction. If you must take a phone call or have an extended text conversation have your family stop and wait until you are done. This will help us avoid that panic moment where we look around and we don’t know where everyone went.
11. Before leaving the establishment remind everyone where you parked, gather all of your things, get your key’s out of your pocket or purse holding your thumb on the panic button just in case.
12. If 2 adults are available when walking to the car than walk in an adult, kid(s) adult pattern. If not and you have multiple kids have the oldest walk in front with the youngest in between or right by you. Also keep you head up and look under and around as you approach vehicle.