Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Top 10 Back to School Safety Tips for Tweens

Given our recent post with the latest study results finding that tween girls are the most at risk for abduction, here are the "Top 10" back to school safety rules for tweens (borrowed liberally from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) website:
  1. Travel in packs: always TAKE A FRIEND with when walking or biking, and stay with a group while standing at the bus stop. 
  2. Stay in the light: whenever walking places, even familiar routes, NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS and always stay in well-lit areas. Parent can point out landmarks and coach tweens on safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help.
  3. Trust your gut - if it feels unsafe, go with that. If anyone bothers them, makes them feel scared or uncomfortable to TRUST YOUR FEELINGS and immediately get away from that person.  
  4. It's okay to be rude sometimes: parents of tween girls especially need to coach their daughters and tell them it is ok not to be polite at all times, and IT IS OK TO SAY NO. 
  5. Go ahead - make a scene: Teach your tween if anyone tries to take them somewhere they should RESIST by kicking and screaming, try to run away and DRAW ATTENTION by kicking and screaming “This person is trying to take me away” or “This person is not my father/mother.” Staying out of a would-be abductor's vehicle is crucial.
  6. There's no such thing as a free ride: Teach your tween NOT TO ACCEPT A RIDE from anyone unless you have said it is ok in that instance.  If anyone follows them in a vehicle they should turn around, go in the other direction, and run to a trusted adult who may help them.
  7. Ignore adults - at least when they ask for you directions: Tweens should know that grownups do NOT ASK CHILDREN FOR DIRECTIONS. It's a red flag if someone does. 
  8. No handouts: tweens should NEVER ACCEPT MONEY OR GIFTS from anyone unless a parent has told them it is ok to accept in each instance.
  9. Paperwork, paperwork: Make sure the school has current and accurate emergency contact information is on file for kids your and CONFIRM NAMES of those authorized.
  10. Check in early; check in often: Always know where your tween will be. Teach your children to always CHECK FIRST before changing their plans before or after school.  Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they CHECK FIRST with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency. We're explicit with our tweens that cell phones are not for after-the-face - they're for before-the-change.
According to the study authors, kids are their own best savior in these situations, so coach your tweens!
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