PERSONAL SAFETY FOR CHILDREN
Establishing a system of "family rules" about personal safety can be a good way to teach children to distinguish between safe and non-safe situations. Many families already have rules about bedtime, TV watching, chores, etc. By adopting rules about personal safety, parents can teach good habits through reinforcement and repetition without generating excessive fear. The following are suggestions for personal safety rules that can be incorporated into a family routine.
Kids should know their complete home address, telephone number including area code and parents' first and last names.
If kids are old enough to answer the phone they should know how to call 9-1-1. Practice with receiver button taped down.
Kids should be taught never to reveal any personal (their name, school, age, etc.) or family information over the phone unless parent has given permission. If kids are home alone and answer a phone call for an absent parent, they should say "she can't come to the phone right now," and take a message or tell the caller to try later- don't make excuses, they sound phony.
It's OK not to answer the phone, or to work out a code (ring twice, hang up and call again) so a parent can check on a child that is home alone.
Kids are old enough to answer the door when they are old enough to check the identity of the person at the door without opening it.
Kids should help their parent make sure doors that should be locked are locked.
Establish a system of accountability. Learn the full names of your kids ' friends, their parents, names, addresses, and phone numbers. Check to verify the accuracy if you get the information from your kids. When your child is at a friend's home and who else is present? Parents? Older kids? Other neighbors? No one?
Know your child's routes to and from school, play and errands. Insist they stick to the same route -no shortcuts! If you have to look for them, you will know where to begin.
Kids should be taught not to go anywhere with anyone without parental permission. This includes getting permission a second time if plans change and calling to check before going from one friend's home to another location.
Kids should never play in isolated areas of parks or playgrounds, arid should avoid public restrooms, building sites and dark or lonely streets.
Teach kids alternatives: if they are bothered or followed on the playground, walking to friend's home, school or store, where do they go? Walk these common routes with your child and look for choices. Can they go back into the school, in a store or business (kids are reluctant to enter a strange store or business unless you give them permission,) into a fire station or approach someone doing yard work? Knocking on a door of a stranger is a last resort. If they have no other choice they should look for a house with a light on (at night) or toys in the yard if possible. Ask the homeowner to "Please call the police, someone is bothering me," but not to go inside the house.
Kids' best defenses are their voices and their legs. Teach them to run away from someone who is bothering them while yelling to attract as much attention as is possible.
Teach kids not to approach cars that stop to ask for help. Most legitimate adults would not ask a young child for directions anyway. If the car follows them or the driver gets out they should run away and yell.
BAD GUY RULES:
Teach kids that "bad guys" can be anyone; society teaches kids bad guys are always ugly, mean and scary, and look like monsters. Bad guys are almost always portrayed as strangers-
Remember, a stranger is someone who is not known by the child. A friend of parents, a friend of the child's friend or a neighbor can be a stranger. And a stranger can be a good guy or a bad guy-
Some bad guys act nice, friendly and attractive. Some bad guys play tricks on kids. Typical bad guys tricks include bribes (money, toys, games, or promises of those things), lies (your mother told me to pick you up at school), requests for help (My puppy ran away, can you help me find him?), or threats (if you don't come with me I'll hurt your mom).
Teach kids that a bad guy is someone who asks them to violate family rules, e.g. someone who says they don't need permission to accompany them.
Develop a family "code word". If someone other than a parent is going to pick up a kid at school, that person should repeat the "code word" first before the kid agrees to leave the safety of the school grounds. The code word should remain a secret and be changed should others learn it.
Keeping Your Child Safe
One of the primary missions of the Lowell Police Department is to help our citizens live in this community in safety.
The following information will help with:
- How to make a home DNA kit for your child
- Safety Tips for protecting your youth and
- Forms to make your own identification kits which include finger prints.
Parents our encouraged to utilize this information. If any questions arise or further information is needed please contact Safety First Officer Paul Corcoran at 978-937-3210.
Help Your Kids Stay Safe
- Update Fingerprint/Identification Card and DNA Kits frequently and keep in a safe and accessible location.
- Teach your child their complete name, address and phone number (including area code) at a very early age. Teach them how to make collect calls from a pay phone.
- Keep all emergency numbers within view of your phone. Teach your children how to call 911.
- A child should never answer the door without an adult present.
- When answering the phone they should not give out personal information and never tell a caller they are alone.
- NOTHING IS BETTER THAN PARENTAL SUPERVISION. Your children should receive permission and NEVER go anywhere alone. Encourage your children to use the Buddy System, two or more children when playing or walking to and from school.
- Warn your children not to talk to strangers. Explain what a stranger is. A stranger is "anyone" you and your children do not know well.
- Your children should never answer questions, give directions, accept gifts or help an unfamiliar person find anything.
- Warn your children never to approach a vehicle. If approached, a child should be taught to run in the opposite direction the vehicle is traveling.
- Children should be prepared. Teach your children the facts about abduction early. If handled simply as another fact of life - another coping skill - children need not be inordinately frightened about the topic of abduction.
- Children should be taught what areas of their body are private and should not be touched by anyone.
- Children should be encouraged to trust their instinct. If your children see someone suspicious or something that makes them feel uncomfortable they be taught to run to safety. If someone unfamiliar approaches them they should "Scream and Run."
- Coordinate a "Crime Watch" program in your neighborhood. This will bring your community together to create a safer environment for all neighborhood children. Call your local law enforcement agency for more information.
- Instill confidence in your children by always having open, loving and gentle communication. Learn to listen.
- Love and cuddle your children. Children need consistent affection from the key figures in their life. Many pedophiles will shower a child with affection in an attempt to gain their trust and manipulate sexual activity.
- An important tip for all ages - In an abduction situation you have a better chance of surviving if you do everything in your power to avoid being taken to a second crime scene.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid)
DNA can be used by law enforcement to identify missing or lost children or missing adults who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. The DNA could also be used to identify unknown deceased persons or persons involved in major disasters, by comparing the deceased's DNA with a DNA sample taken previously.
A current set of dental records, fingerprints and an ID card are also recommended.
Finger Print and Homemade DNA Kit:
You may download forms for both finger prints and homemade DNA kit by clicking these links.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to open and print the forms. If you do not have Acrobat installed, get a free copy here:
If you need help or have questions please feel free to call Officer Paul Corcoran at 978-937-3210.
Emergency Line 911:
Lowell Police Department Main Number 978-937-3200
Lowell Police Department Criminal Investigation Division 978-937-3242
Child at Risk Hotline 1-800- 792-5200
Parental Stress Hotline 1-800-632-8188
Domestic Violence Resource Center 978-970-4023
National Center For Missing and Exploited Children 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.missingkids.org
Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board 978- 740-6400 or http://www.state.ma.us/sorb