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Tips for Parents

Teens & Computers

The best way to ensure your children's safety on the Internet is to be there. Of course, that is not always possible. Just as you teach your child rules about dealing with strangers outside the home, you must provide rules for communicating online.
Talk with Your Teens About What They Can and Cannot Do Online
Be reasonable and set reasonable expectations. Try to understand their needs, interests, and curiosity. Remember what it was like when you were their age.
Be Open with Your Teens and Encourage Them to Come to You if They Encounter a Problem Online
If they tell you about someone or something they encountered, your first response should not be to blame them or take away their Internet privileges. Work with them to help them avoid problems in the future, and remember how you respond will determine whether they confide in you the next time they encounter a problem and how they learn to deal with problems on their own.
Learn Everything You Can About the Internet
Ask your teen to show you what's cool. Have them show you great places for teens and fill you in on areas that you might benefit from as well. Make "surfing the net" a family experience. Use it to plan a vacation, pick out a movie, or check out other family activities. This may be one area where you get to be the student and your kid gets to be the teacher.
Check Out Blocking, Filtering and Ratings
As you may know, there are now services that rate web sites for content as well as filtering programs and browsers that empower parents to block the types of sites they consider to be inappropriate. These programs work in different ways. Some block sites know to contain objectionable material. Some prevent users from entering certain types of information such as their name and address. Other programs keep your kids away from chat rooms or restrict their ability to send or read E-mail. Generally, the parent to block only the types of sites can configure these programs that they consider to be objectionable.

Regardless of whether you use a filtering program, you should still be sure that your teen follows all of the basic rules suggested here. Filtering programs are not a substitute for good judgment or critical thinking. With or without filters, kids and their parents need to be "net savvy."

Drug Tips For Parents

You should be concerned if you notice the following:
  • A change in friends;
  • Grades in school are dropping;
  • Discipline problem in school,
  • Behavioral changes such as being irritable, forgetful, loss of interest in school functions, secretive;
  • Music that talks about drugs, murder, suicide, Satanism;
  • Stealing things from home or stores (the items are not used for personal use but are traded or sold to other kids for money;
  • Motor skills, speech or eyes that do not appear normal;
  • Strange odor on their clothes;
  • Defends use of drugs or become apprehensive when drugs are discussed in conversation.
Start spending a lot of personal time on a daily basis with your child. Do a lot of assorted activities with them. Be observant, objective and listen. Show them a lot of love and attention. The more time you spend with someone the more you get to know him or her.

Child Abduction

  • Never assume your child will not be abducted always act as though it could happen.
  • Establish solid communication with your child. Develop open dialogue so he or she can confide in you in case of trouble.
  • Never leave young children unattended (at home, in a parked car, shopping cart or in a public restroom).
  • Make certain your child knows his or her full name, your name, address and telephone number, including area code. Teach him or her to use the telephone.
  • Have pictures taken yearly. For preschoolers, pictures should be updated quarterly.
  • Keep records of fingerprints, footprints, dental and doctor information, birthmarks and birth certificates. You should keep copies of x-rays as hospitals do not keep such records for more than a few years.
  • Tell baby-sitters or friends caring for the child not to let your child go with anyone but you.
  • Teach your child to avoid people they do not know.
  • Explain to your child that a stranger is someone they do not know, nor do you.
  • Teach your child that adults usually do not ask children for directions. If someone should stop in a car asking directions, tell your child not to go to the car.
  • Have your child practice the buddy system until old enough that this system is not necessary.
  • Caution your child not to play in deserted places. There is safety in numbers.
  • Teach your child the facts of abduction early. If handled simply as another fact of life children need not be inordinately frightened by the idea of abduction.
  • Establish strict procedures regarding who will pick up your child from school and be meticulously consistent.
  • Teach your child never to go anywhere with anyone who doesn't know a family "Code" word.
  • Make sure that your child does not have his or her name on a visible place such as clothing or belongings. It makes it harder for strangers to be on a first name basis with your child.
  • Know as much as possible about your ex-spouse and his or her friends and relatives. Pay attention to threats of stealing the child. Watch for attitude changes and/or unstable behavior in your ex-spouse. Be aware of how a life-style change by you or your spouse might affect him or her.
  • Explain to your child that if they are home alone not to open the door for anyone except previously designated persons. This includes a salesperson or delivery person.
  • Teach your child never to answer the telephone and tell anyone that he or she is home alone. If someone should call, instruct your child to make a prepared statement such as, "Daddy/Mommy cannot come to the phone right now ... can I take a message."
  • Teach older children to come home at dark.
  • Remind older children to phone home.
  • Know who your child's friends are, where they live, and their telephone numbers.
  • Beware of any adult that showers your child with an inordinate amount of attention and/or presents. No one should care more about your child than you.
  • Be aware that a pedophile is usually an adult whose sexual preference is confined to youngsters. The classic pedophile preys on runaways or children from unhappy homes. He showers the child with affection. By the time sexual activity takes place, the child is often an uncomplaining partner and it goes unreported. Please show your child appropriate affection.
  • Teach your child that if they are being followed not to hide behind bushes, but to go where there are people or to a safe house.
  • Teach your child that it is appropriate to "make a scene" if he or she senses danger from an adult. Teach him or her to yell, "HELP!” or "I DON'T KNOW YOU!” not just scream.

Teaching Children to Use 9-1-1

Parents can use the following safety tips to teach their children the proper way to use 9-1-1 to report emergencies:
  • Never say "nine eleven." There is no eleven on a telephone keypad or dial. Always say "nine-one-one."
  • Always call from a safe place. If there is a fire in the house, get out first and then call.
  • Post your address near the phone.
  • Never call 9-1-1 as a prank or joke. You can get into trouble and keep someone who really needs help from getting it on time.
  • 9-1-1 is not for animal emergencies.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you think you have an emergency and explain the situation to the dispatcher.
  • If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, don't hang up. Explain the mistake to the dispatcher and say there is not emergency.

Latchkey Kids

With the number of single-parent households and two-income families increasing, many children come home after school to an empty house and spend time unsupervised in the summer. To make your child's time alone safe, communication between you and your child concerning safety is essential. Here are some ideas to discuss with your child when preparing them for their time alone.
  • They must memorize their own name, address and phone number, as well as those of their parent's work numbers, and name of company or address. Have them memorize these numbers so when they are away from home, they will be able to get in touch with their parents.
  • Find a trusted neighbor who is at home during the day who can be notified in case of an emergency. Leave a spare key with this neighbor in case keys are misplaced or lost. Do not hide an extra key some place. Always lock the door after entering the residence, including the storm door
  • Never open the door to a stranger. Do not let anyone unfamiliar to you know either on the phone or at the door that you are without adult supervision. You may even want to make a rule that your child does not answer the door or telephone when they are home alone. If you need to call them develop a code such as two rings, hang up, then call again.
  • Go over safety procedures in case of fire or injury. Know how and when to use 911. Teach them how to get out of every room in the house in case they were trapped by fire.
  • Teach them some basic first aid for minor and major injuries for major burns, immerse in cold water or wrap with wet towel, then dial 911 for help. For a deep cut, place a towel directly over the wound, press down hard, and dial 911 for help.
  • The best way to avoid trouble or injury to your child is to not allow them to have any friends in the house when you are not there.
  • If you will be delayed in coming home, call your child and tell them the exact time you will be home. If that changes, call again. Remember, you are going to want them to do the same to you some day.

Crime Prevention for Children

Each year thousands of children are victimized by crime. No matter what your age, sex or race or where you live and go to school, you too can become a victim of crime.
Safety On the Streets
  • Have your Mom or Dad, or both of them, walk your school route with you to make sure it is safe.
  • When your Mom or Dad cannot walk you, walk with a friend. Two heads are better than one, especially if there's an emergency. Strangers usually pick on one person.
  • Always stick to the same route when going and coming from school.
  • Don't take shortcuts.
  • Be observant as you walk. Be aware of your surroundings. If you think you are being followed, you can cross the street.
  • If you think you are in danger, yell "help" and run to the nearest store or back to school.
  • If a stranger in a car asks you questions, don't get close to the car (you could be pulled in) and never get in it.
  • Remember, a stranger is anyone you and your parents don't know or know well.
  • Some adults can tell you what to do, such as a teacher or a police officer. But no adult can tell you what to do just because he or she is older than you. If you're ever in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, you have the right to say NO.
  • Don't tell anyone your name and address when y you are out walking, and don't think that because someone knows your name that they know you, maybe he or she heard someone else call you by name.
  • Establish a code or secret word that only you and your parents know.
  • Safety At School
  • Do not war expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Do not carry more money than you need.
  • Place your money in a secure pocket.
  • Do not stay alone in the hallways between classes.
Safety At Play
  • Do not ride your bicycle in deserted areas. Ride in a group, if possible. Do not ride at night.
  • Do not stay alone in a playground or recreational area. Play in groups and walk home in groups. Stay away from dark and wooded areas. Do not go into abandoned buildings.
  • If something is wrong, scream and run to safety.
  • If you leave your bicycle outside a store or house, secure it with a good lock and chain.
Safety At Home
  • Have your keys ready as you approach your door to enter.
  • Do not attempt to enter your residence if you see suspicious person in front of it or walking behind you. Go to a neighbor you trust.
  • Make sure your door is always locked. If there is a knock at the door always acknowledge it.
  • Do not open your door for strangers, no matter how friendly they seem. If they want to use your phone in an emergency, make the call for them.
  • If you are alone in a house try to keep a radio or television turned on to give the impression that the residence is occupied.
  • Never tell anyone at the door or on the phone that you are alone. Do not give out any information.