Tips to keep kids safe as they travel to and from school

Ready 4 School
Kid Safety_304212

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Parents never want to think about their child being abducted, but it’s an important conversation to have.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says kids are the most vulnerable when they’re walking to school or home. They say most abductions take place between 2 and 7p.m.

It’s a common misconception that little ones are the most at risk, but research shows children between the ages of 10 and 14, are most likely to be approached.

In order for kids to stay safe, it’s recommended that they travel in groups. If someone approaches them, kids should be empowered to say no. They should also check with a parent or guardian before doing anything that wasn’t previously scheduled. If that person can’t be reached, it’s advised that children should assume the answer is no.

“I always tell kids when I speak to them, if a car approaches you and you don’t recognize it, don’t even go near it. If someone yells out the window, ‘I need directions.’ I always tell children to say no and get out of there,” Kathy Gust, Program Director at the Buffalo office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said.

Children should also let an adult know what happened afterward. That way parents can report it to police if needed.

Experts recommend that parents discuss these issues with their children when they’re young and have the conversation often.

If a child walks to the bus stop, school, or park, they should map out the route. Experts say parents should point out places they can go for help and safe neighbors they can turn to if needed.

Parents are also encouraged to teach kids about the tricks abductors use, such as asking for candy, if they need a ride, or if they want to pet an animal. Another common one, is the bad kid scenario. The abductor accuses a child of doing something wrong and says they should go with them. They could also trick them by telling them, they should be a model. That if they go with the abductor, they’ll be famous.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends that parents should role play the scenarios, so kids are prepared.

Lastly, over the years, “Stranger danger” has been a common phrase used to teach kids not to talk to people they don’t know. NCMEC says it’s misleading and may put kids at a disadvantage. As a result, they don’t use it anymore.

“A child may not see this nice man who’s looking for his puppy as a stranger. He’s just a nice man looking for his puppy. So, they may not associate the dangers or risks with going with that person,” Gust said.

Research shows that children usually associate a stranger with someone mean. Therefore, kids get confused when a nice person walks up, asking them if they want candy.

The stranger danger phrase also doesn’t take into account that most kids are abducted by people they know. “That’s why it’s so important to hammer home the rule of check first before going anywhere,” Gust reinforced.

When you talk to you kids, you can give them these guidelines from NCMEC. Don’t tell them to never talk to strangers. Instead, if they need help, they should look for a police officer or store clerk with a name tag.

It’s also recommended, not to suggest that someone is bad just by looking at them. Instead, tell kids to pay attention to people. Encourage them to tell a trusted adult if anyone asks them to keep a secret, makes them feel uncomfortable, or tries to get them to go anywhere.

Here’s a link with more helpful tips:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss