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Child Safety Tips for Families

National Missing Children Services, National Police Service 
Royal Canadian Mounted Police 
Child Safety Tips for Families 
by Marlene Dalley, Ph.D.

Children need to play and learn in an environment where they are safe and secure. Nonetheless, the safety of children rests primarily with the parent or care giver. This responsibility cannot be abdicated. Additionally, preparing for an unsafe world comes after the child feels secure in their home-school-play environment. This security can be accomplished by strengthening the child's personal power. Encourage children to make choices and decisions daily and engage in regular family discussions. Effective 'street proofing' begins at home .

1. Teach children their name (especially their last name), address, telephone number and parents' names, places of work and contact numbers. Also, how to Dial 911 at home and from a public telephone in an emergency situation. Keep in mind that the extent of information learned will depend upon the child's age and maturity level. To help children remember, review this important information often and reward progress.

2. Insist that very young children hold the supervising adult's hand continually while walking to and from stores, play areas, school grounds, camping and the like. Older children should stay close by the parent.

3. Children must be taught not to wander away from you in public places or play 'hide and seek'. If they become separated or lost, teach them to tell someone with a name tag, a cashier or a security guard right away, preferably a female.

4. Encourage children to travel in groups , regardless of their age. The popular " buddy system " works best

5. Insist that children check with you before accepting a ride, gift or candy from someone , even if they know the person. Children should be told that adults do not ask children for help.

6. Always have a family secret code word that only the family knows. This code must be used to identify the "safe" person if a child is to be picked up in an emergency situation by someone other than their parent or care giver. In addition, a child should never leave with anyone without notifying the person in charge .

7. Teach children it's OK to say "NO" . Also, if a person tries to grab or restrain them, teach them to scream loudly , scatter belongings, knock over furniture, make a loud noise and shout, "THIS PERSON IS NOT MY PARENT."

8. Take your child around the neighbourhood where they frequently walk and play, pointing out 'safe houses' - houses they should feel safe to approach or enter in an emergency.

9. Establish a ' Communication Center ' in your home so you will know where family members are at all times. It should be set up in a prominent, easily accessible location, supplied with sufficient pencils and paper to write notes, and where a list of important contact and emergency numbers are posted.

10. Never give an infant to anyone not known well to hold or watch for a moment . The same tip applies to the care and supervision of young children.

11. Never leave a small child unattended in a car or vehicle. Children have been known to perish in a car fire, wander away from the vehicle and become lost and traumatized by an accidental abduction when the vehicle was stolen. Never justify to yourself that it is safe to leave your child ' just for a minute '.

12. Be cautious of persons asking to take photos of your child . If you notice someone, for example, in a park taking photos, leave the area. A person with a legitimate reason will ask permission and show you identification.

13. Promise your children that you would never abandon them.

14. Assure your child that they would be told immediately by a family member or 'good' friend if a parent(s) dies.

15. Assure your child that if she/he were missing, you would never stop looking for them no matter how long it took to find them. 

        For more information on this brochure, or other safety tips, please contact: 
        Dr. Marlene Dalley, Research Officer 
        Telephone (613) 990-9833 
        National Missing Children Services 
        National Police Services, RCMP 
        1200 Vanier Parkway 
        Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0R2 Canada 
        Toll free general number 1-877-318-3576 
        Facsimile (613) 993-5430
        June 2003

*This information is courtesy of the RCMP