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Keeping kids safe whilst out and about

How to keep teenagers asfe
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When my daughter was born I felt like my eyes had suddenly been opened to all the dangers in the world. I imagined trouble lurking at every turn and her growing independence has sent my parental-protection chip into overdrive. I know I must allow her the freedom she deserves to blossom into the unique, special and amazing adult she will hopefully become, so how can I help her stay safe while it happens?

Young Children Out and About with You

It’s impossible to keep your eyes on your child every second. In busy environments it’s the easiest thing in the world to lose track of their whereabouts. My 18 month old son once wandered off in a car park while I paid for my ticket. I literally took my eyes off him for just 10 seconds – the following 30 were the longest of my entire life until I found him two cars away about to scratch a BMW with a pebble. I beat myself up for weeks about the incident and vowed to be more vigilant thereafter by keeping these tips in mind:

Keeping kids safe whilst out and about

Think about doing some of these

  • Operating on a tag-team basis when I was out with another grown-up – one of us always had responsibility for eye contact, and if out alone and I knew I’d be distracted he held my hand until the job was done
  • Using reins – I confess I’m not a fan of these, but respect any parent who feels they work to keep their child safe. Whatever works for you, right?
  • Never allowing my child to use a public toilet alone
  • Reminding my little ones to avoid talking to strangers, even when I’m close by
  • Ensuring any travel on public transport was executed with me in close proximity to my children at all times
  • Arranging meeting points with my kids in case one of them got lost
  • Giving my younger children a note with contact details to pass to a ‘safe’ adult if they were lost and didn’t know what to do – this has given me great peace of mind here in France where my son has yet to pick up the language properly but still goes out and about with school – his little ‘Mummy note’ helps him feel secure, and stops me fretting all day

Young Children Out Alone

Statistically speaking, Stranger Danger is actually very rare. Most crimes against youngsters are perpetrated by those who are known to them. But still, part of preparing our little ones for independence is to make them aware of the potential dangers they may encounter. We can do this by:

  • Encouraging cautiousness around strangers when Mum and Dad are not there
  • Making sure they know NEVER to walk away with a stranger
  • Instilling in them a sense of responsibility around sharing with you if they have been approached by a stranger – this is no time for secrets
  • Showing your child how to find safety in numbers if they find themselves alone – sitting close to families on a bus or train, for example
  • Establishing rules about the use of public toilets and lifts – never go in alone, and always leave if you feel uncomfortable
  • Teaching them their address and telephone number so they can recite it by heart
  • Giving them options – it’s okay to approach a Police Officer, parents with children, or shop workers if they feel they need help

The Teenage Factor

I was surprised and disturbed to learn that more crimes are committed against teens as an age group than any other. Getting teens to absorb dull parental safety advice is never going to be easy, but it’s important to try. Make sure you recite the following safety advice to your teen at every opportunity, and hopefully some if it will sink in:

  • Keep alert and aware of your environment at all times, especially when wearing headphones
  • Don’t take dodgy shortcuts through deserted alleyways or parks, and stick to well-lit roads and pathways
  • If travelling by bus or train, choose a place to wait that is busy, well lit and not isolated
  • Carrying weapons is never a good idea and can make you more of a target
  • If they are mugged, let the stuff go – objects can be replaced
  • Trust your instincts – if a situation feels unsafe then do something about it – call a cab, cross the road, move yourself to a busy area with other people around
  • Keep valuables out of sight to avoid being a target for thieves
  • Carry a whistle or alarm in your pocket and activate it to deter unwanted attention from suspicious strangers
  • Speak up if you are being bullied – it’s never okay, and can be dealt with if you have support

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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