Child abduction. It's every parent's worst nightmare. But when it comes to preventing child abduction, knowledge is power, says Dr. Bunni Tobias, a licensed educational psychologist in Lake Forest, California. Here are Dr. Tobias' tips on helping your preteen stay safe.
Really listen to your preteen. When she talks to you, stop what you're doing, make eye contact, and pay attention to what she's saying. This is not only a great way to keep informed on what your child is doing and who she's doing it with, but it also shows your preteen that you care about what she says and will be there to listen when big issues come up as well.
Affirm your child often. One of the ways predators attract victims is by making them feel special. If your child already feels good about herself, she'll be less likely to seek inappropriate attention.
Ask questions that open the door to awareness. Ask your child what feels good about her day. Find out if she felt frustrated or annoyed by anything. Did anything or anyone cause her to feel uncomfortable or scared? This gives your child the vocabularyand the permissionto talk about sensitive issues.
Discuss the possibilities. A preteen is old enough to know that the world is not always a safe place, but that she has the power to stay safe. Discuss possible dangers and then empower your child to handle them. Ask how she would deal with being followed. What would she do if she felt threatened or uncomfortable with an online "friend"? Talk through her options and create a solid plan she can use to get through these situations.
Teach alertness. Use family trips, mall outings, even walks through your neighborhood to hone your child's observational and survival skills. Teach her to look around and really see the environment and people around her. Help her identify safe places to go if she ever feels afraid.
Learn more about keeping your children safe at www.kidznpower.com.