In honor of Child Safety and Protection Month, we're revisiting our child safety interview with Gary Sikorski. Here are three key takeaways from our conversation with Mr. Sikorski, Deputy Police Chief, child safety expert and Personal Safety Academy instructor.
- It's never too early to talk about safety
You don't have to incite fear in your child in order to convey a safety message. Thing about safety as a series of habits like being aware of your surroundings, locking the doors, trusting your gut and not talking to strangers. One of Sikorski's training mottos is: A person who is habitually prepared to protect themselves or their family will rarely have to.
- Safety knowledge and responsibility should grow along with your child
"At an early age, children/toddlers should be taught their full name and their parents' names," says Sikorski. As time goes on, children should know their address and phone number. They should also know proper terminology for their anatomy, including where it's not OK to be touched.
As children graduate into preschool, they should know how to call 911 - you can teach this by role-playing and posing as a 911 operator.
At the elementary school age, kids should learn that any adult asking them for help shouldn't be trusted. Would your child know what to do if a strange man approached asking for help finding a lost dog?
When kids start using the internet, they should know not to give out personal information online. They should know which websites they're allowed to go on.
Middle and high school students should understand bystander intervention, so that they can stick up for peers in need.
- A personal alarm is a $10 investment in your child's safety
You've probably started a college savings account, life insurance or similar policy for your child - so why not invest in a kid-friendly personal safety tools? "Personal alarms are a great way for a child to summon help and draw attention in an emergency," explains Sikorski. Simply having the personal alarm on hand can also remind your child to be aware of their surroundings and avoid risky behavior.
However, Sikorski maintains that the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to child safety is that you can't rely on the above tips alone to keep your little one out of harm! As a parent, it's your responsibility to act as a safety net should your child forget their safety knowledge in an emergency.