Now that school is back in session, parents are celebrating (probably) and very proud of their child(ren) as they should be. I have noticed lots of posts about kids and their school in the last few days. Something to think about though. When you post photos of your child(ren) and what school they attend and age, this is open to anyone seeing it. There are features that think we are safe from strangers seeing our photos but that really isn’t the case.
Now said stranger knows what your child(ren) look like and where they are. Its similar to posting that you are in the bahamas for a week and your house is a target for burglary. Dont panic, there are ways you can keep your child(ren) safe. Even without social media, kidnappings still happen. Some tips to keep your family safe:
- Try not to share photos with the school name in them
- Avoid posting specifics about the school or your child
- Have a family “password” – if someone attempts to pick your child up from school by using the “your parents were in an accident and they asked me to pick you up”, they can verify by asking for the “password”
- Most schools have a policy where only the identified persons can take the child(ren) out of school – check with the school and get the people with permissions on the list if they have one. (A trusted neighbor or another family member may be a good idea to think about)
- Put your childs name on the inside of their clothes/backpack. It would be easy for someone with malintentions to use their name to get them to come over
- Talk to children about “stranger danger” or if someone they know makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Develop a safety plan for these situations – maybe a whistle to blow to attract attention and to let them know it is ok to get away from strangers or other uncomfortable situations. Its not rude, its potentially life saving
- Talk to the kids about keeping a safe distance away from doors/windows of vehicles. This allows for conversation (someone asking for directions) but staying out of reach
- situational awareness!
Quick story – when I was in elementary school, a dark colored van used to park next to the playground when it was recess and it would stay the duration. We never saw anyone get out or anything but, it would sit there, every day. Someone pointed the van out to the aides, who watched it for a while before calling the DARE officer (we didnt have any local police force, just the sheriff’s department. Town was too small for its own law enforcement) and having him talk to the driver of the van. It disappeared for a few months but eventually the same van came back. It took off when they saw adults. “see something, say something”. It could save a life. This could have been nothing more than someone had a child in the school and they just wanted to see them during recess but it could have been someone who wanted to cause harm.
This post isnt to scare anyone, just something to consider. Keeping families safe starts on the family level.