Thursday, January 11, 2007
Don't Be a Victim: Kids' Public Safety
Almost every day, South Florida parks are packed with children. But before you and your family hit the swings, you need to set some safety guidelines. Seven's Tom Haynes is here with tonight's Don't Be A Victim.
Officer Frank Jackson with the Coral Gables Police Department says that's how quickly a predator can entice your child away.
Officer Frank Jackson: "They're going to try to create a dialogue that is friendly and engaging to the child on that child's level."
So, what are parents to do? First, remember the three-second rule.
Officer Frank Jackson: "Three seconds away -- within sights and sound. This applies whether you're at a park, at a mall, you're at a theater or you're at Disney World."
Teach your child to stay close, and make them tell you their every move.
Frank Jackson: "Even if you are in a comfort area, a comfort zone where you're in a park that you do frequent a lot, have your child tell you where he or she is going, where they are going to be."
This happens to everyone. But, parents, don't get distracted, and when you first arrive at the park, be on the lookout.
Officer Frank Jackson: "If you're at a park, take inventory of who's there and whose child belongs with whom right when you get there."
Beware of adults who are alone.
Officer Frank Jackson: "An individual that is at a park without a kid that is primarily a park structured for young children, like you see behind me."
Or beware anyone paying too much attention to kids.
Officer Frank Jackson: "The other cue would be an [adult] overly zealous in engaging children in conversation. Playing with them."
Next, teach your child the difference between yelling and screaming.
"In the park behind me, there might be seven or eight kids out there screaming and having a good time. It really doesn't draw the attention of anyone around."
But when a child yells, people listen. So, teach your kids to yell out something like: "No! You're not my dad!"
And, finally, before you leave home with your child, take note of what they are wearing. That way you can give a good description if your child disappears.
Officer Frank Jackson: "I know it's hard, and it's difficult. But, unfortunately, there are individuals out there who prey on children, and it is becoming easier and easier for them with the information out there."
And if your child does go missing, call police first. Then look, because seconds count.