Words from the Sheriff: Ways to raise streetwise kids

Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant

Start with the basics

Make sure your children know their full name, address (city and state) and phone number with area code.

Tell them never to accept rides or gifts from someone they and you do not know well.

Teach children to go to a store clerk, security guard or police officer for help if lost in a mall or store or on the street.

Set a good example with your own actions – lock doors and windows and see who’s there before opening the door.

Take time to listen carefully to your children’s fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy.  Tell them to trust their instincts.

At school and play

Encourage your children to walk and play with friends, not alone.  Tell them to avoid places that could be dangerous – vacant buildings, alleys, playgrounds or parks with broken equipment and litter.

Teach children to settle arguments with words, not fists, and to walk away when others are arguing.  Remind them that taunting and teasing can hurt friends and make enemies.

Make sure your children are taking the safest routes to and from school, stores and friends’ houses.

Encourage kids to be alert in the neighborhood, and tell an adult – you, a teacher, a neighbor, a police officer – about anything they see that doesn’t seem right.

Check out the school’s policies on absent children – are parents called when a child is absent?

Check out daycare and after school programs – look at certifications, staff qualifications, rules on parent’s permission for field trips, reputation in the community, parent participation and policies on parent’s visits.

Check babysitter’s references.

At home alone

Leave a phone number where you can be reached.  Post it by the phone, along with numbers for a neighbor and emergencies – police and fire departments, paramedic and the poison control center.

Have your child check in with you or a neighbor when he or she gets home,  Agree on rules for having friends over and going to a friend’s house when no adult is home.

Make sure your child knows how to use the window and door locks.

Tell your child not to let anyone into the home without permission, and never to let a caller at the door or on the phone know there is no adult home.  Kids can always say their parents are busy and take a message.

Work out an escape plan in case of fire or other emergencies.  Rehearse with you children. 

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