1. Walk with a buddy, never alone. Map the route to and from school and an alternative route that a child can use if someone is following them.
2. Make a list of all important phone numbers and laminate it. Attach it to the inside of the child's backpack. If they can't reach Mom or Dad, they'll have the number of a grandparent, aunt or uncle.
3. Know where safe spots are. If a child needs to run for help (after a bike wreck or someone approaching them), they need to know where the fire stations are along their route as well as Quik Trip stores. Both are designated as safe places in Tulsa. Also, check tulsapolice.org for sex offenders along the route, so your child knows never to run to that house in an emergency.
4. Talk to your children about scenarios, not strangers. Kids don't have the same definition of strangers as adults. Many offenders will sit outside soccer practice and learn the kids names to make them seem more familiar and less a stranger. Ask children what if questions. Examples are: What if someone tells you I've been in a car wreck and they need to bring you to me? What if someone says they want to take your picture to put you on a calendar or make you a model? What if someone says they want to give you money or candy? What if someone says they're looking for their lost dog or kitten? Teach them not to get in a car or go into a home. Tell them to scream, run and tell an adult.
5. Have a family code word. Children should never go with anyone who doesn't know the family code word, no matter what that person's story. Make sure the code word is restricted to a few important family members or friends.
6. If someone grabs them, teach children to kick, scream, bite, anything possible not to be put into someone's vehicle. If they're riding a bike and someone grabs them, they should hold on to the bike with all their strength. The suspect wants it to be quick and easy. It's much harder to get a kid and bicycle into a car.
7. Have a family meeting spot. If there's a tornado or a house fire or some type of other emergency, everyone should know where to go so the family can reunite.
8. Bullies use intimidation as their main weapon. Teach your child to stand up tall, look the bully in the eye and stay calm. They can say things like, "I don't like that." "Stop talking to me that way." "Why would you say that?" They should learn that walking away and telling an adult is brave.
9. If a child is home alone after school, the doors need to be closed and locked at all times. They should not pretend no one is home if someone knocks. They need to tell the person their mom or dad is in the shower or on the phone and can't come to the door. If someone claims they need help, the child can tell that person 911 has been called and police are one the way. Children should check in with parents each day at an appointed time.
10. Carry a whistle and a cell phone. A whistle is a great crime prevention tool. It's loud and signals danger. Children should have it accessible, on their backpack or around their neck or wrist. Parents who have old cell phones sitting around that no longer have service, will still dial 911. Charge the battery and send it with the child in case of emergencies.
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