The killing of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky in New York City is a stark reminder of how important it is to talk with our children about staying safe when we’re not around.
While we may want to watch over our children 24/7, it’s just not realistic or healthy. Children need the freedom to grow and handle more responsibility, but you must be sure they are ready and the appropriate age. A staggering 98 percent of children are abducted by someone they know. So it’s not about not talking to strangers; it’s about teaching kids the truth and the realities of the world.
Here are questions you should ask yourself to determine whether your child is ready to walk home alone.
- Do you have open, honest communication with your child? Have you taught her about the realities of life — the good, the bad and the ugly?
- Does your child know how to stand up for himself, especially in stressful situations? Is he confident and aware?
- Does your child know that just because someone is an adult it doesn’t mean they can tell her to do things she knows is wrong? While children should respect adults, you should also teach them that doing what is right is more important
- Does your child know how and who to ask for help, such as a police officer
- Does your child understand how to pay attention to trust his instincts?
- Does your child know that it’s okay to fight back to get away or out of a dangerous situation?
- Does your child know what to do if something does happen? What to scream? What to do? Where to go?
- Does your child know that she should never get into a car or go anywhere with someone she doesn’t know
- Does he know your neighborhood inside out and have a good sense of direction
- Does she know how to operate a cell phone to contact 911 or you?
For help on how to talk to your kids about strangers and other important topics, visit www.kidshealth.org.
Learn what to do yourself teach your child and trust your instincts. Only you will know when they are ready. The horrific tragedy that struck a small community in New York earlier this week should be a reminder to all parents that open dialogue and communication with your children is key to their success and their safety.