Few things are as precious as the life of a child, and parents have sleepless nights worrying about their little treasures. In light of a dramatic potential kidnapping incident at a restaurant in Florida, here are a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.
– Be aware of your surroundings: Always keep an eye out for strangers loitering nearby. Kidnappings happen in a matter of seconds so avoid being distracted by your phone and other devices, or activities that may leave you unaware of your surroundings. If you see anything untoward, report it to the authorities.
– Plan against possibly dangerous areas: Preempt spots where you can become separated from your children easily and where they can disappear in the masses. Teach your children always to be in a well-protected and monitored area where a responsible adult or authority is nearby. Start right at your own doorstep to make sure that every step from your home is thoroughly secured against would-be kidnappers.
– Know your emergency contacts: A two-way line of communication should be available between parents and children at all times. Instruct your children to call you immediately when something is amiss or when there’s a change in plans that they haven’t cleared with you, even if it comes from someone they know well. They should also know their own address, home phone number, your cellphone number and emergency contact numbers.
– Confirm identification: Instil a healthy sense of scepticism in your children. When someone claims to be an official or to know you, insist that they check with you to verify this.
– Keep your friends close: Children should always be close to their parents, particularly in busy, public spaces. If your children go out, they should always take a friend with them, especially to a place they haven’t been before. Ideally, a responsible adult should also be in the vicinity in case something goes awry.
– Make sure the school has done its homework: Your child’s school must have proactive measures in place against kidnapping and enforce these to ensure your child’s safety.
– Have a backup plan: Your children should always know what they should do and where they should meet you if they are lost in a public area. This will help even if you don’t have cellphone reception.
– Move as fast as you can, make as much noise as possible: If someone follows your children and tries to restrain them or force them into a car, they should run and scream as loudly as they can.
– Tracking apps and panic buttons: Use technology at your disposal to know where your kids are at all times and to allow them to alert you immediately if need be.