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Dad’s Dozen Protects Children

By Dr. Molly Barrow

Fathers, take a moment to feel peaceful love for your children. Then, check out these crucial tips to make your child safer and protect your precious offspring from lurking danger.

1. Now I Know My ABC’s: If your child is old enough to learn their ABC’S, then teach them their phone number instead including 1, area code and number. Beginning at age two, children need to know their first and last names, your first and last names and complete address, including your town and state.

2. Role Play: What if no one picked you up at school? What if someone knocks on the door with a package for you? What if Mom falls down and can not get up? What if someone told you we were dead or sick and wanted you to go with them to the hospital? Do you tell anyone on the phone that you are home alone? Teach your child to make an emergency call by dialing “911” or “0” in an emergency. Law enforcement officials would rather send out an officer on a false alarm then have a kid hurt or kidnapped.

3. Secret Word And Place: Always decide a designated meeting place in theme parks or malls like easily recognized McDonalds Restaurants. Many children, who get separated from their parents, do not consider themselves “lost” if they are still having fun. Be sure to clearly define “lost” as not with Mom or Dad. Make up a secret family pass-phrase that no adult could guess, and that is a funny visual picture your child will remember, such as “The blue hippopotamus is hungry.”  Teach your child to ask permission from their parent, teacher or baby-sitter before they go anywhere.

4. Tingly Tummy: Children have no experience with evil doers, but they do have survival instincts. They may not recognize a kidnapper or predator other than a funny feeling in their stomach that is warning them of creepy danger. Encourage this awareness by asking them in different situations, “Do you feel safe, does this feel right, can you sense danger?” when they are considering jumping off a high place, reaching to pet a strange dog, or when near a too friendly stranger or a loud bully.

5. Behave Appropriately: We teach our children to quietly acquiesce to adults but if they are taken by a stranger teach your child to throw a full blown tantrum, yelling, “Kidnapper, Help” while kicking and trying to break loose. Once they are safely away, they can go to an employee of the store, to a police officer or to a family for help if they get lost, frightened by an attempted kidnapping or predator. Tell your child not to stray from you in a public place because someone might try to steal them.

6. Smile: Police need a full face photo taken within the last six months or if your child is under the age of two, four times a year. Prepare a kit for each child that is an emergency box. Place a current photo, a detailed description of your child, including height, weight, age, eye and hair color, birthmarks, broken bones, scars, moles, physical characteristics or medical needs inside the box. Include names, addresses, and parents' names of your child's friends, favorite parks, and activities. Ask you dentist to prepare a full dental chart on your child that is updated with each new tooth change. Ask your doctor for a copy of your child’s medical records and remind them to note on their chart that information is never to be released without your written approval. Consider keeping in a sealed envelope an old toothbrush, baby teeth, a bloody band aid or a lock of hair as a DNA sample for the highest level of identification. Arrange with your local police department to have your child fingerprinted (officers make it easy and fun) and give you the fingerprint card. Just imagine if someone said your child belonged to them, not you. The contents of the box will help prove you are the parent and help police find the child if he or she is missing. (missingkids.com)

7. Just For A Second: A tired, burnt out parent only needs to drop their guard for a second to allow a predator time to act. Always accompany your child to the bathroom even if other adults act uncomfortable. To protect your child, never hesitate to take a child with you to a men’s or women’s restroom regardless of the sex of the child rather than send them in alone. A child is not safe playing unsupervised in your yard, walking alone, home alone or left in a vehicle, ever. The parents that have a toddler leashed to them may seem harsh but imagine how you would feel if your sweet, attention deficit child or unruly toddler wandered off in the opposite direction. When you have two or more children the difficulty of maintaining safety and order can grow exponentially.

8. You Were Suppose To Be Watching: Is someone drinking while watching the kids and protesting it is only a few beers? Someone needs to be the designated care taker and be sober, watchful, capable and kind. Become aware if your spouse or baby sitter seems oblivious or less sensitive to their duties. Depression, illness, alcohol and drug use in a care taker can leave a child virtually unattended. Do not permit it to continue. If a spouse wants to drink while on duty, sell the car and hire a daycare to keep your children safe. Drop in on babysitters and daycares unexpectedly. Sit around and watch for awhile. Listen to what your child says happens there after you are gone.

9. Check Yourself: Are you attracted to younger and younger people? Do your friends wolf whistle at adolescent girls? Are you looking at pornography that uses young teenage girls or boys made to look older? Usually troubled runaways succumb to posing for these photographs because they are destitute or on drugs. When you buy this kind of pornography you are helping to exploit these children. “Developing and championing “model legislation” with regard to child pornography is crucial to a successful outcome in the fight against child pornography. Strong child pornography legislation is currently in place in only 5 of the 186 Interpol Member Countries,” (www.icmec.org).  Were you molested as a child? Sometimes if you were the victim you become extremely tuned in and more protective. Yet, too often old fear kicks in and leaves you powerless to protect a child, even when the truth is right in front of your eyes. Talk to a therapist confidentially and regain your ability to protect your   children and others from knowing firsthand what you experienced.

10. Can They Tell Dad: Usually a child will try to tell an adult about molestation or incest once. If you do not believe them or tell them they are lying, often they will not tell anyone again. Let a child know that you will listen to them, believe them and stop anyone who tries to hurt them, even if the perpetrator is your best friend, grandpa, a relative or neighbor. Unfortunately, the child often knows the person who hurts them and that causes great confusion and guilt in the child. If a child is fearful or tries to avoid someone, you must pay attention, they are asking for your help. Some people use teasing and joking to grab and touch a child, then make fun of them if they complain. Those adults are using your child and hiding behind humor. Stop them. When your child puts personal information on their clothing or on the Internet it is an open door to every scumbag in the world. Simply say no to your child and explain why.

11. Newborns: In the past twenty years, the highest number of infant abductions has been in California, Texas and Florida. The profile of a typical abductor is an overweight female who usually plans the abduction ahead of time and takes advantage of an opportune moment to seize a baby. The woman often impersonates a nurse or healthcare worker and enters a hospital room and takes the baby for testing, etc. But an abductor could be anyone.

“While it is normal for new parents to be anxious, being deliberately watchful over the newborn infant is of paramount importance. Never leave your infant out of your direct line-of-sight even when you go to the restroom or take a nap. If you leave the room or plan to go to sleep, alert the nurses to take the infant back to the nursery or have a family member watch the baby. .. If you are uncomfortable with anyone who requests to take your infant or unable to clarify what testing is being done or why your infant is being taken from your room, it is appropriate to go with your infant to observe the procedure…have at least one color photograph of your infant (full, front-face view) taken along with footprints and compile a complete written description of your infant including hair and eye color, length, weight, date of birth, and specific physical characteristics.”

 12. Call Them: Professionals are ready to help you. “Since 1982, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has spearheaded the national effort to prevent child abductions and return missing and exploited children to their families. In partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), NCMEC continues to enhance and expand its ability to offer critical intervention and prevention services to families and support law enforcement agencies at the Federal, State, local levels.”  The Kentucky Missing and Exploited Children Unit was organized in 1984 to create a centralized clearinghouse to assist law enforcement agencies to locate and return missing children to their homes. Many stores, like Walmart, have a Code Adam plan of action—if a child is missing in the store, employees immediately mobilize to look for the missing child. The reality of today’s world requires parents to be super vigilant and take precautions and preventative measures to prevent kidnapping, exploitation, Internet crimes, pornography and violence. Take the lead, Fathers, in protecting your children by being there, being watchful, and being trustworthy guardians.

Read other articles and learn more about Dr. Molly Barrow.

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