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Gone are the days when parents worried about their girl child being safe. Today irrespective of the gender, a child is never truly safe. The perils are numerous, ranging from bullying at school, rape, kidnap, sexual harassment, cyber bullying and suicide to death in school premises.
While working parents are away most part of the day, even stay at home parents find it a challenge to track and control their child's activities 24/7.
Although it's beyond our control to make the world a trouble free place for children, here are 10 simple steps a responsible parent can take to keep them safe.
1. Teach about good touch and bad touch.
It's never too early to teach a child about sex education and sexual abuse. Good touch and bad touch are the simplest concepts that will do the trick. Let your child know that nobody can take off his/her clothes or touch inappropriately. Look out for any signs of physical injury or mood swings in your child.
Make it a rule to your child to not accept gifts, sweets, chocolates or anything from strangers and to not befriend them.
2. Teach your child never to trust strangers and sometimes family and friends too
Being in the company of family and friends does not guarantee a child's safety. In fact, the number of crimes that happen from strangers are almost on par with those that happen from close contacts. Children these days are smart and capable of sensing when something does not feel comfortable. Teach your child to run to safety, to a trusted adult, at the first sign of trouble.
3. Be vigilant while your child is browsing the internet
Whether it's a game or a cartoon or a you tube video, always be on guard and know the activities of your child on the internet. Criminals are always on the hunt for vulnerable children and the web is a huge market for that. Install relevant parental control apps or softwares wherever necessary.
4. Let your child memorise your phone number.
Ensure that your child has atleast one parent's number memorised and that the parent is always available on that number. While on an outing, leave the number in the child's pocket along with your address. In a scenario the child gets separated from you in a crowd, the number can be used to reach you with somebody's help.
5. Monitor your child's company
The friends your child makes and hangs around with can have a huge impact on him/her. Make efforts to know the friends and their families so you can be rest assured that your child is safe in their company. Be aware of the games your child plays with friends or by himself.
6. Communicate with your child's school
As children spend most part of the day at school, having a good connect with your child's teacher can give you an insight into how your child is faring at school. If the child is being bullied, it would be apparent that the child would not do well with lessons or participate in school activities. Also, know the safety measures taken in the school premises and for the school transport.
7. Agree on a password with your child
Have a fun easy to remember password with your child, which is known only to the two of you. In a case where a third party tries to pick your child from school/party/outing, teach your child to ask the person for the correct password, which will give away the trap.
8. Be informed and alert about where your is child is at all times and check on their use of money
Always know where your child is. Whether at a friend's place studying or at a game, make note of the person your child is with and a number where they can be reached. Maintain a decent time frame for your child to be back home.
Check on your child's expenses and never keep excess money at your child's disposal.
9. Be your child's best friend, be open and be available. Listen to your child and give them your time.
The most important and effective way to ensure your child's safety is to be his/her best friend. Keep the communication open and going at all times. Be understanding and be available whenever your child needs you. At the end of each day, talk to your child about how the day went and help deal with the load of studies.
10. Be that trusted adult your child can run to in times of pain, trouble, injury, distress, depression and confusion. Lesser the time we give our children, more the opportunities for them to be taken advantage of by others. So spend quality time with your children while teaching them to be independent, cautious and responsible.
And there you have truly happy children and as safe as they can be!