Recent incidents in the community in which strangers have approached kids and teens have parents concerned.
When an 11-year-old girl got off the school bus at Showplace Drive and an unknown man asked if she needed a ride, the student’s reaction may have been life saving.
By running away and notifying an adult who then contacted the police. The student made the smart decision.
The Naperville Police Department is offering some tips about how parents should talk to their kids about these situations. Tip number one is “say no, go, and tell.”
“So talk to your children and tell them that if somebody that you don’t know comes up to you and offers you something then your job is to say no, to get away from the situation. Tell them to run away if they have to, and to tell a trusted adult,” explained Mary Browning, crime prevention and community education specialist at the Naperville Police Department.
Browning advises parents to talk to their children about which adults they can trust, from your next-door neighbor to a worker in uniform and to identify safe public places to go in an emergency.
Tip number two is to check with your parents.
“You always need to check first before going somewhere with mom and dad, before going anywhere with anyone,” said Browning. “Or check first with mom and dad before accepting anything from anyone. So if they remember that they know ‘I can’t leave with this person or I can’t help this person look for their dog or I can’t get in this person’s car before I check first with mom and dad.’”
With safety in numbers, kids should always remember to use the buddy system – stick with a friend or someone they know when at the playground, walking home from school, and going anywhere.
Tip number three is to trust your instincts.
“If we’re talking about a junior high student or a high school student and a situation doesn’t seem right or a person doesn’t seem right, they need to trust that inner voice that tells them ‘something is not right here,’” said Browning.
Browning says to start talking to your kids about these situations at an early age so they’ll remember the tips and how to stay safe for years down the line.
“Empower children! Empower them that it’s ok to say no to adults. Sometimes, especially younger children feel as though because an adult is an authority figure that they always have to do what the adult says. But it’s really important that parents instill in their children that it’s ok to say no,” added Browning.
One last tip: Browning says parents and their children can role play these types of scenarios and discuss how to react.
A lesson for parents and kids to instill safe practices everyday.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.