By Kathy Jefcoats
? Make sure children know their full name, address complete with city and state, and telephone number beginning with the area code.
? Teach them to dial 911 and to use a pay phone.
? Teach children to NEVER accept rides or gifts from someone they don't know.
? Teach children to go to a store clerk, security guard or police officer for help if they are lost in a mall, store or on the street.
? Accompany children to public restrooms.
? Teach children that no one, not even someone they know, has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Tell them they have the right to say "no" in this situation.
? Show children safe places in their neighborhood where they can go in an emergency, like a trusted neighbor's house.
? Inspect your neighborhood for areas that threaten children's safety, like brush in wooded areas, overgrown shrubbery, poor lighting, etc.
? Encourage children to walk and play with friends, not alone. Tell them to avoid places that could be dangerous such as vacant buildings, alleys, new construction, wooded areas.
? Make sure children take the safest route to and from school, stores and friends' houses.
? Teach children to walk confidently and to be alert to what's going on around them.
? Tell children to avoid strangers who may hang around playgrounds, empty buildings and public restrooms.
? Children should always take the same way home from school.
? Children should not walk next to curbs.
? Children should not play alone on playgrounds.
? Parents should take the time to listen carefully to a child's fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts. Take complaints about bullies seriously.
? Tell children to phone home from the home of friends they are visiting.
? If a stranger grabs them, children should scream and make as much noise as possible to draw attention to the situation.
? Parents should form a network to watch out for danger signs in their neighborhood and to keep each other informed.
? Watch out for strangers and non-students at the school bus stop.
? Use the Internet to learn if a sexual predator is living in the area.
? Know the child's friends and their parents.
Contact your local law enforcement agencies for more tips on keeping your kids safe. Clayton County Police Department: (770) 477-3550;Clayton County Sheriff's Office: (678) 479-5350;
Morrow Police Department: (770) 961-2622;Riverdale Police Department: (770) 996-3382; Forest Park Police Department: (404) 366-7280;Lake City Police Department: (404) 366-8035; Jonesboro Police Department: (770) 478-7407.