As parents, one of our major worries is keeping our children safe. Child safety issues concern the community as a whole and we need to hit the spot between protection and paranoia. As our children grow and reach puberty, it’s even more difficult as they want to assert their independence and explore the new world that is opening up to them. Here is some useful advice about keeping your teen safe.
CPR and Emergency Numbers
Basic First Aid training through an organization like the Red Cross will give your kids an advantage in any emergency situation, as they will know what to do. A good course will cover CPR, serious bleeding, near drowning and choking, as well as basic first aid for non-life threatening situations, accidents and injuries. In taking the course, your teen will also learn think about what could happen empowering them further by encouraging anticipation of possible dangers in different situations. It’s a skill that will serve them a lifetime and give them the confidence to act.
Essential, too, is that teenagers have the emergency services numbers for their area programmed into their phones. Getting help early is the biggest factor in ensuring the best outcome in emergency situations. Using the HN app provides an easy, one click solution to any kind of emergency situation. With your whole family connected through the HN app, you will all be notified in case of emergency. You also have the ability to set up templates for different emergencies and who should be contacted.
On the Road
By now your teen should already know the basics of road safety, but these should be reiterated often. Wearing a helmet when cycling, crossing the road at road crossings, not texting while walking, not wearing headphones in both ears are some basics for the biker and the pedestrian. Wearing seatbelts in the car should be non-negotiable and you should lead by example. The dangers of drunk driving should be discussed and a zero tolerance policy put in place. Make sure you buckle up too. Teens who have seen their parents drink and drive are much more likely to do so themselves. Let them know that you will always come and pick them up no matter the place or time and encourage them to speak up when they don’t feel safe.
Pre-teens and teenagers can be made aware of possible dangers to their person; how to avoid situations in which they could be compromised or are vulnerable; and crimes that could be committed against them. They should know about issues like abduction, date rape and muggings as well as the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Making your home a safe and friendly place for teens to gather in is a great idea. You can get to know their friends, build a network with other parents and know that they are safe.
When they are out and about encourage them to keep in a group, make sure you know where they are and who they are with. If their plans change they need to inform you. Talk to them about compromising situations and possible exit strategies. Some parents and teenagers even have a code word that can be spoken or texted to let the parents know that they need help.
Part of the ‘being streetwise’ conversation should involve advice about avoiding isolated areas at night, not taking unnecessary shortcuts that could be potentially dangerous; staying alert to your surroundings; and not going somewhere with people that you don’t know well as they may put you in a situation where you are not comfortable.
Local self-defense courses are also a great idea for teenage girls and boys, as these courses offer information about how to keep safe, as well as tactics to incapacitate an attacker.
Be aware of what your teen is doing online. Get to know which social media sites they are active on and how much time they spend on the Internet. Basic rules like not making friends online with people you don’t actually know, not publishing personal details such as where you live and not posting photographs that could make them vulnerable to predators are all conversations that should be had as they are growing. In addition to this, talk about viruses, online privacy, identity theft, phishing, social networking etiquette, and any other internet safety and/or security issue you can think of.
Inevitably in this age, technology can play a major role in keeping kids safe. Smart phones are ubiquitous and even young children have them. They can offer great peace of mind to parents who spend time away from their kids, or those with teenagers out for the evening. Mobile telephony, GPS tracking and social media all have a role to play and applications such as Heroes Nearby offer all of these, rolled into one intuitive app that gives you peace of mind, harnesses the power of community and provides a great tool to use in adding to your children’s safety.
In a healthy society child safety is paramount and so it should be. Teaching children about this from an early age and keeping them informed goes a long way in keeping them safe now and when they are adults.
By Merryn Wainwright