According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, your child is at greatest risk of an abduction when going to and from school.
Here are some important guidelines to keeping your child safe:
1. Check your sex offender registry!! Whether your child is riding the bus or walking to school, parents need to know who lives in proximity to their children’s routes to and from school. We recommend the Family Watch Dog website at www.familywatchdog.us. Not only is this information free and fast, you can also sign up for regular email notifications when a convicted predator has moved near your home or school.
2. Check www.familywatchdog.us also for your child’s babysitter or friends’ homes, and church.
3. Make sure your child is aware of any sex offenders in your neighborhood, particularly near your home, school, babysitters, friend’s house, church or bus stop. Instruct your child to avoid everyone in these homes and to stay as far away from these homes as possible.
4. It just isn’t safe for a child to walk to or from school, unless accompanied by a responsible, trusted adult.
5. If your child rides the bus to school, make sure your child has their bus number memorized.
6. Children require intense, consistent supervision at their bus stop – in the mornings when they leave and in the afternoons when they come home. Local parents can take turns with this, or a neighborhood watch can be formed to provide this layer of protection.
7. Make sure your child understands that adults don’t need help from children. Grown-ups are not supposed to ask children for directions, to find a house, locate a missing pet or anything else.
8. Teach your child to never accept a ride from anyone without your permission.
9. We recommend that children under 12 not be left at home alone. However, if this cannot be avoided, teach your child to never tell a stranger when they are home alone.
10. We recommend that children aged 10 and over be allowed to have a cell phone to be used in emergencies. Make sure that they can direct-dial 911, their school, home, their parents’ work or trusted adults nearby.