Play It Safe
high-profile abductions have generated waves of fear in the
United States. The intense media coverage of these incidents
is vital for recovery, but it makes it seem as though children
are being stolen from their front yards and bedrooms on a
daily basis. According to the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the number of abductions in
the United States is not rising, but itīs good to take precautions.
Regional AYSO leaders should share these suggestions from
the NCMEC with coaches, referees, volunteers and parents.
can coaches do to help?
aware of your surroundings during practices
and games, including parked cars and adults
lingering near fields.
Do not leave children alone after practices
Encourage parents to stay for practices.
Speak with parents about proper drop off and
pick up procedures. Be familiar with family
members who pick up your team members.
Know where your children are at all times. Know your childrenīs
friends and be specific about the places and homes they may
visit. Require your children to check in with you as they
come and go and when there is a change in plans. Follow the
rule yourself so they know it is for safety purposes and not
just to "check up" on them.
Never leave children unattended in an automobile, running
or not. Remind children to never hitchhike, approach a car
or engage in a conversation with anyone in a car that they
do not know and trust, or go anywhere with anyone without
Be involved in your childrenīs activities. Meet their
teachers, coaches, friends and friendsī parents.
Pay attention if your children say they donīt want to
be with someone or go somewhere. This may indicate more than
just a personality conflict or lack of interest.
Notice when someone shows one or all of your children
a great deal of attention. Ask about the person and find out
why the person is acting in this way.
Teach your children that they have the right to say NO
to any unwelcome, uncomfortable, or confusing touch or actions
by others. Teach them to tell you immediately if this happens.
Be sensitive to any changes in your childrenīs behavior
or attitude. Look and listen to small cues and clues that
something may be troubling your children. If your children
do confide in you, be calm and nonjudgmental.
Screen babysitters and caregivers. Check a public registry
for prior criminal records and sex offenses. Call references.
Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to
see how your children are doing. Ask your children how the
experience with the caregiver was and listen carefully to
Practice basic safety skills with your children. Take
an outing to a mall or park so your children can practice
checking with you, using pay telephones, going to the restroom
with a friend, and locating the adults who can help them.
10. Remember that there is no substitute for your attention
courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Talking to children about safety
scare tactics when discussing personal safety. Reassure
your child that most people are kind and safe. Those who
are not are the exception.
your child basic sex education, i.e., the areas of the body
covered by a bathing suit are private.
within your child a sense of self-worth at every opportunity.
strong communication skills with your children. Explain
the importance of reporting abuse to you or another trusted
that sexual abuse is a crime. This gives children the confidence
to assert themselves with those who try to abuse them.
children to express affection on their own terms. Do not
instruct them to "Give Uncle Jimmy a kiss" or
"Give Aunt Susan a hug."
that there should be no secrets from you, especially those
involving an adult.
the importance of reporting rumors or threats of violence,
including bomb threats and weapon possession by schoolmates.
Reinforce that reporting can be done anonymously, but that
school officials must be told for the safety of everyone.
all, encourage children to recognize, trust and follow their
instincts -- and listen to your own instincts. If a situation
or person makes you or your child uneasy, believe in your
feelings and act on them.
Child Lures Prevention. For more information, visit childlures.com
to purchase the Child Lures Parent Guide.