Back-to-School: 'Stranger danger' safety tips

2:03 PM, Sep 2, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Stranger danger isn't just a clever play on words, it's a very real conversation you and your children need to have as they head back to school.

Richard So, M.D., a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic, says there are a list of things that you and your children need to do your homework on to make sure each day is a safe one.

For the little kids, make sure they know their own name, mom and dad's name, their phone numbers and address. If they have their name on their backpack it's a good idea to find some patches or pins and creatively cover it up.

"Kids at that age think that if people know their name, then they are their friend," said Dr. So. Another good piece of advice is to have a family password.

Dr. So says that most cases of abduction where the child is reunited with the parents the child actually knows the perpetrator, so be careful with whom you are sharing the password.  

Make sure you practice your password by asking your child what it is.

That is what So does with his young daughter. "'Hey, Mommy and daddy were in an accident and they are in the hospital, why don't you come with me and we will give you a ride there because we are sure they really want to see you?' My little girl will say what is the password?"

Children who are old enough to have a little independence are often at risk, "for the older kids you want to teach them, never go alone," said Dr. So.

He recommends telling your child the following: always tell an adult where you are, always take a buddy and don't get in the car with strangers.

"You have to teach confidence in your child, rather than creating anxiety when you are teaching them about stranger danger," said Dr. So, "it's just like football practice, you just have to practice it over and over and over."

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