You can’t control what happens at camp once your child is already there, but you can prepare ahead of time to put your mind at ease and ensure a positive and safe experience for your child. Stranger Danger is real. By going over these steps with your children, you can prepare them in case a situation takes place while at summer camp.
- Teach your children not to talk with strangers.
- Don’t approach a motor vehicle for someone asking directions. Explain to your child that adults don’t need directions from KIDS!
- Set up a code word with your children in the event of an emergency. A friend may have to pick up your child/children from camp, and you need a plan. Your child should know the code word and understand the importance. Your child should be prepared to respond to anyone who knows the code word. Make the word meaningful to your family, so a real stranger would not be able to figure it out.
- Teach your child how to use the telephone and how to call for the police, 911 if available.
- Make sure your child knows his or her name, address, and phone number.
- Always encourage use of the buddy system – avoid walking anywhere alone.
- Your kids should trust their instincts – if you feel you are being followed or something is not right, seek help immediately.
- If a stranger approaches you, you do not have to speak to him or her. Never approach a stranger in a motor vehicle. Just keep walking. Do not accept candy or any other items from a stranger. Never walk off with a stranger no matter what he or she tells you.
- If someone is following you try to remember the license plate of his or her vehicle and immediately tell a trusted adult.
- If a stranger grabs you, do everything you can to stop him or her from pulling you away or dragging you into his or her car. Drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite, and scream. Do whatever it takes to attract the attention of others who can help you. If someone is dragging you away, scream, “this is not my dad,” or “this is not my mom.”
- Once you have chosen summer camp for your child, you will need to make sure that it is ACA Certified. Though a certification from the American Camp Association isn’t stand-alone proof that a camp will be safe for your child, it can still be an important factor to consider. You can navigate to the American Camp Association Website for more information.
- You don’t just trustingly sign your child up for summer camp without asking a few questions. Talk to the powers that be about kid safety precautions, number of staff on hand, and screening processes for employees before you sign on the dotted line. If they’re hesitant to divulge this information or don’t have a specific process, choose another camp.
- Kids need to know that unfortunately strangers sometimes claim to be the police and may have with the identification that could fool even an adult. If a police officer needs to speak with your child, in the majority of these contacts the police officer will be in a fully marked squad car with the name of your local community displayed and the officer will be in uniform. The police are aware of these types of encounters and will understand the child may not want to speak with the officer for obvious reasons, especially if the officer is in an unmarked squad and is in civilian dress.
- You are the eyes and ears of your community. The police can’t be at all places at all times. Get involved and report suspicious activity and not just to your neighbor, unless she/he happens to be a police officer.
All of these helpful Stranger Danger tips were gathered from the following sites: