BASIC TOOLS IN HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN
(This blog represents the views and opinions from a mother, experts in the field, survivors, law enforcement officials and people who have dedicated their lives to rescue, protect and serve vulnerable children.)
TOOL #1: Know where your kids are at all times.
WHERE IS YOUR CHILD RIGHT NOW?
As a parent, grandparent or guardian, you may worry about giving your child the amount of freedom necessary to grow up and become an adult. I know I do. This is okay, because in today’s world, to fear about our child’s safety is our number one priority, especially when it is nearly impossible to keep up with theirs latest social media trends.
One thing is certain. Nearly all children have a cell phone these days. According to a recent report released in March, 2013 by Harvard University, 78% of our youngsters now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of those own smartphones, and cannot function without their cellphones in hand.
Predators and traffickers prey upon these children who have the freedom to move around freely without suspicion. Children who are most vulnerable are those who do not have a parent or guardian looking for them.
In today’s society, a lot is required from us parents in order to meet the needs of our kids (we need to work to provide food, clothing, etc., besides the cooking, cleaning and laundry. This list can keep going for miles.) There is nothing wrong with this picture. The problem arises when we get so hung up on all the “doing” to fulfill our role, that we fail in prioritizing simply being there for them. Many times we don’t even know where they are. That’s when they could be in great danger: when we are just too busy to notice.
As a mother of three I know how hard it is to balance both worlds, the one of doing what we think is necessary for our kids and the one where we are just there for them. It can be very hard (even harder if you are a single parent), but it’s not impossible!
So put down that day planner, shove aside your opinions of what a perfect mother looks like, and take a deep breath. What your child really needs is you. Period.
By that I mean the real and not perfect you. The one who tries hard and messes up, the one who is sometimes on the game and sometimes not. By being there for your child, it’s far more likely for them not to fall as victims into predators’ hands.
Always remember: “If you think you, as a parent, are too busy doing things for your child, those predators are even busier looking for them. And there is a huge possibility that these predators will find your child before you do.”
I truly believe that no child wants to get into trouble. If they are misinformed and have not had the proper care, they will make mistakes and get into trouble even if they do not want to.
The good news is that most dangers can be avoided if parents learn more about the people their children hang out with (name, address, phone number, etc.) and the places they go frequently. Another way to avoid danger is by having children and their parents learn more about the smart use of phones and the internet.
Cell phone tracking can not only help you locate your child’s lost cell phone, but it can also keep you notified of your child’s whereabouts at all times; especially in the event of an emergency. Most cell phone carriers have programs to assist parents with this task.
Kids today are essentially “growing up on the phone and internet.” They should be taught that, even though they are familiar with it, phone and internet can also be a dangerous place.
Major wireless service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint offer “Family Locator” packages that allow you to locate and track all the cell phones in your family plan. In addition, if your child’s phone has GPS capabilities (like an iPhone, Droid or Blackberry) you can download a tracking app directly from the phone. There are also many free apps that can help you with the task of knowing where your child is.
“Parents or guardians have a right to know where their minor children are at all times, despite what your child may argue.”
Let’s stand together to protect our kids by knowing WHERE THEY ARE AT ALL TIMES!
For more information on learning how to know where your child is, you can visit the following sites, which include but are not limited to:
http://www.teensafe.com/ (There is a 7 day free trial to test the service. $14.95 per month thereafter. TeenSafe is a no-obligation subscription. You can cancel at any time.)
Cell Phone Apps: Life360, Verizon Family Locator, Phone Tracker for iPhone, GPS Tracker, Sprint Family Locator, Family Radar, iSharing, PlaceUs, MamaBear Family Safety, Alert Us, AT&T Family Map, Find My Kids Footprints, Family Tracker and many more. Or simply call your phone carrier for more info.
TOOL #2: Know what your kids are doing online and teach them about internet safety.
If you suspect Human Trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888.