Smiling boy

Go back to basics to help your kids protect themselves. 

Boiling child safety down to 10 steadfast rules might seem impossible—and for parents, it is. But kids need to hear clear safety basics from Mom and Dad. These simple, easy-to-remember rules give you a way to start the conversation.

  1. Don’t talk to strangers. Kids can’t control who approaches them, but they should know not to engage in conversation (or activities) with someone they don’t know.
  2. Yell and tell. If a stranger does approach your child and attempt to touch or follow him or her, your child should yell (“That’s not my dad!” “Stranger!” “Help!”) and tell someone they trust what happened. Some experts advise children in distress to look for a mom, rather than for a uniformed security officer, at a playground or store.
  3. Be street safe. This rule can evolve as your child grows from tricycle to bicycle and, eventually, to car. Make sure he or she knows the safest places to walk and ride, and the boundaries for his or her travels.
  4. Know your address, phone number and at least one parent’s cell phone number.
  5. Don’t give out any personal information online. This includes addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and the child’s school name and location.
  6. Don’t play with matches, knives or guns. For children, matches and lighters can seem like harmless, fascinating toys. And serious mistakes happen when hunting weapons are treated like toys. Teach children to respect these items—and as much as possible, remove temptation by securing them in the house and separating ammunition from firearms.
  7. Don’t eat anything given to you by a stranger (or that you can’t identify). This helps kids avoid ingesting dangerous substances and poisons. It teaches them to ask parents before eating and establishes a conscious practice of identifying and naming safe foods.
  8. You are the boss of your body. Applicable for children of any age, this rule reinforces that they have control over themselves and should always be able to say no.
  9. Don’t keep secrets from your parents. Kids might try to keep situations and behaviors they identify as wrong or embarrassing from their parents. Let them know the lines of communication are always open.
  10. Make a safety agreement. Children are active participants in their own safety. Maintain open communication and work together to make plans for safety, including whom they can accept rides from, what their curfews are and whom they can trust.