Hurricane PD shares safety tips with parents
HURRICANE — How can I keep my children safe when out in public? How can I protect them when they are on their own? If you are a parent, it is likely that these and other questions are on your mind quite frequently. To help answer some of them, the MOMS Club of Teays Valley invited a Hurricane police representative to speak at their monthly meeting on Sept. 19.
The good news, according to Hurricane Police Cpl. T.W. Barker, is that the hot topic of the day — human trafficking — is not as prevalent in West Virginia as it is in certain areas of Kentucky and bigger cities like Columbus.
Still, with almost daily Facebook posts about perceived “attempted” abductions, parents can’t help but feel concerned. There are ways to stay vigilant and protect your children, said Barker, who also shared some statistics about human trafficking.
He said national statistics show that, of the kids and teens who are truly abducted, most are taken by a family member or an acquaintance, and just 25 percent of kidnapping victims are taken by strangers. Almost all kids kidnapped by strangers are taken by men, and about two-thirds of these stranger abductions involve female children. Barker encourages parents to have their children fingerprinted,
keep latest health and dental records on hand, and have an up-to-date photograph of each child. All of these significantly aid the police in case a child goes missing.
When teaching your child safety, it is best not to focus on a specific scenario, but rather on behavior, an appropriate response to a variety of situations involving strangers.
As a general rule, make sure your child understands that a grown-up they don’t know should never ask them to help or to do things for them. If someone acts like they know the child, or the parents, but does not look familiar, the child must keep away. That being said, parents should avoid putting a child’s name on clothing items, bags, and other possessions visible to strangers, as a child is less likely to fear someone that calls them by their name.
Running away, screaming, making a scene, or anything else that draws attention are the best strategies to deter the criminal.
Barker also said teaching children self-defense skills can be beneficial. There are classes in the area, offered by police departments and other certified instructors that are geared toward any age.
If your child owns a phone, make sure the “Find my phone” feature is installed and turned on. Always know your child’s whereabouts.
When in a public place, never leave your child in a car or a stroller, not even for a minute. If your child gets separated from you at the store, let them know which people are safe to ask for help, like a mall security officer or a cashier. Let them know they should not walk away trying to find you, but to stay put to make it easier to be found. Make sure they know their name, parents name and, if possible, your phone number.
As the number of teenagers who use social media rapidly increases, it is important to talk about online safety. The internet is a great tool, but also a place for predators to find their victims. Parents need to be aware of their child’s internet activity and friends.
Help your child be prepared and teach them to trust their instincts. A good piece of general advice is that if something feels wrong, it is smart to steer clear of the situation.
For more information about the self-defense classes in the area, contact Hurricane Police Department at 304-562-9911. Also, visit Marshall University RAD page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/herdrad.
The MOMS Club of Teays Valley is a local non-profit organization that offers support to stay-at-home mothers. To find out more about their activities and how to join email at email@example.com.