The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Don't post your kids' names on a billboard!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don't post your kids' names on a billboard!

While most people won't advertise their children's names with their pictures on a roadside billboard, you might be surprised at some of the places where you shouldn't yell your child's name for their safety.  The information below comes from my friends at www.nannybackgroundcheck.com.  But first, my own comment on writing your child's name on the outside of their clothing, backpack, etc.  Children usually know not to go anywhere with strangers, however, if a stranger calls your child by his or her first name, that stranger immediately becomes a friend.  So, if you're tempted to get the cute backpack with Amy on the front, resist the urge, get the plain vanilla backpack (after all, it's less expensive), and write her name on the inside. 

Statistics show that every 40 seconds a child goes missing. Think about that. In the time that it takes you to read this article several children will have gone missing. Fortunately many of these children are found within hours. However, 260,000 children fall victim to abductions each year. Only 1.4 % of all abductions are stranger abductions and 76% of those occur within a quarter mile from home. Those that do happen tend to occur outside the home are perpetrated by people that know the child’s name; that’s how they get them. Check out ten places we shouldn’t mention our kids’ names.
  1. Youth athletic events: Kids are involved in many different kinds of sporting activities now and as a family you probably spend many a weekend at tournaments and games. It’s only natural to yell out your child’s name during a game, but predators can be around and they will take note of your child’s name and jersey number. They will note what team they play for and may show up at practice. You don’t want to give them any information to use.
  2. Professional sporting events: Sporting events for professional or semi-professional teams are held at very large arenas or stadiums. There are tens of thousands of people there. If a predator hears you call your child by name or shout out to them if they are walking too far in front of you or behind you. Then they have personal information that they can use when they follow your child into the restroom. Things can happen.
  3. The mall: The mall is a kid magnet. They meet their friends there and hang out, but they tend to get into trouble there too. That’s why predators hang out at malls. Hoping to get a kid alone. If you call out to your child in the mall everyone now knows what your child’s name is and can use that information to get cozy with your child.
  4. Facebook: While different than a physical place, a lot of people are on Facebook and can put together your information and your child’s information. If you have pictures of where you hang out or events that your child has been in then it’s possible for a predator to put all of that information together and figure out where your child goes to school and how old they are and what their name is. It’s just as important for you to be safe with your child’s information online as it is for them to be.
  5. Amusement parks: Where do a lot of kids go? Amusement parks. If you call out for your child or yell your child’s name there may be undesirable people listening. Predators hang out where there are children. They will watch and listen for any advantage. Maybe you let your child ride a ride by themselves because you didn’t want to go. Now that predator can meet them at the end and call them by name. Give them some story about being a friend of their parents.
  6. Grocery store: Kids tend to misbehave in grocery stores for some reason. Maybe it’s because they want something that they aren’t going to get or maybe they are just bored. Whatever the reason is this is a really common place to hear a parent yelling at their child. Most times the child’s full name including middle name is often sternly expressed at the child. Now any stranger listening knows your child’s full name and where you grocery shop. Maybe they will go back there every day and watch to see when you shop there. They might be able to lure the kid away from you and then snatch them.
  7. Restaurants: Diners are another really common place for families to go. Kids get bored and mom and dad may call out their name. Now anyone within hearing distance knows your child’s name.
  8. Big Discount store: There’s something about big discount stores and the toy aisle that attracts kids. Adults may loiter in the toy aisle hoping to strike up a conversation with a child. Maybe they will ask them what toy they would suggest for the stranger’s niece. If the stranger knows their name because mom or dad has mentioned it earlier then they can get that much closer to them.
  9. Park: A large percentage of stranger abductions take place in parks or nearby wooded areas. Many parents will call their children by name to warn them about being careful or to stop throwing sand or whatever it is. Predators will hang out at parks in order to learn this information.
  10. Sports practice: Many parents will go to their child’s practice and call out to them to pay attention or try harder. If you use their name anyone standing around listening will now know a little information about your child. What team they play for, maybe what school they go to and now they know their name. Maybe a nickname would be better.
No matter what activities your child is involved in or where you go as a family, keep an eye out for predators and don’t let your children go anywhere without adequate supervision. You can even set up a code word so that kids can know if someone is really giving them a message from you. Finally, please do not put up window decals on your vehicle with the names of everyone in the family (even consider whether or not you should put up an elementary school, junior high school, or other school mascot or logo). All these things can help keep your children safe.

Finally, one more comment from me... When your children go on class tips, the natural tendency is to place a name tag on them so they can find their way back to the group if they get lost.  I think that's the WORST thing you can do.  Not only is the child in jeopardy because he became separated from the group, but now he has a neon sign hanging around his neck attracting the nearest predator to call him by name to "bring him back" to his leader.  What to do instead?  Simply give all the kids the same label that is only a color or a symbol.  Then, when he gets lost, have someone look for the little boy with the blue shirt and blond hair wearing a white pawprint sign.  So much safer. And remind your child to not discuss the meaning of the pawprint sign with anyone!

Happy Parenting!

1 comment:

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