October is International Walk to School Month. In honor of this month, there are a few safety plans and tips for both kids and parents to keep in mind; especially latchkey kids. A few important plans to have in place for latchkey kids include: what to do in case of an emergency and what to do if they are approached by a stranger.
What is a Latchkey Kid?
Kids who leave an empty home in the morning or come home to one after school are referred to as latchkey kids. Latchkey kids are usually left home alone for a few hours each day because of a parent or guardians work schedule. Latchkey kids may also be left alone as their parents cannot afford daycare or a before or after school program. If your kid(s) are going to walk to and from school on their own, they should know by heart the following information:
- What their address is.
- What their home phone number is.
- What your cell phone or work number is.
In case of an emergency, they will need to be able to recite phone number s and their home address to a police officer, 911 operators or other person of authority. You may also place a cheat sheet of contact numbers in your child’s backpack for them to refer to when they needed.
If your child is one of many latchkey kids, it is also important to go over some plans-of-action of what they should do if they are approach by or are being followed by a stranger.
- Teach your child to not talk to strangers or accept rides from a stranger.
- If a stranger approaches your child in a vehicle, teach your child to not approach the vehicle. Also teach them to immediately try and remember the license plate number, color and type of care the stranger was driving and a basic physical description of the stranger. This information is important to know when you call local police to tell them what happened.
- If possible, provide your latchkey kids with a cell phone and make sure they have it on them and that it is charged. Also, show them how to call for police in case of an emergency by dialing 9-1-1.
- If your child is being followed on foot, teach them to go to the nearest business or residence for help.
- If your child is being harassed by someone in a car or being followed home, teach them to turn and walk in the opposite direction. The driver will have to backup to follow them or turn around giving your child more time to get away.
- Provide your child with a safety whistle and tell them to blow the whistle to get the attention of others and scream “Stranger Danger” to draw attention to them and scare the bad guy away.
As a parent or guardian you cannot always be around to protect your kids from harm. But, you can teach your latchkey kids basic safety tips and practices to help keep them safer. Just remember to create some safety plans-of-action, practice those plans with them a few times a month and contact the police as soon as possible if your latchkey kids came in contact with a suspicious stranger.
If you, a family member or friend have a child / latchkey kid who was kidnapped or taken by another non-custodial parent or guardian without permission, the kidnap lawyers at Lerner and Rowe Law Group are available to help you 24 / 7. Call (602) 667-7777 to schedule a free initial case consultation. We are ready to help when you need it most!