A checklist for parents to prepare kids before they go anywhere without adult protection
Safety is not a one-time lesson but an ongoing conversation and process. To be on safe on their own in public or at home, young people need to have knowledge so they can recognize potentially unsafe situations, skills for taking action to avoid or get away from those safety problems, and enough life experience and development so that they can use their knowledge and skills consistently.
Kids – and adults – need to be prepared to:
- Think and check first before opening the door to someone they aren’t expecting, even someone they know.
- Move out of reach of someone they don’t know well if they are in a place where there aren’t many people around or if anyone’s behavior is making them uncomfortable.
- Check and think first before taking a ride from anyone or going anywhere unless that was the plan, even with people they know.
- Get help everywhere they go, even by interrupting busy, impatient adults
- Yell, run, make a scene, and fight if necessary to escape from an attack.
We created the following checklist and the handout above for parents (and schools) about how to prepare their kids to be ready to make safe choices and get help while on their way to and from school, or anywhere else in public before they are allowed to go on their own.
TALK together to make a Safety Plan so your kids will know:
- They are safest staying in groups and, if they are younger, with an adult you select.
- To always get permission from you or another adult in charge before they change their plan about going anywhere with anyone, whether it is a stranger or someone they know.
- To always get your permission about where they go, who will be with them, and what they will be doing.
- That a stranger is someone they do not know well, can look like anybody, and might know their name.
- That most people are good and most strangers are good, but they do not know what someone is like just by how that person looks or acts.
- To NOT get close to a stranger, talk to a stranger, take anything from a stranger, or go with a stranger – unless they have their adult’s permission.
- If they are old enough to talk to a stranger, to stay out of reach and not give personal information.
- To move away toward safety and get help if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or tries to approach them.
- How to get help in an emergency from people you’ve designated along their route.
- To tell a trusted adult every time someone makes them feel uncomfortable or scared.
WALK together to determine:
- The safest route to follow on the way to and from school on foot, by bus, or by bike that will avoid isolated places, difficult streets to cross, and other hazards.
- Where to go and who to ask for help if kids have a safety problem on route — preferably adults you have introduced them to — in a church, store, neighbor’s house, bus, etc.
- What to do if kids get lost, if they cannot stay on their route, or if someone bothers them.
- Each child’s safety readiness for going on her or his own without adult supervision.
PRACTICE together until you are SURE your kids are prepared to:
- Use their awareness to notice and avoid safety problems from people, traffic, or other possible trouble.
- Act aware, calm, and confident in every situation.
- Move quickly out of reach from a stranger or anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Follow their safety plan even if a friend tries to persuade them to do otherwise.
- Find a place with people to help them if they get lost or have to change their route.
- Yell “NO! I NEED HELP!” and run to a safe place to get help if they feel scared.
- Yell, pull away, hit and kick to escape from an attack.
- Be persistent in getting help, even if adults are busy or impatient.
- Find and use a telephone so they can call a trusted adult for help or 911 in an emergency.
Sign up for free community membership in our online library for access to the following resources:
Preparing Children for More Independence – A Five-Step Plan From Kidpower
How to Pick a Good Self-Defense Program
Helicopters or Protectors: How to Keep Kids Safe Without Unhelpful Hovering
Resisting the Illusion of Safety
How “Stranger Danger” Hurts Kids: Teach Stranger Safety Instead
What If I Get Lost? – Kidpower Skills for Teaching Children How to Get Help
Kidpower Safety Comics for children, youth, and teens provide an entertaining and useful way to introduce and practice safety skills.