Her safety is a very important concern to you.

Community Safety for Kids

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

You likely won't hesitate to respond with a fast, No!" when your child says, “Mommy, I’m a big girl and I can walk to Aunt Jenny’s by myself.” That's because you know there are dangers in your community that she doesn’t understand. It takes parents, a community of workers and other families in the community working together to keep the children protected from themselves and from internal and external hazards. Until your little one is old enough to take care of herself, she needs all of you.

1. Parental Responsibilities

You are responsible for many safety elements to protect your child, such as maintaining a safe home, Internet safety, teaching your child about stranger danger, to dial 911 in case of an emergency, and making sure that he knows his contact information and your name. When your child is small, you should watch him when he plays in the park, crosses the street -- and make him wear a bicycle helmet when he rides his bike. Your vigilance keeps your little one safe, even from dangers he doesn't know exist. While your child's safety is likely your number one concern, you should also understand that failure to protect your child could leave you legally liable if he's harmed.

2. Safer Neighborhoods

Many communities have neighborhood watches to make the community safer. Some neighborhood watch programs set up patrols that ride around looking for suspicious individuals who might pose a threat to your family or your home. Citizens Patrol works with local law enforcement to accomplish a similar task. You can get involved in making your neighborhood safer by watching what goes on around you and reporting suspicious individuals to the police. You should also explain to your child how to recognize a safe place to go in your neighborhood if she's frightened, needs help, or can’t find you. For example, you might want tell her that she can run to the home of a family friend, or if that person home, to go to the home of a young family in the neighborhood.

3. Community Safety Workers

The public health, police, fire and emergency response department help keep your community safe -- and you should help your child recognize the uniforms of these safety workers. Your child should also respect and obey crosswalk guards and learn to cross only at the crosswalk. Talk to your child about working with safety workers, such as not hiding from a firefighter if the house is on fire, or seeking out a police officer or security guard if he becomes separated from your or feels threatened.

4. Educating Kids

Your local library, schools and day care associations might help you educate your child about safety in the community. Some of these organizations invite police officers, firefighters and other community workers to come and meet children -- and talk to the kids about personal safety. Support these programs by taking your child to the events and reviewing the information after the program is complete. Thank these organizations for their efforts and participate when they need community volunteers so your child understands that these programs help protect her.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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