Wednesday

Parenting: Teaching Your Kid How to Get Home Safely


The National Center for Missing and Exploited Center reported that there are roughly about 2,000 children that go missing/are exploited each day – Now THAT is horrifying!


If you're one of my loyal readers then you are aware that I'm a full time college student. For this portion of the semester I have decided to take a two classes that had a two hour gap between them. This gap gives me enough time to go back home walk my dog and run some quick simple errands. As you've probably experienced it for yourself or if you've seen it in the news, there was a huge snow storm where I reside here in New York City. It was a very dangerous day for animals, commuters, pedestrians, babies, the elderly, pregnant women, and most of all children who had school today. Yes some children actually had school today. 


Aside from being pregnant and the snow storm being dangerous for me, I'm a responsible and seasoned adult. I understand that I have to go to college even when there's a blizzard. But children...... and that's anyone under 18 - personally I consider anyone under 21years of age a child since according to Psychology, your frontal lobe, which is the part of your brain responsible for decision making isn't fully developed until the age of 25. 


When I had completed my errands, I safely rushed to the train station. The snow was so slippery even my heavy duty Hunter Boots could not compete. As I passed by the many schools near my home, I saw children running to their parents/guardians, waving goodbye to their incredible teachers who sacrificed themselves into freezing outside until each child was safely with their registered parent/guardian --now that's a devoted and passionate teacher!


Then there were the pre-teen kids from around 10 to 13 years old. They ran home independently which is fine if they were properly taught by their parents. But once I went on the train there were a group of kids, a little boy and five little girls, that by fate, I sat next to - usually I sit far far away but the train was rushing to leave and sometimes the jerks on the train close the door on elderly and pregnant women but that's a different problem.

As soon as I sat down next to the children I could tell by their body language that they were uneasy. Of course children are always hyper especially with their friends and during a snow day! Forget about it! They're one candy bar short of bouncing off the walls. I had decided to take a listen, not only because they alarmed me but they were shouting "NO LISA (not the girls real name)! YOU GET OFF ON THE NEXT STOP! THEN YOU TAKE THE Y009 BUS TO YOUR HOUSE!" The poor little girl had a big smile on her face but I could tell that she was about to cry. It sort of reminded me of the struggles my mom had being a single parent. Apparently the little girls parents couldn't pick her up because her dad was at work and her mom was at home trying to start the car but something went wrong and she couldn't pick her daughter up.


This is a huge mistake, but it happens, like my mom always says "Being a parent doesn't come with a Manual" but if it did I'm pretty sure it would still leave a few details out, especially in this ever changing society. So what could have Lisa's mother have done to make sure her daughter did not get lost or even worse? GOD FORBID!

Here is My Advice based on My Experience with Children:

·      Talk to Your Child: Please don’t give me that sad excuse of “my child isn’t listening to me” Maybe she/he isn’t listening to you but as long as the WiFi and headphones aren’t in the picture they have no choice but selective hearing. Selective hearing is when you choose what you want to hear. So my advice is KEEP TALKING. TALK TALK TALK & once they hear some interesting words or phrases they’ll be curious and ask questions. That’s when you smile deep down inside, listen to them carefully and answer their question not just as a concerned parent but as a friend, as someone who also used to be a confused child in a big city who is stuck between the fantasy of Disney world and crazy New Yorkers.

·      Be Honest: I know that our children will always be our babies no matter how old they get but it is important to be honest with your child. Honesty not only helps them build values. 
---- Depending on their age I either have "the talk" or "Play a Game" on safety: If your child is old enough you can tell them that if someone they don't know approaches them to simply ignore them and keep walking as quickly as they can, as far away as they can with their phone in their hands. 

The Talk:
I have taught all ten of my little cousins:
If a stranger approaches you and you feel in danger, SPEED WALK OR RUN!
If a stranger touches your child in any involuntary way, SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU CAN FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN, QUICKLY SNAP A PICTURE OF THE PERSON, RUN TO A PUBLIC PLACE AND CALL THE COPS
If a stranger tells you something perverted, offensive or abusive QUICKLY SNAP A PICTURE OF THE PERSON, RUN TO A PUBLIC PLACE AND CALL THE COPS


----- How do you call 911? Yes. I have actually heard this question before. Teach your child what the purpose of a 911 call is and how to make a quick call if they feel their life is in danger. One example is, get to the point "I'm a 12 years old, walking on Main St and Broadway in front of Joey's Supermarket and there is a man/woman in a black coat he/she looks about 30-40 years old and they're following me, he/she asked my "How was your day sexy?" and I'm scared. Teach your child to then go to a public place like a Starbucks or even better a school that's nearby, your child should inform the manager/principal/security or the head of the After-school staff of what has happened and have your child ask them if it was okay if they stay there until the police arrive. Have your child call you immediately and let you know where they are, what happened and what they should do. As a parent this is your chance to say you have an emergency and run over to help your child. Take these situations seriously. 


Here are things that your child could do/have done while walking home from school when he/she noticed they were being followed or when they were approached. This one is a bit risky but desperate times call for desperate measures, if your child feels seriously in danger have them sneakily and in a creative way take a picture of the person and text it to you immediately as they are speed walking.

One thing my mother and I always had was a secret code in case I felt my life was in danger. Now that I'm older I won't be needing it anymore so I'll share it with you all to give you ideas: "The Kettle is Burning" 

Get it? The predator won't have a clue that you are actually speaking of them. But you and your child will know. That's when it's important to know your child's location. At the bottom of this post I have some applications that I have recommended to my relatives and friends with children.

·      Current Events: Sit down and have a talk with your child about current events and what you would do if you were in their situation. Sometimes this can be tough so you might need your partner or even call up your mommy friend and her daughter/son or your sibling to help you with this tough topic. Sometimes even asking the teacher for help might work too. Then you can discuss it when she/he comes home from school.
·   Print It: Let your child(ren) print out a map of the train and bus routes of their county/town and put it up in their room, if they share their room with their younger or older siblings you’d be surprised they’ll remember the map by heart over time!


Activities: Who said talking safety and independence had to be boring? Make it into an activity. Ask your child a trivia question: If I want to get to this train stop which train can I take?
o      Begin with easy questions
o      Don’t forget to reward your child, give them a high five and Cheer Them On!
o      If they get the answer wrong, help out but whatever you do Do Not be hard on them.



Apps Your Children Should Have:



Life360 - Family Locator

Life360 is a phone app allows you and your family to create a "family circle" 
You can invite your spouse and children to the circle and only those in the circle will have access
to locations of each member.

The app is free and very easy to download just go on the internet of your phone and type in www.life360.com 
Then click on "Get the Free App" as pictured below on the phone
Now let the app download, you may be asked for your password, enter it, your card shouldn't be charged since the app is free but for security reasons you still need to go through the process as though you are making a purchase by ONLY entering your password for your phones app store.

Once you download the app you can check up on your children, see where they are, check up on your spouse see if they're on their way home or if they're still stuck in traffic.
The only pet peeve I have with this app is that you have to check in every 5 minutes or sometimes every half hour. Otherwise it's a great app and I absolutely love it! When your child hasn't updated their current location the app will notify you and you can message/e-mail your child to update their location. Just remember that kids can also use this as an excuse to use their cellphone in class so avoid them getting into trouble and let them know that they should use the app before class begins and whenever they leave the classroom to go to the bathroom or when they're in front of the school or on a school field trip etc.... Also write a note to your teacher explaining why your child will be on their phone each time their location changes. Remember to let your child know that this doesn't give them permission to not listen to their teacher or be disruptive at the same time they should also remember to update their location so stay alert if their signal is lost.




Subway & Bus Maps for Andriod Phones:

You can actually install this app for free on Google Play, if you live in NYC here's your: Subway & Bus Map App for Andriod



Subway & Bus Maps for iPhones:

This app is also Free on iTunes: New York Subway Map for iPhone






This app is also Free on iTunes: NYC Bus Checker




****REMEMBER TO LET YOUR CHILD(REN) KNOW WHEN TO USE THEIR PHONE IN PUBLIC - THERE ARE MANY CASES OF PHONES BEING STOLEN ESPECIALLY ON TRAINS/BUSES 

PLEASE TEACH YOUR CHILD TO SIT IN THE TRAIN CAR WHERE THE TRAIN CONDUCTOR IS -- IF ON THE BUS LET THEM SIT IN THE FRONT OF THE BUS CLOSE TO THE BUS DRIVER 
I strongly believe that this is a safer seating option for them. 

Also make sure that your child has a plan on how to get home i.e.: who else lives nearby, if your mommy-friend can help you pick up your kids, an emergency plan in case dangerous weather strikes.


Helpful Links for Parents/Guardians:







If you have any advice, tips or stories to share please comment them below.
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As Always Thank You For Reading
x o x o
Amela Sandra

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