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Oct 12, 2012 1:41 AM by Jacqui Heinrich, jheinrich@koaa.com

Tips on teaching child safety

After Jessica Ridgeway's disappearance, many parents are worried about their own childrens' safety.

How do you teach them to be cautious without scaring them? Jan Isaacs Henry, Executive Director at Kidpower-- a local organization that teaches child safety in schools-- says it's all about delivery. "It's all about not doing it with fear," she says. "I think you can teach this just as you do a lot of other safety skills, whether it be with electricity or walking across the street. These are what we call 'people safety skills' and we want to make sure we're presenting these skills in a way that's really calm and matter-of-fact, and not bring our own anxiety into it."

Experts at Kidpower say parents need to teach child safety in a way that won't project their own anxiety or fear onto their child, which could potentially make them afraid of the outside world. They say there are fun, interactive ways to make learning effective and healthy.

From the experts: first, talk to your kids about how to recognize who a stranger is, even if they may seem nice. They should also learn to identify someone they can run to for help, like a postal worker or a store clerk. Kids need to know how to move away from people that make them uncomfortable, travel in groups, and get permission about where they go especially when changing plans.

Second, walk with your child and determine the safest route for them to take to and from school, that way  you'll always be on the same page about where they're traveling. Avoid isolated places, difficult streets to cross, and other hazards. Also point out safe places along the route where they can go in case of an emergency; examples are homes of trusted neighbors or businesses.

Last, practice these steps together so you are confident your child has the skills they need to keep safe and they feel prepared to go out on their own. Experts say keep practicing until your child is aware, calm, and confident in every situation, and you are sure they will stick to the established plan even if someone tries to persuade them otherwise.

For younger kids, make learning fun by practicing screaming "NOT MY MOMMY" or "NOT MY DADDY"-- these are tools they can use if they're endangered.

For more child safety tips, click here.

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