Before we know it another school year will be finished and summer will begin. School children love this time of year as they get to sleep in, swim, go to camp or just relax at home.
But this is also a dangerous time of year for school age children. During these months school age children don't find themselves in the safe shelter of their community school or home school environment. More and more families find themselves leaving kids home alone for significant lengths of time while mom and dad work or go about their daily routine. Children are dropped off at malls, community pools, friends neighborhoods, community centers and parks. Many parents have a false sense of security when it comes to their children over the summer months. The reality is evil doesn't take summers off. Bad guys like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are out their watching the malls, parks, pools and parentless neighborhoods ready with their net to snag the first stray child they see.
This is not just a elementary school child problem. Teens are also at a high risk of being exploited or abused during these summer months. Some would even suggest teens are at a higher risk that younger children as their supervised time and ability to travel on their own is generally increased. So what do we need to do about this?
Before the school age children in your life head out for the summer spend some time talking to them about being aware of their surroundings, honoring their intuition and saying something when they see something that is not right. If you are a school administrator consider sending a letter home to mom's and dad's reminding them of the importance of accountability and structure for their kids to help keep them safe. Maybe even suggest some creditable programs and facilities that parents who send their kids for some summer adventure such as community center day camps or library days.
Hopefully if we all do our part the Child Catcher won't find any easy targets to catch in his net.
This is John Baker for safetysolutions4schools.com. Image Courtesy of www.theguardian.com.