Listen—really listen—to what your child tells you about friends, the neighborhood, worries, and fears. Thoughtful listening builds communication and trust, which are keys to helping your kids grow up safe.
Talk with your kids about drugs, violence, and other problems. Make your family values clear, and provide a good example.
Make sure you know your child’s friends and the friends’ parents.
Before your children go to another home, ask the adults there whether they have guns or alcohol and if so whether these are securely and safely stored.
Check out the neighborhood with your child. Find out where he or she feels safe and unsafe. Work with neighbors to address problems such as unsafe “shortcuts,” dangerous intersections, areas where shrubbery needs trimming back, lack of safe places to seek help.
Set up clear rules for play after school, on weekends, and during “time off” in the summer or at holidays. Help your child review them regularly.
Urge kids to play in groups, which are far less susceptible to an approach by strangers. Be a helping adult. Let kids know that they can tell you anything and that you will listen caringly. Mentor a child who needs adult support.
Officer Larry Jacobs is the Crime Prevention Officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.