Although protecting our children is a natural instinct, we offer these helpful child safety tips for parents.
General Child Safety for Parents
- Straight talk with children works best when discussing the serious topic of personal safety with your children. Do not rely completely on puppets, coloring books, gimmicks, and cartoon characters.
- Instill in your children a sense of self-worth and dignity at every opportunity.
- Teach your children basic sex education, (i.e., the areas of the body that are covered by a bathing suit are private).
- Establish that inappropriate touches are against the law. This gives your child confidence to assert themselves with those who try to abuse them.
- Allow children to express affection on their terms. Do not instruct them to give kisses or hugs to people they do not know well.
- Stress that there should be no secrets from you, especially those involving another adult.
- Explain the importance of reporting abuse or attempted abuse to or another trusted adult. This would also apply to inappropriate touching.
- Do not rely entirely on the buddy system. In many documented cases, sisters, brothers, and playmates have been victims of terrible crimes when together.
- Make it a priority to get to know your children's friends and their families.
- Encourage involvement in extracurricular activities. Children with many interests are less likely to experiment with drugs or other negative influences.
- Teach your children to respect, admire and celebrate the differences in people.
- Ask questions about what your children are doing, where they are going and whom they will be with.
- Set times to be home or check in. Have a back-up plan.
- A child's room should not be considered their private, personal domain where parents are not allowed to check them.
- Monitor computer and Internet usage, daily, if possible.
- Above all, encourage your children to recognize, trust, and follow their instincts about people and situations. Listen to their instincts.
Good parenting is asking the hard questions and caring about the answers.
Stranger Safety Tips for Children
What is a stranger?
A stranger is someone that you do not know or your parents do not know. Strangers are even people you see every day. Not all strangers are bad, but it is very difficult to tell bad strangers from good strangers
Examples of strangers:
- A person you have never met before.
- A person you may see often, but know nothing about; e.g., the ice cream person, mail person, newspaper person, or a neighbor.
- A person whose name and address you do not know.
- A person your parents do not know.
- Strangers can come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. Even a teenager could be considered a stranger to you.
If approached by a stranger:
- Don't talk or go near that person.
- Don't accept gifts or rides from that person.
- Don't go anywhere with that person.
- Step backwards if a stranger comes toward you. Turn around and run away.
- Report strangers to your parents, teachers, bus drivers or a responsible adult you know well.
- The main rule to remember: Stay away from strangers.
Examples of stranger scenarios:
- What should you do if a stranger asks you for help or offers you candy, a toy, or a pet?
Say "NO", turn around and run away.
- What should you do if a stranger asks you to go for a ride in their car?
Say "NO", and run in the opposite direction that the car is going.
- What should you do if a stranger tries to grab you?
You can yell for help! You can kick, scratch, or bite! You can run away as fast as you can.
- What should you do if a stranger has a gun and tells you to go with him?
Yell for HELP! Run away as fast as you can, and continue yelling for help. Go tell an adult.
Always remember to tell your parents, a police officer, a teacher, a bus driver, or another adult you trust and know about what happened as soon as possible.
Being safe at home when you are alone
- Always lock the door. Do not answer the door if someone knocks. Never let strangers into the house.
- If the telephone rings, answer it. Do not tell anyone that you are alone. (You can tell them your parent cannot come to the phone right now). Ask who is calling, and offer to take a message.
- If there is a storm, stay away from the windows.
- Leave medicines and poisons alone, they can really hurt you.
- Do not play or touch any guns that might be in the house.
Other rules for safety
- Never go anywhere without first telling your parents, or the person in charge, where you are going, who is going with you, how you will get there, and when you will be back.
- Always use the buddy system when playing outside or going places.
- Always say "NO" if someone tries to touch you in ways that make you feel frightened, uncomfortable, or confused. Always tell a grown-up that you trust about what happened.
- Always go directly home from school or the bus stop.
Child Safety Brochure
Child Safety Recommendations for Vehicles
Throughout the United States, numerous youth fatalities and injuries have resulted from improper use of off-road vehicles. Many of these accidents stem from their illegal use on public roadways and sidewalks. Parents and guardians should strictly monitor and supervise such activities involving minors.
- Off-road recreational vehicles driven by minors should be under adult supervision.
- The operation of off-road recreational vehicles should only occur during daylight hours or in a well-lighted area because most off-road vehicles are not equipped with lights and reflectors.
- Helmets, gloves, goggles and knee pads should be worn.
- Long pants, long-sleeved shirts and over-the-ankle boots offer protection from minor injury and sunburn.
- Drivers should not ride with passengers because most off-road vehicles are designed for single-operator use. Riding along with another person (the buddy system) on their own vehicle is suggested for additional safety.
- Make sure that the vehicle selected is appropriate for the size and abilities of the child.
As of July 1, 2008, while operating an off-highway vehicle, a person who has not attained 16 years of age must have in his or her possession a certificate evidencing the satisfactory completion of an approved off-highway vehicle safety course in this state or another jurisdiction. A nonresident who has not attained 16 years of age and who is in this state temporarily for a period not to exceed 30 days is exempt from this subsection. F.S. 261.20.
All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
ATVs are motorized off-highway vehicles 50 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 900 pounds or less, designed to travel on three or more low pressure tires, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control, and intended for use by either a single operator, or by an operator and a rider. Riders may only ride on ATVs designed for two riders. F.S.316.2074(2); F.S. 261.20(5)(a). Off-highway vehicles must be equipped with a silencer if used on public lands. F.S. 261.20(4)(c).
ATV courses and training are available through agencies such as the ATV Safety Institute, 1-(800) 887-2887, and motorcycle training is available through the National Safety Council, 1-(800) 621-7619. According to F.S. 316.2123, the operation of an ATV, upon the public roads or streets of this state is prohibited, except that an ATV may be operated during the daytime on an unpaved roadway where the posted speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour.
Any ATV operation that is permitted under F.S. 316.2123 may be undertaken only by a licensed driver or a minor who is under the direct supervision of a licensed driver. The operator must provide proof of ownership upon the request of a law enforcement officer. No person under the age of 16 years of age shall operate, ride, or be otherwise propelled on an ATV unless the person wears a safety helmet meeting United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) standards and eye protection. F.S. 316.2074(3). Operating an off-highway vehicle on public lands while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or any prescription or over-the-counter drug that impairs vision or motor condition is prohibited. Operators of off-highway vehicles on public lands under the age of 16 must wear a helmet, eye protection and over-the-ankle boots. F.S. 261.20(5).
According to F.S. 316.2074(4), if a crash results in the death of any person or in the injury of any person which results in treatment of the person by a physician, the operator of each ATV involved in the crash shall give notice of the crash pursuant to F.S. 316.066. A violation of F.S. 316.2074 is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation. Any person who violates F.S. 261.20 is subject to a fine and may have their privilege to operate an ATV on public lands revoked.
Motorized Scooters and Miniature Motorcycles
Motorized scooters are defined as any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground. Motorized scooters are also called GoPeds. Miniature motorcycles are small two wheel vehicles that resemble full size motorcycles. They are also called "pocket bikes" and "Baby Ninjas." Miniature motorcycles do not fit into the legal definition of a motorcycle. Motorized scooters and miniature motorcycles are not legal to operate on public roads or sidewalks of this state. F.S. 316.2128.
A toy car is any battery or gas-powered, two-wheeled or four-wheeled replica of a vehicle. These vehicles are popular with young children. Parents must provide safe areas for children to drive toy cars, since they are not allowed on the road. Protective helmets and clothing are recommended.
Every person who operates a motor vehicle, every passenger in the front seat, and all persons under the age of 18, whether driving or not, must wear either a seat belt or child restraint device. If the driver is under 18, everyone must be restrained. F.S. 316.614. Operators of motor vehicles transporting a child 5 years of age or younger on the roadways, streets or highways of this state shall utilize a crash-tested, federally-approved, child-restraining device. For children 3 years of age or younger, such restraint device must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer's integrated child seat. For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a seat belt may be used. F.S. 316.613(1)(a).