Halloween Safety- should be on the minds of all parents

As child safety experts we are sure you are not surprised to see a blog about safety as Halloween approaches and we promise this won’t be a long boring blog… Just a short one to give you a few tips to make it a safe and fun evening for all.

While teaching KidSafe’s Abduction Prevention lesson yesterday with 3rd and 4th graders, in almost all of our classes, the discussion turned to safety at Halloween and it had us shocked at what some of these kids are allowed to do and alarmed us somewhat for their safety. So instead of telling you what these kids are doing here are some tips and ideas for you to think about to keep your children safe while participating in knocking on doors of strangers and asking for candy. Please before you & your child go out the door of your home,  if the area you live in has a sex offender data base – please check it!

(Florida  http://www. offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/homepage.do is the link)

  • Use the Buddy System – seems like common sense, but many kids are telling us they are walking around by themselves.  If your child does not have a group you need to go with them, (many of the kid’s say their moms claim they “have” to stay home to give out candy – REALLY? That is more important than keeping your child safe? NO!) Set a time you will walk around with your child, and then come home and give out candy. A win – win!
  • Only go to people’s homes you know. (Children tell us they are allowed to go to every house in their neighborhood.)
  • Tell your children to NEVER go inside someone’s house. (Children shared some pretty frightening stories about knocking on the door and being told to come in and get candy. We won’t go into details about the frightening situation that occurred, however even if our children may not understand the danger of going into a house – you do!) So before your child goes trick or treating sit down and have a discussion about the rules.
  • Tell your children NOT eat any candy until you have looked it over and deemed it “SAFE.” (And you have picked out some of the favorites for yourself.)
  • Tell your children to not go near dogs that you do not know. (One student shared a near miss attack by a pit-bull last year.)
  • If your children are going out with their friends and not with a grown-up, make sure you set up designated times for them to “check in” in with you.
  • Walk on the sidewalk if there is one. (If they are walking, especially on the street and wearing dark costumes, a flash light is highly recommended.)
  • Do not talk to anyone driving by in a car. (Remind them that adults they do not know should not be asking kids for help – they should be asking other adults.) If approached they need to report this to a grownup immediately.

Remember, this blog was inspired by conversations we had with 8 and 9 year olds yesterday as they shared their experiences during our KidSafe lessons. Halloween can be an amazing family holiday. We have neighbors that transform their garage into a haunted house and all the kids look forward to the scare and fun. Most of the families walk around in large groups – adults socializing as well as the children. BUT as  child safety experts we also see the not so safe side of Halloween – kids as young as 6 and 7 walking around without grownups, knocking on strangers doors for candy – this is a predators dream…children alone …and coming right to their door. We have to think of the messages we are sending our children.

For most families this is the ultimate fun and they celebrate together as a family and everyone has a safe and wonderful time. All we  ask is that you read this blog and consider some of the safety issues that may arise and sit down with your children and discuss a plan of action for their safety at Halloween. For more safety tips visit our website www.kidsafefoundation.org