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When I was around 30 weeks pregnant with my little girl I could not feel her kicking around in my stomach (and I had felt her everyday), and I got extremely worried something was wrong. I immediately called the doctor and asked to come in so they could check to ensure everything was okay. She was completely fine, but I remember asking my mom, “When do I stop worrying about her so much!?!?” My mom’s reply was, “You will never stop worrying about her.” And, now that she is 3-years-old, I worry about her even more than I did at that time.
I’m going on a serious rant for this post because recently my fairly small town was rocked by a very serious crime against a 6-year-old little girl, and since it happened, I have pretty much obsessed how I can keep my child safe. In the town where I live, things this evil NEVER happen, so for it to be happening in my own backyard (pretty much), it just makes it all the more real. This little girl was raped and murdered by her own neighbor, and a guy that regularly babysat her! The guy actually worked at a restaurant that I would frequent on my lunch breaks. So, it got me to thinking, who can you really trust with the safety of your child? You also probably recently heard about the nanny, who murdered the two children she was caring for. This was a nanny that the family both loved and trusted. They had even went on vacation with her!
I’m not trying to create more paranoid mommies with this post, but it has been weighing on my mind and I just have to post something about it! Yesterday, I was just thinking about how when I was only eight-years-old, I would walk about 1/2 a mile to the local convenience store to pick-up snacks and Garbage Pail Kids cards. Obviously, nothing ever happened to me and nor did I ever fear that it would at the time. It just seems as if times have changed since I was eight-years-old, which was about 27 years ago. I don’t ever want to make my child so paranoid and myself that she can’t do anything fun, but I think we just need to equip ourselves with the knowledge and her with the confidence to know right/wrong as she grows.
I’ve come across some tips and advice on how moms can protect their children:
1. Really be tuned into your child’s life and know the people in your child’s life – When I say “really know,” that means “really know.” Meeting someone one time is not knowing someone. Don’t let your guard down because someone is charming or nice. Most predators and abductors are someone your child knows, they are generally not strangers. And, really know the parents of the child if your child is at the sleepover age. My little girl is not at the sleepover age yet, but when she is, you can guarantee I will know the parents of her friends.
2. Don’t have the “it will never happen to us” mentality – Don’t leave your child alone or unattended in a public place. Keep your eye on them at all times. The other day I was returning something at Target, and there was a mom behind me also returning something, who had a child around the age of three with her. But, the child wasn’t really “with” her because the mom was in the line and her child was about 20 feet away from us. You could see the child from where we were standing, but I was the only one watching the child. The mom was talking to someone else in the line. The child disappeared behind a display, but it wasn’t until about a minute later that the mom noticed her child was no longer there. I think less than a minute is ALL it takes! Obviously, when your child gets to a certain age, it will be okay for them to walk around the store on their own, but three-years-old (or even four, five, six) is not the age.
3. Review the basic knowledge with your children – The “basic Knowledge” is what we’ve always been told and should share with our children: Never get into a car with a stranger, do not go to a second location with a stranger and never let someone swear you to secrecy. There should be NO secrets between parents and children. Be open, and let your children know they can talk to you about anything. You should also determine with your child who a “stranger” is at an early age. When Lexi was under two, she was Miss Friendly. She talked to everyone, hugged everyone and no one was a stranger in her eyes. I think she clearly knows who a stranger is now, and she’s still friendly, but has her guard up a little bit more.
4. Have a plan – Take up-to-date pics of your children and have them accessible if God forbid, something were to happen. Also, get your child fingerprinted. Most police stations will do this for free and your child will be entered into their database. And, have all emergency contact numbers available to you. You know 9-1-1, but do you also have the number for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in your phone? You should and if you don’t, it’s 1-800-843-5678.
This is just a few tips and obviously, there are many more. You can actually sign up for an eNewsletter on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children web site at http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/StayInformedServlet?... for more information.
Please be prepared! Your children’s safety depends on you!