In England last week, a teenage girl disappeared as she walked home from her grandmother’s house. Neighbours, friends and relatives searched for this child throughout the night and way into the next day. By the end of the week, the tired search parties had still come up empty handed. The child’s grandmother’s boyfriend made an emotional plea on a TV interview, beseeching the girl to return home, or for anyone with information to come forward.
A few days later the girl’s body was found in a black bag under a mattress in the house her grandmother shared with her boyfriend. Needless to say, this innocent soul’s body could not just turn up there by accident. She was killed.
A week later, a 10 year-old girl and her 2 year-old sister were struck down in the street by a hit and run driver while walking to the shop together. No one can imagine what both these poor families are facing at the moment.
We can blame all this on the holiday season – the fact that our kids are not as supervised as we would like them to be (and as they normally are). Whatever we want to blame, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves about ways we could protect our children as we come to the close of the school vacation.
Family aren’t dependent just because they’re family
Where our kids are concerned, we have to pick the best possible person to take care of them when we are at work. Many children arrive home before their parents do. They’re left unsupervised for a few hours – and kids only need a few minutes to get into trouble. After all, they’re meant to be carefree. They’re kids. Remember that family members may not be the best solution for caring for the kids in your absence. Some family members can be lead astray by the people they associate with. If they have people in their lives you can’t trust, then chances are you can’t trust them with your children either. A stranger may do a better job in this case.
Kids can be led astray if they’re left too long on their own
If kids are walking home from school with the knowledge that they won’t have to answer to anyone when they get home, they tend to stray out of their neighbourhood. It’s easy for them to go to friends’ homes if they know that no one’s at home to check their time of arrival. Of course, your children need some measure of freedom, but if they go out on their own always keep a tab on where they’re going, how long it takes to get there and when they’re arriving back home. It only takes one deviation in an unknown part of town for kids to potentially find trouble or unscrupulous adults who mean them harm.
Don’t give young kids responsibilities they can’t honour – especially when they’re out and about
Young kids – if they’re walking to and from home on their own, need to concentrate on the road. They can’t tell the distance between a car and themselves like adults can. It’s hard enough keeping safe on the roads (adults get knocked over), let alone doing so when you have a toddler or animal on tow. Don’t give this responsibility to young kids. They won’t think twice about running into the road in chase of a ball, an animal or a younger child. How about you? What other precautions do you take to protect your kids? Please share them with us.
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Anne, the author of this post, writes about family and relationships on the Relationship Blog.