1. Teach your children not to open the front door. The only exceptions in our house are a parent or grandparent, no one else. I love my friend Kate’s suggestion: “We’ve taught our kids to smile and wave (in their case, they can be seen) and then come and get us.” Explain to your child that anyone who is a friend will not mind waiting.
2. Teach your child their home address and telephone number and parents’ full names.
3. Teach your child when and how to dial and request help from emergency services (dial 000 in Australia). Talk through a range of situations where you should (and shouldn’t) call for help.
4. Create ‘Favourites’ for your spouse/partner and one or two immediate family members (or trusted friends) in your mobile phone and teach your child how to find and call them. I regularly have Immy use my phone to call her Dad or Grandma from my Favourites list so that if she ever needs to she can call them by herself.
5. For older children, create a simple text code (for example, 111) that they can use to contact you if they are scared or in danger.
6. Develop a memorable family code wordthat is only to be given to family members or trusted friends for your kids in your absence. Teach your children that they are never to leave with anyone who can’t say the secret code. The word should remain a secret and changed if others learn of it.
7. Teach children to listen to that little voice that tells them something is not right, and to trust it. Tell them that sometimes adults may make them feel uncomfortable and that it is always okay for them to move away or leave immediately, and to tell a trusted adult what happened. It is important that your children know that you will always help and support them, and that you will never be upset at them trying to protect themselves.