A friend reminded me this morning about a time back in the 80s when it was a fad for kids to wear their names plastered on their t-shirts. One day as she was walking down the road, some guy called out to her by name.
“How did you know my name?” she asked him, and he pointed to where it was printed on her clothing. That was the end of that fad for my friend – her mother immediately vetoed public displays of her name on any of her attire.
Back then, we were taught to come up with a code word between family members to help distinguish between strangers and friends should someone we don’t know need to pick us up in an emergency (which still seems kind of weird, since why would we have a stranger to our children drive our children anywhere?). We were told to find a person in uniform or a mother should we find ourselves lost, or just stay in one spot and wait for someone to find us. And by kindergarten, our very first assignment was to memorize our address and phone number.
Nowadays, even more methods have been introduced to keep kids safe. Some school photo companies are adding free ID cards to their packages, like Lifetouch did for my own daughter with SmileSafe Kids, a national program by the photo company in connection with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The KlaasKids Foundation offers free Child Identification Kits that include fingerprinting and places to store updated photos so you have all the necessary information an officer would need should your child go missing. A system that shows the sign of the times is one created by ChildIDCode.com, where they create disposable stickers with a QR code (a special alien-like symbol that leads to a website when you scan it with a special app on your smart phone) that directs to the parent’s phone number. And the fear of kids wandering off unexpectedly has many parents (myself included, back in the day), reaching for the child
leash harness and tethering their kid to prevent a terrifying search for a missing child.
My friend shared with me her own way of keeping kids safe in especially populated places, like Six Flags or Disneyland, or even the downtown farmer’s market. On a recent Girl Scout troop outing, she took photos of each kid, pasted it on a card and added in the troop leader’s contact info. Then she “laminated” it by using clear packing tape. Each kid got a card and were instructed to keep it on them at all times. One girl even stored it in her shoe for safe keeping.
And a great piece of advice I received was to take a photo of your kids before every major outing, showing what they look like that day – including the clothes they are wearing. This way if the worst happens, the police will have a better idea what to look for.
What precautions do you take to ensure your child’s safety in regards to strangers or getting lost?