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Don't lose your child!

There is no point in letting unrealistic fears ruin what should be a great opportunity to enjoy quality time with your children. The following suggestions are offered to alert rather than alarm you.

False sense of security

Often a false sense of security can descend when travelling with children; after all you are with them constantly, feeding, changing, amusing them, carrying them on and off various forms of transport. With so much contact it may not seem possible that you could lose your child, but with everything going on it is very easy to let your child out of your sight and become separated from you.

Prevention

If there are two adults travelling decide before you leave home who will be in charge of the children and who will be in charge of the travel arrangements and luggage. That way each adult cannot mistakenly assume that the other one was keeping an eye on the children.

Toddlers really need to wear a harness and reins. Young children need to hold your hand rather than the hand of his older brother or sister. Should you be separated always check the most life-threatening directions first i.e. swimming pool/water, main road/carpark etc.

You can lessen the risk of your child being "lost" for long by using K.id Bands whenever you are at the airport, station, on the beach, at pleasure parks, zoos, museums, throughout your holiday and in any busy place. Simply complete your contact details, i.e. mobile phone number and attach the brightly coloured band to your Childs wrist.

Come and tell before you go rule

Teach your three-four-five year old that he must never go anywhere with anybody without coming to tell the adult who is looking after him.

This message is particularly easy for this age group to understand because it fits in with their stage of development and therefore, makes perfect sense to them. Small children always want to know where parents are - even if they have only left the room to go to the toilet - so it seems entirely reasonable to them that you should feel the same way.

He should know that the "rule" established between you is absolute; that other family members and close friends all agree that it's right for children to "come and tell before you go", and, therefore anyone who tries to persuade him not to bother must be distrusted and disregarded.

When a small child gets separated from parents in a busy street, store or shopping center it is very distressing for adult and child alike. Youngsters will always get lost - and a lost child is a vulnerable child. Research shows wide variations in the way parents react when children get lost and in the way shop staff cope with lost children.

Likewise, advice given to children about what to do if they get lost varies enormously - often resulting in confusion and unnecessary delay. The Safe Child Scheme was launched in Shrewsbury in December 1993. Since then, the average time a lost child has been separated from his or her family whilst out shopping in the town has been dramatically reduced from 15 minutes to less than 5 minutes. The vast majority of children who get lost are reunited with their families very quickly and the chances of a child coming to harm during a separation are extremely remote - let's keep it that way by knowing what to do.

At as young an age as possible teach your child to: -

  • Recite his name, address and telephone number
  • Stay close to you and hold your hand or trolley when in busy places
  • Understand that store and shopping center staff wear uniforms and name badges
  • Identify the Safe Child 'holding hands" picture.

If you are little and lost…

These simple instructions can be easily followed by children, teach them to your child. The moment they realise they are lost, they should…

  1. STOP - stand still and LOOK around. But DO NOT run around.
  2. If you see the person you are shopping with, go straight back to them and hold their hand
  3. If you cannot see the person you are with, go straight to a till or a checkout and tell the person working there that you are lost.

If you get lost in a shopping center or street, go into the nearest shop and straight to a till or checkout.

Do not approach anyone else

If you are a parent or guardian…

  1. If inside a store enquire at the nearest till or checkout point
  2. If in a shopping center or street, enquire at the tills or checkouts of the nearest store.
  3. Listen carefully to any public address announcement
  4. If in a shopping center, alert the center's security staff
  5. Enquire at the nearest police station by contacting the nearest policeman.

If he is not found quickly, do not waste time; also notify the consular section of your embassy that usually have special staff trained to assist travellers in distress and who maintain contact with local police.

Safer clothing

It's always best to make a mental note of what your child is wearing and dress him in bright colours so that he stands out from the crowd, brightly coloured hats are a good idea too. When buying children's clothes avoid ones with their name on, and when labelling clothes or rucksacks etc always put the Childs name tags on the inside so that a stranger can't pretend to know your child by calling out his name.

Remember the main objective isn't to get someplace, it's to have fun times together.


 

 

 

 

 

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