According to educator and author Paula Statman, child safety is a job that parents assume early and continue into adulthood, but she warns that "scaring some sense" into your children does not offer appropriate educational benefits. It doesn't have to be frightening to teach your child personal safety strategies.
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Internet and General Safety Activity Cards
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has an online resource called NetSmartz, where parents can download fun, instructional videos and age-appropriate activity cards for teaching their children general personal safety and Internet safety rules and strategies. Each age group, divided by grade level (kindergarten to grade two, three through four, five through six, middle school and high school) has general personal safety card series titled, "Know the Rules." Each series has four cards covering the subject headings Check First, Take a Friend, Tell People No and Tell a Trusted Adult. Each card has a couple of 15- to 30-minute activities that allow parents to casually discuss important topics at a level appropriate and easy to understand for the child. Each age level also includes Internet safety-specific topics like instant messaging, Internet vocabulary, online profiles, chat rooms, cyber-bullying, web files and viruses, with real-life stories to add relevance to the lesson. There are handouts, visual aids and games that you can print and use without a computer.
Personal Safety Games
McGruff the Crime Dog is a crime-fighting character created by the National Crime Prevention Council in 1980. On the McGruff website, there are 35 different interactive games like word searches, tic-tac-toe, memory, mazes and puzzles that teach personal safety. Topics addressed include saying no to drugs and gangs, bullying, fire, Internet and traffic safety and crime prevention. The site also includes a parent and teacher section that has articles and tips on child safety.
According to the National Safety Town organisation, the Safety Town program, which was established in 1964, exists in over 3,500 communities across the United States and in 38 countries worldwide. It is generally offered by municipal city halls or local police departments as a two-week summer day-camp program for preschoolers and kindergartners (typically ages 5 through 6), although some programs offer a condensed version for field trip opportunities. A miniature city is structured to interactively teach about strangers, traffic, pedestrian rules and safety, the bus, bicycles, fire, water, guns and dangerous chemicals like drugs. Videos, firehouse tours and games are some of the fun training aids used in the program. You can do an Internet search with your city or county name and "Safety Town" to locate a Safety Town program near you.
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