John Walsh’s Back-To-School Safety Tips For Kids & Parents
Share these simple steps for protection — from family emergency plans to the buddy system to yelling, when necessary, “This is not my parent!”
After suffering through the abduction and murder of his six-year-old son, Adam, in 1981, John Walsh has dedicated his life to teaching safety and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Now, with summer beginning its long wind-down, the host of Investigation Discovery’s In Pursuit With John Walsh offers five essential tips for keeping kids safe during back-to-school season. Here’s what Walsh advises:
- Develop a family safety plan for emergencies that’s easy to use and includes: designated meeting places outside of the house, emergency contact information, and a first-aid kit.
- Landmark your child’s school route with a map. Designate “safe zones” like schools, community centers, and libraries, where you know they can get help in an emergency.
- Get to know the other parents and children in your neighborhood and make sure your kids use the “buddy system” when walking to and from school.
- Reinforce “stranger danger” — saying no to strangers or any adult who makes them feel scared or uncomfortable, and quickly getting away while yelling, “This is not my parent!”
- Consider personal safety products designed to help keep your kids safe in the case of any uncertain or dangerous situations, including getting lost, threatening strangers, allergic reactions, medical emergencies, and bullying.
In addition, Walsh encourages children to specifically run away from potential abductors such as:
- A stranger who pulls up in a car and asks the child for directions.
- A stranger who touches the child.
- A stranger who asks the child to help search for a lost pet.
- A stranger who offers the child candy, toys, and other come-ons.
In the event that a potential predator puts a hand on a child, Walsh tells kids to scream, kick, punch, and fight them off however possible.
In addition, Walsh advises children to immediately tell an adult or a law-enforcement officer if anyone touches them inappropriately — including members of their own family.
Directly addressing parents, Walsh has suggested taking these five steps to help ensure children’s safety:
- Talk honestly and candidly with kids about protecting themselves. This could include role-playing games regarding how they should react when confronted with danger.
- Monitor children’s internet and cellphone activity. Apps are available that will help reduce potential predator access and alert parents to possible trouble by “red flagging” messages.
- Create a child-safety kit that includes clear, recent photos of the child. To that end, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers Safety Central, a free, easy-to-use app for creating an instantly shareable “safety kit” that’s downloadable here.
- Report missing children immediately. In the past, law enforcement could not enact missing-children reports until 24 to 48 hours since they were last seen. Those restrictions no longer exist, so parents can and should instantly inform the police the moment they notice a child is missing.
- Share photos of missing children. Social media has proven to be an invaluable tool for helping locate kids and prevent additional tragedies.
Watch Investigation Discovery's In Pursuit With John Walsh on ID GO now!