Did you know that there is a 1 in 42 chance that YOUR child will become lost, missing, or abducted? In other words … those are not odds in your favor! To many people have become very complacent about child safety. They seem to have a “It couldn’t happen to my child” attitude. You can believe that if you ask any of the parents of missing children, they thought the same thing. And you can also bet, their attitude has changed significantly.
What can you do, right now, that will dramatically put those odds back in your control? Start using “code words” in your family, today.
Here are the most important basics of using code words. Let’s begin …
Who uses the code word? Other than his/her parents, there should be only one or two relatives or very close, trusted family friends that a child should be taught are “special” enough to trust to pick him/her up from school or some other activity away from home.
When do you use the code word? If you are not able to pick up your child at an agreed upon time, and there is no way for you to contact your child, you should contact the “special person” to pick up your child. In the rare event that you can not pick up your child, and you can not reach the “special person”, the family code word MUST be used.
What should I use for the family “code word?” The family code word is a pre-determined word that should be very easy for your child to remember, but one that would be very difficult for someone else to guess. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! I will repeat this: The code word must be simple for your child to remember, yet very difficult for someone to guess. Some suggestions I recommend to use would be names of animals, such as, crocodile, giraffe, baboon, goldfish. DO NOT USE names that are common around your house. Such as, never use the name of your child’s favorite animal or pet.
Never choose a “code word” that is from things that are common to your family or house. Be creative, and make this a fun activity with your children. And be very specific. Don’t just decide on “bear” for your code word, how about using a “purple bear.” Remember, child safety should be fun. You don’t want to frighten your children.
How does my child use the code word system? If anyone other than yourself, your spouse, or the “special person” say’s they are there to pick up your child on your authority, your child should know to ask that person, “What’s the code word?” You should teach your child to disbelieve anyone who tries to pick them up if they do not know the code word.
Do I continue to use the same code word, always? Definitely not! After an emergency situation arises where the code word must be used, the family needs to pick a new code word. Emphasize to the children that they should no longer respond to the old one. Be sure to review the new code word often enough to help all family members to remember it.
let me conclude this article on child safety by telling you that code words work. They have saved the lives of many children. This simple, yet highly effective tool is widely used by many families. There have been many, many police reports of children using the code word tool successfully.