Give your kid a safe word as part of their back to school kit. Revisit old safe words if you have them and remind everyone what the safety routine is. Now is a great time to check that proverbial seat belts are fastened.
Just about every parent of a school aged kid has been to the store by now to pick up school supplies. New clothes, pencils, maybe a reference guide or two. Going back to school is an exciting time!
It's also a time where you and your kids will be exposed to new people, new traffic flows, new activities, and new dangers. Changes in family routines can create confusion. Make sure no one can take advantage of that fact.
Have a family safe word. A safe word is a secret word that only you and your kids know. It's passed off to other trusted adults when necessary to communicate to the child that this adult can be trusted.
A good example: You drop your son or daughter off at school. They have soccer practice after school and you plan to pick him or her up once practice is done. Something comes up and you physically can't get to your kid. In a panic, you call someone you know who is close by. You ask them to go pick your kid up from soccer practice and take them back to their house until you can get to them. They agree.
Fast forward to the pick up. The person you trust pulls up in their car at that intended pick up point. Your son or daughter has no idea you aren't coming.
Hey <your kid's name>! Your Mom asked me to pick you up and take you home today. C'mon! Hop in!
That should make your cringe. If you've done you're job right, there is no way your child is going to get into that car. It doesn't matter if they recognize the face as a neighbor (all child molesters are somebody's neighbor). Your kid is going to go get another adult and report the fact that they've been approached... right?
Anyway, if you had a safe word, you would have passed that to your trusted adult. Your child should be taught to challenge an unknown adult (or an adult acting in an unfamiliar scenario like the one above) for the password. If the adult has no password, your child knows this is not good. If the adult has the password, your child knows that it's okay to get in the car. Make sense?
If you do implement this system, be sure to change the password once the family gets together again. In my family's world, each password gets one use. Show up with an old password and sorry, Charlie. My kid's going to the authorities.
Best of luck to you in the new school year!
If you have any other good ideas for keeping kids safe in the new year, please hit reply and share your idea below.