Attorney Jim BradyThe mystery of “Baby Doe” has been confounding Massachusetts investigators since the remains of a young girl were found in Boston Harbor in late June. While this case presents a unique scenario as the child remains unidentified with no adults stepping forward to claim her as their own, it also serves to remind us how important it is to protect and monitor our own children. As we wait and hope for closure in the case of Baby Doe, the following tips and suggestions can help to keep your children safe and sound in your care.

  1. Give Your Children Knowledge – One of the most important things that you can do to protect your child is to make sure that they know some basic information about you and your family. Be sure that your child knows by memory their name, home address and the phone number of a parent or guardian. A firm grasp of this basic information can be enough to ensure that if you and your child are separated, your child will be able to identify themselves and you.
  2. Have A Plan – In the event that your child is lost, having a plan of action already in place can be extremely beneficial. You might, for example, teach your child that, if they were to be separated from you in a public area such as a shopping mall, they should approach the nearest store employee or representative and ask for help. Using the knowledge that you’ve instilled, they can ask the clerk to call you (or another parent or guardian) to come and pick them up.
  3. Don’t Instill Fear – While it’s important to make sure that your child is prepared in the case of emergency, it’s also important that your child not live in fear of a potential accident. When addressing these types of issues with your child, use a calm and soothing voice. Reinforce to your child that these emergency plans are important but that the first plan is to stay safe all along. Building trust through honest communication with your children is one of the best ways that you can keep them safe since that trust will lead to them better following the rules and plans that you want to establish.
  4. Strangers & Acquaintances – It’s important that your child understand when it’s okay to speak with a stranger – like in the example above when a store clerk is able to offer assistance. But it’s also important to realize that someone your child may not consider a stranger – someone that they’ve seen at school or in a public place – may also be a threat. Make sure your child knows that, even when they’re interacting with an adult that they know, they should make themselves heard if they don’t feel safe – this is one instance where screaming is not only okay but encouraged. Making noise is effective, too: the screaming of two children recently helped to prevent the attempted kidnapping of their brother.
  5. Watch and Listen – Perhaps the most important thing that you can do to protect your child is be a watchful parent. Know where your child is at all times and have a solid understanding of their schedule if they’re out of your home. And when your child talks to you, be sure to listen closely and to ask penetrating questions if you think something is amiss. By listening to what your child has to say you can learn about potential dangers and by remaining watchful you can actively prevent them.