Halloween night is upon us – a time of costumes, candy and fun scares. The following tips will help keep your children safe during a night of trick-or-treating!
1. Children should remain with a trusted adult. If you can’t accompany your children trick-or-treating, it’s important that the chaperone is someone you and your children can count among your most trusted friends or family members. Don’t allow your children to walk into a home alone, even if they’re invited to walk into a haunted house or Halloween party.
2. If your children are old enough to be without your supervision, develop a P.L.A.N. Your children must have Permission before they go anywhere, and choose a trick-or-treating Location you are familiar with. Ask your children for a list of specific Activities and times, and hold them accountable to that schedule. Finally, collect the Names and phone Numbers of the people your children will be with on Halloween night.
3. Your children may have opted to keep their costumes a secret until Halloween. While this is fine, it is important to teach your children that not all secrets are safe. Secrets that are never meant to be told and make a child feel nervous or “icky” are unsafe secrets. Let your children know they need to come to you or another trusted adult for help if they have an unsafe secret.
4. Teach children what a stranger really is. Children often think strangers are big, scary people wearing dark colors. They need to know that, especially during a time when people wear costumes, strangers are anyone they don’t know well. Strangers don’t always look scary, and it is important to decide if someone is safe or unsafe based on how they make you feel, not by how they look on the outside.
5. Empower children to listen to their inner voice and speak up. Sometimes children don’t want to go up to a specific house because it looks scary — this is okay. Teach your children that when they are unsure of a situation and a voice inside is telling them something isn’t right, they should listen. By using a loud and confident voice to say, “Stop! That’s not safe!” children are able to grab the attention of a trusted adult quickly and get help.
6. Check the offender/predator registry. When deciding on a neighborhood or route for trick-or-treating, it’s a good idea to search the online registry of sexual offenders and predators at offender.fdle.state.fl.us so you can determine which houses to avoid.
Many of these safety tips are based on concepts from the Lauren’s Kids Safer, Smarter Kids abuse prevention curriculum. For more information about child safety and the Lauren’s Kids foundation, visit LaurensKids.org.
Lauren Book, founder and CEO, Lauren's Kids, Aventura