Keeping Toddlers Safe

Child abduction continues to be a serious problem in the United States. Although teenagers comprise the majority of non-family abduction victims, parents of toddlers are often highly concerned about the best ways to keep their active, easily distracted children safe.

Ways to keep toddlers safe

  • Toddlers should be confined in carts or strollers during shopping trips.
  • If you have more than one small child, purchase a double (or even triple) stroller, or put both children into the shopping cart, even if it means getting fewer items. Consider shopping on your lunch hour or while the kids are at home.
  • Keeping track of more than one child at a playground can be challenging. If you’re not comfortable with the visibility at one playground, switch to another. If the playground is very large, encourage kids to stay within a few yards of each other. If your attention is diverted, for instance to tend to a child’s skinned knee, call the other child over to "help.”
  • To keep "busy" at the playground, choose activities that allow you to keep your eyes on your children, like returning cell phone calls or getting pictures of the kids at play.
  • Never assume that another adult is watching your children. This sometimes happens when two or more families go on outings together. Instead, think of yourself as an extra set of eyes for the other family’s kids and vice versa.
  • Never assume that your spouse is watching the children. Children have been lost more than once because each spouse thought that the other was watching. You and your spouse should watch the children as a team. If you have to leave for any reason, always tell that to your partner.
  • Public restrooms are a concern for parents, particularly if your child is a member of the opposite sex. Some parents may consider waiting outside while the child enters the restroom alone. Sadly, there have been numerous instances of unaccompanied children being assaulted in public restrooms. Even if a child’s eyes have to be covered on the way to a locked, closed stall, parents must accompany children right to the stall itself. Things like hand washing can be done elsewhere, but public bathrooms are no place for unaccompanied children.
  • Fairs, amusement parks and festivals also present challenges. Strollers are great in these situations, as are "hand holders," which are Velcro bracelets and elastic cords that link parents and children. Harnesses are another option.
  • Leaving the kids behind in the car while you "run into the store" for a second is not an option, even if you leave the air conditioner on, arm the car alarm and lock the doors. Cars are easy to break into, people ignore car alarms and it can take just seconds for someone to smash a window and grab your child.
  • Depending on its design and visibility from the street, your own backyard may not be safe to leave your children in unattended. You may watch from a comfortable chair while your children are playing in your yard or in the common area of your apartment complex.

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