By Sergeant Mark Buschena
You are shopping with your child. You turn around, and your child is gone. What do you do? Losing your child can be a parent’s worst nightmare. And with stores and malls crowded with Christmas shoppers, it may be even more difficult to keep track of your children while shopping with them.
The preparation for keeping your children safe while shopping begins long before you get to the mall. Teach your children that if you are lost or separated, to STAY IN THE STORE! Don’t go out into the lot, or back to the car to wait for mom or dad. In the lot they are much too vulnerable to traffic and weather. Stay in the store.
Before you go shopping, decide with your children on a spot in the store t o meet if you get separated. Make it something easy, like the ice-cream counter. They should be able to remember that.
While we teach our children not to talk to people they don’t know, if they get lost they should know who to go to for help. Teach children that if they need help in a store, to find a person who works at the check-out (or in children’s terms “where you pay.”) You can also teach your children to look for someone wearing a nametag, or a uniform shirt, smock or vest (like the red or blue ones in some of the larger retail chains.) And dialing 9-1-1 is always an option, provided the child can find a telephone. (And remember, you don’t need a quarter to dial 9-1-1 from a payphone, the call is free.)
Parents can also help by making a mental note of what their children are wearing, not only when shopping, but everyday. In the event they are lost, clerks and police will better be able to know who to look for. Also very helpful is a current photo of the child.
If you loose a child while shopping, don’t panic. Alert a clerk to help you look. Some of the chain stores have policies to help find lost children, including making announcements, and watching exits. And if you have very young children, consider not taking them shopping. Young children will be more comfortable and your shopping will be more enjoyable if your children are at home with a competent sitter or adult.
To learn more, grab your copy of “The Naked Truth About Personal Protection” at www.defendyourselfnow.com