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Teach Your Child to How to Use a Family Code

Children depend on us to keep them safe. It is not always possible to predict the unpredictable, but it is possible to be prepared.

Not everyone in the world is kind and good. Youngsters need to know this. Telling them in a way that does not cause fear is important. Your goal should be to prepare and empower your child for the unlikely event of an attempted abduction. Creating and using a family code can do this.


Most preschoolers are wary of strangers and prefer to stay close to Mom and Dad. Teaching them to stay next to you at all times when out and about can prevent an opportunistic attack.

Some children, however, love to run from parents when out. They must be corrected promptly and brought back to your side. You may need to use a tether to keep them from running into a crowd and out of your control.

Preschoolers may not understand the meaning of a family code. But your child needs to know they must stay with you or whoever is supervising them. Let them know that not all people are safe and they should not speak to or go with any stranger-ever, no matter what they say or offer.

Main points to address:

  • Protect your child when out of your home by keeping them next to you. Carry them if necessary or use a tether.
  • Let them know not everyone is safe.
  • Teach them not to talk to or go with any stranger – ever.

Grades K-6th

Prepare your family to use a family code by teaching them more fully about the possibility of abduction. Explain that not all strangers are bad, in fact most are good, but there is no way to be sure. Let them know it is not likely they will ever need to use the family code. Being safe means being ready “just in case E

Parents should agree on a phrase or word that will indicate a safe person to your child. Making it something your child can recall is important. Decide who, outside of your immediate family, will have the code. Let your child know who that is.

Practice using the code this way. Tell your child if they are ever approached by a stranger who claims Mom or Dad sent them to pick them up, to stand at a distance and ask for the code. If the person does not immediately produce the code they are to run to the nearest store clerk or mother they can find.

Have them practice saying, “No! You’re not my mother and then “No, you’re not my father. Teach them to turn quickly and run screaming.

After practicing at home, try a trial run at a park or other public place, minus the screaming. Praise them for asking for the code and running fast.

Older children who visit friends and are sometimes at activities without you need to know that if the worst happens they will be ready. Require them to inform you of any change in their whereabouts- every time.

All school age children should know their address including postal code, phone number, and parents complete names. In the case of abduction they may have a chance to call for help.

Being prepared is empowering. Knowing that they will probably never have to use the family code will be a comfort to them. But if they ever need to use it, they’ll be ready.

Main points to address:

  • Being safe means being aware and prepared.
  • Agree on a code that your child can recall.
  • Practicing and role playing using the code will empower your child.
  • All school age children need to know their complete address, phone number and parents Efull names.


Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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