Parents have many worries while raising and supporting their children. Health concerns, will my child have friends, who are they dating, and on and on. All of these are real and valid concerns. Recent studies have shown however, that the top concerns particularly around back to school time are bullying/cyberbullying and school violence. While we can't always be there and protect our kids, there are steps that you can take.
- Teach your kids to tell an trusted adult. If they are being bullied, reach out to a favorite teacher as well as you. Let them know what is going on so that they can help.
- Have a parent control app for your child's smart device. It is NOT being nosey, it is protecting your child. Qustodio is a great app that will let you know about your child's texting, app downloads, location, and more. Well worth it.
- Have a full internet safety package for all of your laptops, tablets, and more. BullGuard protection can protect your entire family for a very reasonable cost.
- Think about a bullet proof backback insert. They are lightweight and most such as BulletSafe's are verified NIJ level IIIA standards.
While none of us can fully protect our children from all threats, a little planning and a few tools can help.
As summer is in full swing, soon parents will start to think about back to school shopping. Clothes, pencils, paper, laptops, all those things that kids want to avoid for just a little longer.
Then there are those things that parents, grandparents, none of us want to think about ever. School shootings, cyber-bullying, etc. I don't want to think about it, but I have to. I need to help in what way I can to protect what and who is important to me.
Some links to think about:
BulletSafe backpack insert.
Qustodio Mobile App
We may not want to, but it is important!
Physical safety is one thing, but you also have to be concerned with safety online, in the wild, wild world of the internet. Here are a few tips:
- Have an up to date anti-virus package for your computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets, all of your digital devices. Most of these now offer reasonably priced plans to cover multiple devices with a single family plan with automated updates to catch the latest viruses and malware.
- Make use of VPN software. If you ever use public wifi, you are putting yourself at risk. These open internet connections are a favorite of online thieves and predators as it is very easy to capture your session. Many of the anti-virus programs either come with, or you can add-on VPN protection for your connections. This will encrupt your traffic giving you another layer of security.
- Change your password. Whether it is your wireless router at home, your bank account, or your device login, change your password every so often and NEVER use the default password that comes with your device.
- Know what your kids are doing. My apologies to many out there that may disagree, but honestly when it comes to protecting children I don't care if I upset a few. Be nosey! Ask what they are doing online, who they are chatting with, what websites they are visiting. Consider installing and using parental control software for all of their devices, and make sure it has a GPS tracking option for their phones. Online predators are sneaky and are known to lure kids away for kidnapping and worse. Know where they are and who they are talking to!
Safety should not be an overwhelming worry. Just adding a few habits into your daily routine can increase your safety and well-being without constant thought. Here are a few tips for your home.
- Make sure the area around your home is well-lit. Use timers and motion sensors to turn lights on and off. Thieves want to hide, take that away from them and they will move on.
- Use timers for lights inside as well. Particularly if you are going to be away on vacation or a business trip and the house will be unoccupied. Light timers will give the appearance that someone is home.
- Never open the door to a stranger. Talk through the door or better yet a doorbell camera/voice system. A common trick is to ask to use your phone for help, point them in the direction of the nearest gas station or convenience shop. Of course, if it obvious that someone really needs help, help them. You would want the same, just have your phone in your hand and ready.
- Keep bushes and trees trimmed back. If thieves can hide behind shrubbery while breaking into a window you are providing them the cover they need.
- Make it a practice to lock doors and windows whether you are home or not.
- Install cameras with video recorders inside and out. There are several good doorbell camera systems that allow you to talk through the camera using an app on your cell phone.
- Have your phone, pepper spray and/or stun gun beside you when you go to bed.
- Close inside doors when you go to bed. Not only does it make it harder for burglars to know what is behind the closed door, it is also a fire-safety tip to reduce the spread of fire and smoke.
Below are some links to general safety information resources that are available on the web:
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Below is some general information on where stun guns, pepper spray, and certain types of knives are restricted. As always, be sure you know for sure what is legal and what is not in the area that you live. Ultimately, you are responsible for the type of self defense products that you carry.
STATES WHERE STUN GUNS ARE RESTRICTED:
CITIES WHERE STUN GUNS ARE RESTRICTED:
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY including ANNAPOLIS, MD
BALTIMORE CITY, MD
BALTIMORE COUNTY, MD
DENSION / CRAWFORD COUNTY, IA
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
HARFORD COUNTY, MD
HOWARD COUNTY, MD
PEPPER SPRAY RESTRICTIONS:
California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington
Butterfly KnivesCalifornia, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
The first step in self defense is simply being aware.
Know your surroundings. Whether in a parking lot, an open park, or in the middle of a crowd in a mall you need to be aware of what is around you and more importantly WHO is around you. Studies have shown that walking while talking on a cell phone limits your peripheral vision as well as takes away your attention, and one hand that you could use to defend yourself. Texting is even worse as it requires even more of your attention on your phone, leaving you with less ability to know what is happening right next to you.
What are your escape routes? Should the worst happen, can you get away? Where? If you are alone, try and get to where other people are. Shout, yell, get someones attention that you need help. The more people that are focused on you, the less likely a mugger or robber is going to stick around.
What is around you? Should someone try and grab you, they have lost all thought of "being nice". Hopefully you have a stun gun or pepper spray. Use it! They want to hurt you, so hurt them! If not, anything can help. A pencil can be enough to jab them and let you have that second or two you need to run. Take advantage of it.
Call 9-1-1. Once have been able to escape, but quickly, call the police. If you have used your stun gun or pepper spray to be able to escape, let the dispatcher know when you call them. Describe the assailant with as much detail as you can, but don't hang around. Do it from a safe distance, but call!