- Have adequate supervision. Small children should never be left alone at any time during trick-or-treating, including when going door-to-door and when approaching a home. They should always be accompanied by an adult. If older children are allowed to go without an adult, they should always stay with a group of friends and follow a prearranged route, preferably in your own neighborhood. They should also be required to arrive back at home at a time certain.
- Beware of strangers. Where children are, there you will find child predators. Particularly during Halloween, tell the children to never respond to the call of a stranger, never go into a strange home and, of course, never go anywhere with a strange adult.
- Establish “street safety” rules. Even if mom or dad is with the children, it is difficult to control every move they make. Before going out, set some firm rules for behavior on the neighborhood streets, such as looking both ways when crossing the street, never hide behind or between parked vehicles, cross only at street corners, stay on sidewalks, and wear some reflective clothing.
- Make your own home safe. Children may be trick-or-treating at your home on Halloween, so help keep them safe as well. Remove from your lawn or sidewalk objects that could cause children to slip, trip or fall. Also, make sure the area is well lighted. If you have pets, keep them restrained and away from trick-or-treaters.
- Wait until you get home! Have your children wait until trick-or-treating is over and you are back at home before they start consuming their loot. Mom and Dad need to inspect the items to ensure proper wrapping, packaging and the overall propriety of the treats. Insider tip: A big meal before trick-or-treat will curb the appetite for those sugar-filled treats when they get home, at bedtime.
- Emergency identification. Secure to your children’s clothing emergency contact information such as your name, address and telephone number. Ensure the children know their address and phone number. While you’re at it, it is a good idea to provide the older children with a cellular phone and instructions on how to use 911 or local emergency numbers.
- Report suspicious activity. At the first sign of anything out of the ordinary, contact law enforcement. Suspicious persons, vandalism, violent acts, whatever it may be, report it. The health and safety of your child and many others depends on you.
Alan Hammond is a law enforcement official, freelance writer and former educator. Shonna Hammond is a master teacher, writer and consultant. The
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