Child Safety: Things every parent should know

Young children are active learners when it comes to safety tactics <br><em>iStock Photo-Sheryl Griffin</em>
Young children are active learners when
it comes to safety tactics Griffin

Contrary to beliefs that locals work in casinos and live in hotels, Las Vegas is a community filled with families and children. Unfortunately, children can occasionally fall into harms way. Here are a few things that every parent should know.

Teach your children communication, contingency preparation, and consequence.
1. Communication
Some children that were victimized showed far too much respect for the authority of strangers. Teach your child their rights. They should know that they don’t have to go anywhere with anyone just because they’re an adult. This sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many children make this mistake. If a kid is in the arms of an adult and their screaming and flailing, most people will naturally assume that they’re throwing a tantrum. If the kid is screaming, “help!’ “Police!” or “you’re not my father!” that paints a different story. Teach them to communicate their situation to others that could witness or step in to help them in your absence.

2. Contingency Preparation
My co-worker conducts impromptu quizzes with his daughter. “You’re walking down the street and you see a guy sitting in a car alone…good guy or bad guy?” He has hundreds of scenarios. She ultimately learned that any stranger is a “bad guy” until proven otherwise. With the mental picture in her head, she’s likely to recognize a problem before it unfolds and exercise some life-saving options on her own. Choose a way to prepare children for contingencies. Let’s use a child lost in public as an example. A good initial plan would be to teach children what police officers, security guards, and firefighters look like and to approach them when lost. An ideal contingency plan would be to contact a woman with children when the child can’t find you or someone in uniform.

3. Consequences
When I was a child, the story of Adam Walsh scared children into remaining glued to their parents in public. We understood that getting lost in public could lead to terrible consequences. It was difficult to keep the horrible and highly publicized incident away from the eyes and ears of children back then. It may be too brutal and sad to willfully tell children, so find a way to make them understand that dangers await them if they constantly run off without you.

Rehearsals are fun. One of the few things I know about kids is that they like to pretend. In the Midwest, we (children) loved rehearsals. We performed fire drills and tornado drills pretending these disasters were really happening. Schools rarely rehearse the avoidance of violence, drugs, or other issues. You can’t control the activities of your child’s school, so perform rehearsals at home.

Jessica Eaves learned that she had a condition that can cause frequent fainting. After rehearsing a song, she named “911 green,” which taught her daughter Madelyn to dial 911 and press the green send button, Jessica received medical treatment multiple times when fainting with only Madelyn around. Another child, 4-year-old Alex Cody, may have saved his mother’s life by singing his address to a 911 dispatcher when his mother lost consciousness after falling down some stairs. The advantages of learning such vital decision-making at such young ages will positively affect Madelyn and Alex when they’re older.

Rehearse everything you can think of. Routes to and from school, contacting the authorities, what to do if there’s a prowler, what suspicious subjects look like, etc.

The rules of engagement. Boys and Girls Clubs are filled with children during peak crime hours, yet violence or other safety-compromising issues are rare. I wish I could say the same for schools.

During a conversation with Jim Richards, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, I realized this isn’t accidental. “Kids will perform to the level of expectation,” said Richards. He insisted that when an adult staff is firm, fair, consistent, and loving, children react positively.

Richards also told me about the “Smart Moves Program.” An acronym for Skills Mastery and Resistance Training, this prevention/education program addresses violence, drug and alcohol use, and premature sexual activity. Role-playing helps juveniles, ages 6 to 15, practice resistance, develop assertiveness, and strengthen their decision-making skills.

Children should know when and where to be extra cautious and who’s suspicious and who isn’t.

Child safety technology brings out lots of emotions <br><em>Photo by John Robert Taylor</em>
Child safety technology brings out lots of emotions
Photo by John Robert Taylor

Avoid the pitfalls of technology. Technology has many advantages but there are also pitfalls that should be avoided. There are GPS trackers, video and audio monitors, leashes, and many other gadgets. When speaking to parents about technology, there’s a very strong argument on both sides. I made the awful mistake of asking two parents about child leashes at the same time and created an intense argument…oops. Arguments for technology were regarding convenience. Other parents claim that technological advances are used to avoid attentive parenting. Either way, technology will become obsolete at some point. When a child is nine or ten, they still should know that they should stay close to you or in a group. If they have been leashed without the proper teachings and reinforcement, they may still run off. If utilized, technology should be a tool not a substitute.

Teaching kids to jaywalk in busy traffic is a horrible idea <br><em>Photo by John Robert Taylor</em>
Teaching kids to jaywalk in busy traffic is a horrible idea
Photo by John Robert Taylor

Don’t pass on bad safety habits. Look at the family in this photo. These parents can put themselves at risk but why do it with children. This photo was taken at 11pm on a Friday night. Sprinting across Las Vegas Boulevard is never a good idea but especially during that time of night. What’s the hurry?

One of the coolest things about kids is that they love safety when they’re young. Safety conscious parents claimed that demanding they exercise caution, gives their children a sense of responsibility they enjoy. When they get older, a sense of invincibility starts to set in so teach them while they’re young.


11 responses on “Child Safety: Things every parent should know

  1. I bet you caused a ruckus with the leash question — I’ve always wondered what side effects such devices have on children later in their lives. Good post once again.

  2. Wow, this touched a lot of nerve with me…as I’m sure it did with many other mothers. Great read.

    “My co-worker conducts impromptu quizzes with his daughter. “You’re walking down the street and you see a guy sitting in a car alone…good guy or bad guy?”

    Great advice. I’m going to try this with both my kids. I worry particularly about my daughter – she is much too friendly to strangers. Part of me appreciates this, part of me is scared to death!

    “When speaking to parents about technology, there’s a very strong argument on both sides. I made the awful mistake of asking two parents about child leashes at the same time and created an intense argument…oops.”

    I think we mothers need to stop having such strong opinions about each other’s skills and instead realize that we’re all in this together, and that we’re all doing what what we think is best. What works for one mom might not for another. (I guess this is my experience as a moderater on Parenting message boards talking)

    “If they have been leashed without the proper teachings and reinforcement, they may still run off. If utilized, technology should be a tool not a substitute.”


  3. Mark, That argument over the leash was a complete ambush. I had no idea it was such a hot topic. It was funny to me later but not when it happened. 🙂 I thought these two mothers were going to decide to “punch out” their frustrations.

    Tasha thanks for the comments! Child victimzations have always bothered me the most and I was trying to touch upon key issues and offer helpful tips even though I’m completely ignorant of the world of parenting.

    Thanks again.

  4. Hi John! My name is Lisa and I have been on every site I could find about safety and moving to Vegas.
    I have left many comments and all I haven’t gotten much info back? I have children from ages 2-18! And have a lot of concerns about the schools and safety out there?
    Although I go out there often and just WAS out there a matter a fact, all I know is, ” THE STRIP” !
    When I was there I had a lot of people tell me, Don’t move here if you have children…The schools are terrible….The “WILD” life which I won’t mention..Is getting worse etc….
    I don’t know if you have children but what I just read touched me I have little passwords etc..I use with my kids and I’m in MN, so no matter where you are I hope people teach that to their children!
    The ” leash” incident sorry lol made me think of Katt Williams, hehe… but yeah its crazy but understandable..
    So anyways If you can give me any information on if it’s a good move? What areas are good? schools? Anything?? That would be greatly appreciated 🙂 Thank you….

  5. Lisa, Here’s an article that we published in September, 2008 that addresses some of your concerns, and be sure to read the comments posted at the end of the article for more ideas.

    Several of the Living-Las-Vegas writers are either raising young children or have lived here for a couple of decades and have raised their families here. I would suggest you read some of Tasha Pittser’s articles (she has two young children) and Ellen Ross has adult children (born here and raised). Other writers like Holly McKinnis were born here and have a keen perspective about growing up here.

    The library system here rivals that of any major city in the country, the park system is incredible and there are over 2 million residents who call Las Vegas home and raise families and work locally.


  6. Thank you so much for the reply Mark I appreciate it!
    I did read a few of Tasha’s stories but still not enough info to know if I would be making the right move.
    I will continue to search and hopefully find the answers I’m looking for?
    I Just don’t want to make such a big move without doing some research?! 🙂

    Thanks again…..

  7. Contact those writers direct and ask them questions — this is a public forum and it’s unlikely you’ll get anyone to recommend specific neighborhoods in this setting unless it’s within the context of one of their articles.


  8. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for commenting! Here’s a few responses.

    I don’t have any children however child victims I have encountered at work inspired this post. Lets address a couple of myths. Las Vegas is perfectly fine for children. In any metropolitan area there are places where the presence of children would be inappropriate or dangerous. Unfortunately Las Vegas is famous for such places.

    Outside the strip is a thriving community full of families and many areas, businesses, and places that cater to them. Mark is absolutely right. The library system is terrific. It succeeds in its objective of encouraging a lifetime of learning by catering to individuals from toddler ages up to the ages of senior citizens. The parks a great too and so are the shopping venues. One of the coolest things about Vegas is that all of those places can’t just be functional and visitor-friendly. They also have to be lavish spectacles. That’s a Las Vegas tradition. The libraries here are more than buildings with books. They’re architectural landmarks!

    About schools, if you can afford it you may want to think about private schools. I don’t know the status of the Clark County School district, but based on my personal experiences I favor private schools. My mother pulled me out of public school when I was growing up in Chicago and placed me into a private high school. It undoubtedly changed the course of my life for the better. But I’m sure there are some great public schools here in town. So you will need to do some research.

    About crime, some areas are more “statistically” safe than others. To get more facts find two or three areas in which you want to consider and visit http://WWW.LVMPD.COM. From there you can find information to contact the Crime Prevention Analyst in those areas. They will be able to assist you with prevention tactics and they may have up to date statistics. Another great resource is http://WWW.FAMILYWATCHDOG.US. On this site you can enter an address and obtain a list of sex offenders that live in the surrounding area.

    No neighborhood is completely safe and no school is perfect but some are better than others. If there are any other questions or concerns feel free to send me an email. Thanks for reading my post and once again for the comments.

    – John

  9. Hi John,

    I was hoping you could spread the word. Over the years I’ve noted a few missing children around this time of year.

    October is one of the nicest months of the year in Las Vegas, weatherwise. It is also a dangerous month for children and pets. Creeps like to use Halloween as an excuse to be creeps. Therefore, please read and enjoy the Halloween tradition of reading “The Halloweener” as a reminder to be safe:

    Take care,


  10. Hi Anthony,

    That’s a great poem. Thanks for commenting. I believe you’re right about Halloween, violent criminals have been know to use it to their advantage. Something else to consider is that some schools (especially those in the east and the mid west) fully implement extracurricular programs around the time that fall begins. So instead of going home in the early afternoon, many children are going home at dusk or in darkness which of course provides more concealment for would be predators.

    Thanks again,


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