Each day, millions of kids come home to an empty house after school. A recent U.S. Census Bureau report indicated that 7 million of the nation’s 38 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are left home alone on a regular basis. What’s scary about this statistic is that nearly 2 million home burglaries are reported in the United States each year. Unfortunately, many home break-ins occur at times when children are home without an adult.
Although we don’t want to think about our homes being broken into, it is important for us to have frank discussions with our children about the possibility of a break-in occurring. The safety and security experts at The Force Training Institute have created the following tips that parents can use to teach their children how to respond if a break-in occurs when they are home alone.
Role Play and Discuss
One of the most important things parents can do to prepare a child to learn the proper way to respond to a break-in is to practice. Just like schools have fire and other emergency drills, households should do the same. Parents should talk to their children about the proper way to respond to a break-in, and then conduct a scenario with the child while providing direction and support. The scenario does not need to be frightening as it is meant to build the child’s confidence and decision-making.
The first thing children should be taught about a home break-in is to move the opposite direction of an intruder. Instruct your child to quickly and quietly move somewhere in house where they feel safe.
Grab a Mode of Communication
Whether it is a portable home phone, a cell phone, or a tablet, kids should also be concentrating on grabbing a means of communication to call for help as they are getting away from the intruder and moving to another part of the home.
Once they have moved away from the location the break-in occurred, children should find a secure place to barricade themselves into. This could be a bedroom, bathroom or closet. Any room that has only one door that can be locked and barricaded with a chair or other piece of furniture is suitable.
Try to be Invisible
Hiding under a bed, inside a coat in the back of a closet, in a dirty laundry hamper, or under blankets and pillows on a messy bed are all good options for camouflage. Teach kids to be as small, hidden and quiet as possible.
Call for Help
If possible during the break-in situation, teach children to first send a text message for help to parents, family members or a trusted neighbor or family friend asking for help and for the person to call 911 to come to your home. Make sure your child knows to turn the volume off on a phone or tablet so device noises do not give away a hiding place. If it is not possible to send a text for help, teach kids to call 911 and whisper they need help, tell the operator a break-in is happening, they are home alone, and their address.
Use Basic Self-Defense
In the event an intruder tries to physically harm a child during a break-in, parents should prepare their children to know basic self-defense skills that could save their lives. If an intruder is trying to cause harm or kidnap a child, he or she should know to scream as loud as possible, try to hit the intruder in the groin, eyes or nose, to not be afraid to bite, and to never stop moving, kicking and squirming to try and get away.
Preparing your child to deal with a break-in may save his or her life. An intruder may steal your household items, but your child is more valuable than any physical possession.