How to Keep Your Child Safe in a Public Place
This post mainly concerns child safety. I work in a public attraction where lots of families come to visit. My job consists of making sure everyone that walks into that building is safe and secure. Hundreds, some days even thousands of people of all ages come through. I, and my fellow security officers, keep all of them as safe as we can.
Because of the nature of the venue where I work, on a daily basis I see children that become separated from their parents. Most of the time, it just happens. As a parent myself, I know that sometimes you turn your head for just a second and the child darts away. I get that. But what I don’t get, and see quite often, is the parent with their head buried in their phone and something catches the child’s eye and they wander away without the parent noticing for a while. I know that as an adult, children’s toys and games are not that stimulating, but please pay attention to where your kiddo is at all times! I raised my kids in the pre-smart phone era, and I survived playing dolls or trucks with them. Sometimes when the child realizes that they don’t know where Mommy or Daddy is they become very scared and emotional. That can be very traumatizing for them. I have seen many children sobbing because they don’t know where their parent is. Then sometimes the child, if they are old enough, realizes that their parent told them not to wander away. Now they think they are going to get in trouble and are even more scared and emotional. Let me tell you, it is not easy to get an answer out of a child that is bawling their eyes out! (Been there, done that, many times!)
Another thing I see when a child has become separated from their adult is that sometimes the adult does not give a very good description of the child. The better the description, the easier it is to find the little ones. This can happen for any number of reasons: the parent is stressed because their child is missing, the child could be a friend of your child’s, but is very easily remedied. Take a good picture of all the children in the group as soon as you get to where you will be. I can’t stress the word GOOD enough. I once had a father who had no clue what his son was wearing and the only picture he had of him was from behind, about ten feet away. With a good picture of the child and what they are wearing, security or any staff member can contact as many employees as they can to help find the child. We use a radio system to alert all of the security staff as well as all of the other employees out in the public areas that a child has become separated from their group.
Another idea is to dress all the kids in the same color. This doesn’t have to be identically matching outfits, but everyone could be wearing blue shirts. The only drawback to this method is if the child becomes separated from the group and the only description you can give is that they are wearing a blue shirt, you could be describing 10 or more kids in the same age range with a blue shirt. Be as detailed as possible. That is why a good picture is such a great idea. Many venues will have something that is popular near the front where you enter. We have a very popular attraction right at the front where many people stop and take pictures. That is a great idea not only because it is a great photo op, but you are also making a digital description of the child. I have found children many times from pictures on their parent’s phone.
Lastly, to round out my child safety in a public place, please, please, please (did I say please??) do NOT tell children of any age that security will kick them out if they misbehave! We will not! It makes our jobs harder if children are afraid of us. We are there to help them, not to discipline them. That is YOUR job, not mine. (I put in my dues six times over) I can lend a helping hand and explain why we have certain safety policies in place, but I am not the bad gal lurking around waiting for kids to misbehave so I can kick them out. This goes for any of the employees that work in public venues. If an employee asks you to not let your child do something, it is for the child’s safety. We are not trying to be mean and not let the children have fun, we are trying to keep them safe, happy, and healthy. Part of my job is to respond to medical issues. If the child has been told that I will kick them out if they misbehave, they are sometimes frightened, in addition to being hurt, when they see me coming to help them. A great deal of the time the medical issues I respond to are because children have been running (which is not allowed) and tripped or climbing (which isn’t allowed either) and fallen. It’s a good idea to tell children if you see a security officer that they are there to help them if they get lost or hurt. I’ve even had parents come up to me or point me out to their children as someone to go to for help. This makes what could be a bad situation a little bit easier. Feel free to come up to us security officers and show your children what we are wearing and explain to them that we are there to help. We are generally wearing all black. (It really isn’t as slimming as you might think!)
See? A lot of common sense!
Pay attention to your kids.
If you have to have your nose in your phone, make sure it is because you are taking good pictures.
And last, but not least, do not scare your children into behaving by making us the bad guys/gals.