Safety of Your Child
12 to 15 years old

Every home should teach children about safety and protection measures. As a parent, you should take an active interest in your children and listen to them. Teach your children that they can be assertive in order to protect themselves against exploitation. And most importantly, make your home a place of trust and support that fulfils your child’s needs. There are many experiences they will have where they will be unsure of how exactly they should respond. There may be situations where they feel a sense of threat, feel confused, feel pressurized to do something, and they don’t know enough to make a good decision. As they grow older, the number of opportunities they get to make decisions about their life will increase. Making a good decision would mean that it is safe – for them and for others. To be able to make good decisions, they need to have information. The more they know, the more power you give them to make ‘good’ decisions.

There will be times when children have to stay alone at home. Your child needs to know that they are responsible for themselves. They don’t need to be helpful to anyone who comes to the door; instead your child should do the following:

  • Never give out information about them or family to unknown people.  
  • Not to open the door to strangers or to people they don’t know well.
  • If the person is delivering something, have the package left outside the door. If the delivery boy needs a signature, tell him to come back later when a parent is at home.
  • Always keep the house door closed and locked to everyone, known and unknown people - neighbour, teacher, relatives etc.
  • Even if the person tells them that their mom and dad have sent them, they still should not open the door if you have not spoken to your child about it.
  • To inform you or a neighbour immediately after arriving home from school.

If there is a phone call they should:

  • Pick up the phone and say "hello" but never give their name.
  • Never give out any information about family.
  • Not say anything if it is a prank call or obscene call; they should just hang up.
  • Never tell callers that they are home alone, instead they should say mom/dad is busy and will call back.

Your child by the age of 12 starts moving alone, either going to school, to different classes or running errands. Precautions to teach and take:

  • Always know exactly where your child is going and tell them not to wander about or stroll.
  • Keep all the necessary information before they go for any party or outings, including addresses and phone numbers, who they are going with, and how they are going. Always give enough money so that they can come back alone if it is required. 
  • Discourage them from wearing head-phones while walking on the road or playing with their phone.
  • If they see someone doing something wrong on the road or there is a crowd gathered, not to go towards it; avoid it and walk towards their destination. Tell them that there are other adults on the road and they will do the needful if required.
  • Try and walk with schoolmates or friends whenever possible.
  • Obey all traffic lights and signals all the time; it is there to help people, not to cause inconvenience.
  • Do not get very friendly with strangers while travelling and do not pass on personal information.
  • Not to accept any food from or agree to take care of baggage of a stranger or to deliver anything for them.
  • Not to show off cash or high-end cell phones, or wear expensive, loose-fitting jewellery
  • To be alert at all times. Pay attention to their surroundings. Look confident and be aware of the environment around them.

If your child feels that they are being followed they should:

Stop at a place which is well lit and/or where there are other people around - the bookshop, supermarket etc. Let the person (who they feel is following) go ahead and then continue.

  • If possible, cross the street.
  • Walk with confidence; walk briskly.
  • Let you know immediately after the incident.  

Children at this age are able to use Internet independently, but it's still a good idea to supervise and monitor their Internet use. If your child is using internet:

  • Till the age of 13, the child should give your email id for any purpose. 
  • They should not open emails from unknown senders; delete them immediately. Such emails may be spam. Even worse, they could be ‘viruses’ which can be very harmful to your computer.
  • Obey all rules of registration. Your child should not have his/her own FB account till the age of 13 years. Always have your child as your ‘friend’ on social networking sites you so that you can monitor their internet activity.
  • They should not give out personal information, such as name, email, phone number, home address, school name, or parents’ work address/ telephone number to people whom they don’t know.
  • They should not exchange pictures with strangers through the Internet.
  • They should not give out information while filling forms to win free stuff.
  • They should report to you immediately if they receive any mail in text form or picture form which is indecent or obscene.
  • They should always keep password(s) a secret; share it only with parents.
  • To check with you before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt your computer or jeopardize your family’s privacy.
  • If your child has a ‘Whatsapp’ group through your phone, check the messages regularly.
  • Not to leave passwords entered in the password field on websites if using computers at some other place eg. Cyber cafe etc. It is easy for someone to go back and get passwords to accounts and e-mail addresses this way.

Abuse of children is a grim fact of our society. It is more common than most people realize. Parents need not feel helpless about the problem. The good news is that there are simple and effective ways of teaching children how to protect themselves that will work most of the time. Let them know that they should:

  • Say ‘NO’ to people who touch them inappropriately. Their body belongs to them and nobody can touch it without their permission.
  • Move away from the person; when they feel uncomfortable or scared about the way the person behaving with them (eg. showing indecent pictures, saying something indecent, showing their private body parts etc.)
  • Find a trusting adult like a parent or a teacher or a counsellor and speak about the incident.
  • Not to keep it a secret or keep quiet because they are scared of the person or because they know the person.
  • Not to stay alone if the person is around; always be around another family member or friend.

Children need to be alert in order to protect themselves from problems in all different situations and different places; that is called ‘staying safe’.  As parents, there are some responsibilities we have to observe:

  • Do not allow your child to drive 2-wheelers or cars before they are 18 years.
  • Do not give expensive gadgets or excessive money to your child.
  • Do not allow them to watch movies/TV programs that show adult content.
  • If someone complains about your child, do pay heed.
  • Do pay attention to what teachers have to say about your child and work with them.

Above all, teach children to obey and respect all rules wherever they are!