Ways to Keep Kids Safe: Learning from Tragedy

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Like most people in my community, I was devastated when a beautiful young girl from a neighboring town went missing last month. Hundreds of people turned out to search far and wide for Riley Crossman. Searches came to an abrupt halt when cadaver dogs led police to her body. As most parents do, I often ponder ways to keep kids safe, especially my own children.

Riley Crossman’s death was the fourth murder in our tri-state area in the past two years. At least, it was the fourth killing that made local news headlines. The boyfriend of Riley’s mother is facing charges for her brutal death. The case made national news. Tens of thousands of people are now closely following investigation updates. My heart breaks for Riley’s family and the many children, teachers and others in our community who knew her. The parent in me thinks we can learn from this tragedy as we mourn for Riley and do our best to honor her memory.

Don’t overlook the simplest ways to keep kids safe

The ideas included in the following list have come to my mind as I continue to read and follow news updates regarding the Crossman case:

  • If your child lives with you, make sure you see or speak with him or her every day. Especially if you work outside the home, do not assume that your child is safe if you haven’t seen or spoken to him or her since you left for work.
  • Always follow up on a child’s reports that a particular person makes him or her uncomfortable. Never disregard statements that someone has abused your son or daughter or that an adult makes him or her feel frightened.
  • Single mothers, in particular, must focus on ways to keep kids safe, especially if they enter new romantic relationships. Extreme caution should be practiced when bringing someone new into a child’s life.
  • Just because a child is capable of doing something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to allow him or her to do it. For instance, nowadays, it is often unsafe to travel on foot, alone.
  • Do not be afraid to reach out for support if you are having family problems.
  • Also do not hesitate to get help if you yourself are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction.
  • As parents, ways to keep kids safe must always include placing children’s needs ahead of our own.

Kids today typically have a lot more unsupervised time on their hands than generations of youth did in the past. In fact, it’s not uncommon nowadays for kids to spend hours at home by themselves or with siblings. If your child must be home alone for a portion of the day, make sure you have a solid safety plan.

Choose appropriate child care

Whether you have young children or teenagers, choose babysitters carefully. Single parents who are dating do not have to allow their significant others to watch their kids. In fact, it’s often a bad idea, especially if the partner is male and the child at home is a teenage daughter. As you ponder ways to keep kids safe, don’t ignore facts. News headlines often entitle stories about boyfriends of single mothers who sexually or physically abuse their children.

It’s better to err on the side of safety and not create even the remotest possibility for such crimes to occur. The hands of time can never turn back. Precious lives lost, such as Riley Crossman’s, are irreplaceable. We can’t undo tragedy but we can make changes to help prevent similar crimes from occurring in the future. Ways to keep kids safe always begin at home.

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