In today’s society things tend to be either perfectly fine or they go sideways all of a sudden. You should make sure to teach your young children these 5 urban survival skills for children . This basic set of skills help to ensure they can remain safe. By making sure you teach them these five skills you can help to ensure they are able to safely return home if something was to go wrong. At the bottom of the article is a few links to tracking watches that will help you keep tabs on your child’s whereabouts at all times.
Basic Knowledge – Numbers, Addresses, Family Member Names
The first of the urban survival skills for children is to teach them basic contact information. This may seem like a no brainer but I have run across so many people who do not know their basic information.
For instance, how many phone numbers can you remember without consulting your phone. Now imagine that your phone falls and breaks, gets wet or in the case of a child they run the battery dead playing games. How are they going to contact you. If they do not know your number then they will be unable to even have someone else call you.
I know this seems like common sense, but you have no idea how many teenagers I have ran into who do not know their mom’s number. They automatically assume they have their phone so they do not need to memorize any numbers. Please make sure your kid knows at least three family member numbers.
Address is another one of these basic pieces of information that are critical for them to know. In several instances, during my time as a police officer the only way we were able to reach family members was to send an officer to the residence. Make sure your child knows the address and if it changes verify that they know what the new address is.
The last one in this section may seem silly. However, I have asked smaller children several times what their parents name is and they simply advise Mommy or Daddy. In some instances they may be able to advise the first name but that is largely dependent on the situation.
I strongly urge that you teach your child their full name, and the full name of both parents. This becomes even more important in cases where the parents may have different last names than each other or the child. Officers have a large number of resources available to help track down people, however a good portion of that revolves around names.
The Importance of Crowds & Which Crowds to Avoid
The importance of crowds is one of the important urban survival skills for children. Explain to them that the more people there are the less likelihood of a criminal act occurring in most cases. Also discuss the difference in being on the fringe or edge of this crowd versus in the middle of everyone. Also discuss when they want to be seen versus avoiding contact.
Due to their size children have an innate ability to be unseen by most people if they choose. If your child finds themselves separated or alone for whatever reason. They should seek out a crowded area and make their way to the middle of that area unless you have other pre arrangements. They should then seek out some form of employee and ask them to call either the police or yourself since they now have that phone number memorized.
It is extremely important that they know they are to remain in that populated area. They should not allow the employee or anyone else to convince them to go into the “Office” or other location separated from the public.
It is also important that they understand crowds that may be dangerous. With recent incidents in the news and large numbers of protests around the country this becomes increasingly important. Obviously if they make their way into a large group of protesters then the likelihood of receiving police assistance is decreased.
Point out that they should avoid large yelling crowds, crowds with large numbers of intoxicated people or groups of people that may appear to be fighting. In these instances they would be better served to seek help in a busy grocery store or even a busy gas station.
First Responders Including Police, Paramedics, Fire Fighters Are Friends
Regardless of your opinions based on the police let’s face the facts here. Our greatest concern in this instance is the safety of our children. Despite what recent news has displayed or personal opinions I have been unable to find any articles where police officers have maliciously targeted children. This is true no matter what race we are talking about.
However, recent politics and news articles and public comments have left some children with doubts in this area. It is important that we move away from the philosophy of telling our children that the police are going to lock them up if they’re bad.
We need to reassure our children that if they need help they should seek out officers. In 90% of cases, the officers are wearing body cameras anyway and this increases the safety of both our children and the officers.
The same holds true for paramedics and firefighters. In many instances smaller children may not recognize the difference between the three and should be encouraged to seek assistance from them if they need it.
Do not allow the media to put your child at risk by convincing you to ignore this one of the urban survival skills for children.
Plans In Case They End Up Alone or Separated While On Family Outings
Another very important step that many families forget to do is to make a plan in case they get separated. ALot of times when families go on trips they go out as a large group but then without fail they end up separating.
This can be from a simple task such as going to the bathroom and becomes a greater risk at locations where the bathrooms are not side by side.
Always agree on a meeting place when you first arrive. Keep in mind though it is difficult for some adults to find their way back to the entrance in certain locations such as large theme parks. Agree on new locations anytime you might be separating.
This is a tip that even adults can use. How many times have you come back out of a restroom or after grabbing a snack to discover the other members of your party have wandered off. Keep in mind cell phones could get lost, die or get left behind in lockers to prevent damage.
Last A Safe Word – Do Not Forget This Step
While the risk of kidnappings by a stranger is relatively low according to the FBI with there only being between 300 and 400 cases of stranger kidnappings per year I feel this is still enough to warrant this extra step.
In my opinion a safe word is probably the second most important of the urban survival skills for children. In 2003 a study indicated the following stats in reference to kidnappings. Between the three main type of kidnappings 49% are committed by family members, 27% by family acquaintances and 24% of the time the kidnapper is a stranger.
Keep in mind the majority of missing persons reports, estimated to be around 95%, are actually runaways or juveniles who did not follow instructions to be home at a specific time.
In 2016 the Department of Justice indicated that 75% of kidnappings were committed by family members or friends. This indicates that those numbers have not changed very much over the past two decades.
Most often these kidnappings by family members are the results of custody disputes and similar situations. However, there are a few instances where there is an intent for sexual molestation or other criminal reasons.
Come Up With a Safeword Only You and Your Child Know
One way that you can minimize this chance is to create a safe word with your child. In an instance where plans change and you have to have someone else pick up your child, they can provide the safe word to the child. This will allow the juvenile to know that you did in fact request that person to pick them up.
Make sure that if you are using this technique that you only use this when changing plans. If it happens frequently you should change the safe word. Make sure your child understands that if the safe word is not provided they are to remain where they are until they can contact you via phone. This will do two things. It puts the friend on notice that you are concerned about your child. Second it allows you to know exactly who your child is with if something is to happen.
If you choose not to add the secret word into your life then how about a compromise. Anytime your plans change and someone else picks up your child have them snap a picture. They can text it to you along with who they are going with. This way you still have that information. Just make sure they know to do it before getting in the vehicle with the other person.
Some New Technology Options That Help Track Your Children
Obviously if you have made it this far down the page you do have some concerns for your child’s safety. These urban survival skills for children alone are not enough to keep your child safe. Perhaps you would feel better if you had a way to contact your child or know their whereabouts at all times.
Recent advances in smart watch technology and GPS devices have given you some more options. These extend beyond just using a smart phone to track your child.
Without getting into the debate on whether or not you should give your child a phone and what age let’s look at some considerations.
Most small children and up through teenagers will use their phones for every purpose under the sun except for what you want it for. You are getting it so you can keep tabs on them and they can call you if need be.
They however, see it as a way to play games, text their friends and generally pass the time. This could lead to a dead battery when it is actually needed for its intended purpose.
This is why you would be better off selecting a device that can only perform the intended function. I have scoured Amazon and found several smart watch style devices that have the following features.
Desired Features in a Child’s Smartwatch
- Ability to make phone calls – most of these can be added to an already existing phone line for around $10 a month. Some are slightly more or less.
- Ability to be tracked – this is a way for you to view the gps location of the device on a map
- Geofencing – This is a newer technology but probably one of my favorites. Geofencing allows you to set up a designated area that your child is allowed to be. If they leave that location you are automatically notified. This would alert you if your child was leaving the area they were supposed to be in.
- Ease of Use – These types of devices are meant for children or adults with beginning dementia. They need to be easy to use with very few complications.
- Durability – Obviously since kids are going to be wearing them, they need to be durable. It would do no good if they were damaged by being exposed to water or smacked against a piece of playground equipment.
Based on those features as a guide I found three watches that would be great for kids.
The Coolpad Dyno
The first of these is the Coolpad Dyno. The Coolpad Dyno comes with a built in sim card that you pay for through the app. The companion app is installed on your cell phone. This app allows you to control geofencing and unlimited two way calls with your child. Battery life on this device is great lasting up to 2.5 days depending on the settings.
The main downside in my opinion on this is the design looks somewhat childish. However, if you are purchasing it for a child around five to ten years old the design is appropriate for that age group and would not be an issue.
The Laxcido Realtime
The Laxcido Realtime is the second choice. This watch sports a slightly more appealing design scheme for children that are a bit older. It also features geofencing and a long battery life. The battery is estimated to last 18 to 20 hours if tracking every minute. But 25 to 30 hours can be achieved by tracking every ten minutes. A major advantage of this design is the app allows you to track multiple watches. This is useful if you have more than one child.
There seem to have been a few complaints about durability issues though it seems customer service was able to resolve these issues in a timely manner.
The TickTalk 3
The Ticktalk 3 is the last one I will discuss here. The Ticktalk 3 is the only one of these watches that have 4g capabilities. They come unlocked and will work on most US carriers with the exception of Verizon which uses a CDMA network. If you add this to AT&T it will bill you as a true smart phone and cost an additional 35 per month. However, the company will send you a Red Pocket Sim for free if you request it. This allows you to activate the watch on the T-Mobile network for $10 a month.
This watch does not have a ton of features. It can be tracked via GPS, has phone capabilities and a long lasting battery life. The software does not allow geofencing with this watch. Though, it does seem to be much more durable than the second option.
The primary concern here is the battery life. The tech specs indicate that the battery should last for 24 hours. However, many users have complained that they are only getting around ten hours if you are actively tracking it. There were also some complaints about the charging system being a joke. Quite a few recent comments indicate that the manufacturer pushed out an update and some of the battery issues are resolved. I cannot confirm this though.
In Conclusion – Urban Skills For Your Young Child
After teaching your young child these five urban survival skills for children you can have at least some peace of mind. You will know that your child has basic skills to make sure they come home safely. Remember to teach them how to react to strangers as well. But keep in mind everyone they meet will be a stranger at first. So this needs to be tempered with more focus towards inappropriate activities. These include things such as trying to get them alone or inappropriate touching.
It is the goal for every parent to keep their child safe. While we cannot guarantee that hopefully these simple tips can help.
While you are here make sure to check out Why You Should Become a Prepper. You will see how being prepared can increase not only your child safety but your entire families in a disaster situation.