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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween Safety for Your Family

The following is a guest post from Erik Braunitzer, a member of the creative writing and communications department at Douglas Elliman Real Estate Company. He serves as chief editor of an experienced team of writers who touch upon topic matters concerning family living, home improvement, design, real estate and more. The following has been vetted by multiple researchers and writers, and catered specifically to readers interested in the safety of their child or children.

Halloween Safety for Your Family
 Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Company, Agents for New York City Real Estate.

The festivities that come with Halloween are very exciting for adults and children alike. Whether you’re attending a haunted house or trick or treating, you should be wary of the dangers. With a little bit of planning and a few important safety rules, Halloween can be both harmless and enjoyable.

Trick-or-treating after dark makes it spookier and more fun, but children running around in the dark can be hard to see, and parents need to make sure that their children are visible to drivers. This can be done in fun and creative ways that enhance, not detract, from the child's costume. Many stores sell Halloween themed flashlights that are perfect to take along while trick-or-treating. Kids love flashlights, and one with ghosts or pumpkins on it can become a fun addition to the evening. Reflectors in Halloween shapes to be worn around the neck are another great idea, and look terrific with any costume. Lastly, most stores sell glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets that come in a variety of bright colors. They are fun to wear, and they make the child highly visible. Remember, vehicles are amongst some of the greatest threats on Halloween night, but they also present opportunities for safety. If the weather is cold, or your neighborhood already doesn’t meet safety standards, then it may be smarter to utilize your car for trick or treating. Just be wary of others!

Although not your first option, another great and innovative preventative safety recommendation would be an electronic child tracker. Digital Wireless Trackers aren’t very affordable, but they’re certainly practical. The way it works is simple – Your child gets a watch that beeps once he/she goes out of range (anywhere between 16 and 60 feet depending on your setting). Supplementary to that, your wireless indicator will point in the direction of your child and blinks faster as you get closer. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, these locators can also be used as GPS devices that are valuable for a lost child (worst case scenario).

Technology is great, and usually won’t fail you, but parent involvement is the one, sure way to keep children safe on Halloween night. A responsible adult should accompany all children, and very small children need to have the adult walk them up to the door. Older children can be allowed to walk and trick-or-treat a few houses ahead, but should always be within eyesight of an adult.

All candy needs to be inspected by the parent once the child gets home. Any candy that looks suspicious or has open wrappers should be thrown away immediately, as should any treats that are homemade. This can be done in a way that is not upsetting to the child. One fun way is for the parent to help the child sort the candy into similar piles while subtly looking for unsafe treats. This way, the child can enjoy his or her candy, and the parent can ensure the child's safety.

The whole idea of Halloween is to have fun, to enjoy time together with family and friends. A few common sense safety rules can ensure that Halloween night is a special and memorable time for the whole family.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Tragic Case of Child Abuse

“What is done to children, they will do to society.”  (Karl A. Menninger)

It is tragic that some children suffer abuse in silence either because they cannot tell or are afraid to tell anyone what is happening to them. It is unfortunate that some people who suspect that a child is being abused, neglect to do anything about it because they either don’t want to get involved or they feel it is none of their business.

God bless the neighbors who did report a suspected case of a tragically abused and neglected child in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The neighbors, who had been suspicious of the abused child’s parents to begin with, heard the cries of the child and called authorities.

When police arrived on the scene they discovered a diaper-wearing, terrified 7-year-old boy in a bug-ridden basement of a condemned Pennsylvania home. He said that he was often put in the basement as punishment and was told that ghosts lived down there. The boy told police he was forced to sleep in a coffin in the basement. He also told police that he was frequently duct-taped to a chair in the home. "Are you here to help me?" he asked police who entered the Scranton home on September 26. Authorities are searching for the couple who live at the boy's address after he was found terrified and alone in the dark last week.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Anyone who suspects a child of being abused or neglected should report such suspicions to authorities. To neglect doing so is in effect what is called bystander syndrome – a tendency to stand by and allow harm to an individual without doing anything to intervene. For more information on bystander syndrome read my Suite 101 article, “Bystander Syndrome: Good Samaritan Ignored & Dies in N.Y.C.” at