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Keeping Our Children Safe

Last week my children came home with a letter from the principal notifying parents/guardian with children in Huntington Union Free School District #3 about “a white male in a silver jeep who has been attempting to engage students in conversation while they are waiting for the school bus.”  The letter encouraged parents/guardians to discuss safety procedures with their children.

I’d like to take this opportunity to review with you some of the specific issues you should discuss with your children to help them remain safe when they are out of your care, such as traveling to and from school and encountering adults on a daily basis.

First and foremost for children of all ages, it is critical to instill in them the understanding that “no adult ever needs help from a child.” This is a clear definitive rule for protecting your children from predators.  No need to get into lollipops and puppies. It is simple: “No adult ever needs help from a child.” Repeat it over and over.

With that in mind, clarify with your child that he/she should never engage in a conversation with a stranger at the bus stop or on the playground.  If your child is old enough to be at the bus stop alone, coordinate with a neighbor near the stop and perhaps that can be a place to go should there be a problem.  If your child carries a cell phone, 911 should be on speed dial and should be called if your child feels threatened in any way.

When playing on the playground, whether public or at school, explain to your child that they should stay with groups of other children and avoid the edges of the playground. Tell your child not to get close enough to a stranger to be grabbed.  They should be loud and get noticed if they find themselves in a physical struggle. Advise them to go to an adult whom they trust and let him or her know that someone is making them uncomfortable or has tried to physically harm them.  Teach your children to trust their instincts.  It is definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Review the school’s emergency plan with your child.  Let them know what to expect in an emergency and who is authorized to take them home. Unless they speak to you directly, they should only leave the school with a previously designated person.

If your child is coming home to an empty house, make sure there is a neighbor available if a problem arises.  Should your child enter the house and notice anything amiss, tell him or her to turn around, get out, and go to the neighbor’s house and ask for help. Remind your children never to open the door for a stranger.  This includes all delivery and repair people. Even those we see on a regular basis. Your child should never let on to a phone caller that he or she is alone.  Advise them to end the conversation quickly and if someone asks to speak to an adult, simply say “they can’t come to the phone right now.”

Discussing safety techniques and situation avoidance is the best way to prevent an incident from occurring in the first place. Provide your child with the knowledge, understanding and confidence of how to be independent and secure. As we always say to you, and now say to your child, “Stay alert, focused, and aware of your surroundings. Use your intuition, think self protection, and be prepared”.

For questions or more information on Personal Protection Programs for you and your family contact:

Michael Starr; 631-425-0695;


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5 comments to Keeping Our Children Safe


    Thank you for this excellent letter. This is great advice. I have had MANY conversations with parents about that first tenant-grown ups do not need help from kids…it’s such important advice. Thank you for your time in putting this out there.

  • Huntington tax payer

    It would be good to know what school in what town this is referring to ??

  • Concerned Mom in Lloyd Harbor

    Well-intentioned, yes, but the cell phone advice given here is startlingly lame. This is coming from an expert?

    1) Calling 911 via speed dial on a cell phone can involve a longer, more complex sequence of button pushes than simply pressing 9-1-1-SEND. Also, given the fear a child may have at the moment, the correct speed dial sequence could be forgotten altogether. Simply pressing 9-1-1-SEND is likely to be easier and faster.

    2)Some cell phones simply don’t allow adding 911 as a speed dial.

    3)Even if a child manages to call 911, the service differs from dialing 911 on a land line. Often, minutes can elapse before a cell phone-initiated 911 call gets a response. What should the child do while listening to the on-hold recording?

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