Child Safety

Keeping Your Family Safe During a Terrorist Attack

December 15, 20150 Comments

A series of studies conducted by researchers at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness show that while 72% of Americans anticipate future terror attacks, fewer than 50% of us have a family emergency plan in place. It is not likely that any of us will forget the images of the families who were affected during the Boston bombing, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, or the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting.

attacks-by-typeImage via FBI

After attacks and incidents such as these, people often wonder how to keep their families safe and ask, “What would I do?” So, if nearly 75% of Americans believe terrorist attacks are inevitable, why are so few American families prepared? The answer may lie in the term “terrorist attack” itself.

While people may consider the shootings at Sandy Hook and Aurora to be terrorist attacks, by definition, they were not. In fact, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “there is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism.

Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as ‘the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.’” It is difficult to be fully prepared for something when it’s not clear exactly what it is that you’re preparing for.
Along with the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also has provided somegeneral terrorism information:

Acts of Terrorism

threats of terrorism
bomb scares and bombings
cyber attacks (computer-based)
the use of chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological weapons

High-Risk Targets for Acts of Terrorism

military and civilian government facilities
international airports
large cities
high-profile landmarks
large public gatherings
water and food supplies
corporate centers
mailings (explosives or chemical/biological agents may be sent through the mail)

The Seven Signs of Terrorism

Fearing future terrorist attacks does not mean that people have to live in fear every day. There are several steps people may take to help prepare and protect their families. One such action is to become familiar with the Seven Signs of Terrorism, developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, that have been adopted by State Police across the country as an educational tool.

7-signsImage via

1. Surveillance: Be on the lookout for someone recording or monitoring activities. The type of recording does not have to be as obvious as a camera or a video camera; the person may be taking notes, drawing diagrams, annotating maps, or using binoculars, etc.

2. Elicitation: Be wary of people or groups who attempt to learn information about military operations, capabilities, or people. The attempts do not have to be face-to-face. They may be made by mail, telephone, etc.

3. Tests of Security: If someone is attempting to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of security measures, or if he is attempting to record and analyze reaction times to security breaches, contact your local authorities.

4. Acquiring Supplies: Be vigilant about people who purchase or steal explosives, weapons, ammunition, etc. Other supplies that may be needed for a terrorist attack are military uniforms, flight manuals, badges or the equipment to make them, and any other controlled items. And, as we learned in the Boston bombing, materials such as pressure cookers and fireworks also may be supplies that terrorists purchase in large quantities.

5. Suspicious persons out of place: Of course, we are wary of people who don’t seem to belong in our neighborhoods. But, people also may arouse suspicion at work, businesses, or anywhere, for that matter. Also be alert for people who suspiciously cross the border, stow away on board a ship, or jump ship in port if you are traveling.

6. Dry run/Trial run: Terrorists may practice their attack prior to carrying it out, so watch for people who move around but don’t seem to have a true purpose. A terrorist also may map out routes or time traffic lights, so be on the lookout for these types of activities.

7. Deploying Assets: Terrorists have to get people and supplies positioned prior to committing the terrorist act. If you suspect these activities are occurring, immediately contact the authorities because this may be the last chance you have to do so before the terrorist act takes place.

us-attacksImage via National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism

Virtually all state and federal agencies encourage families to take the time to prepare for terrorist attacks. There are three steps to help you get started on protecting your loved ones from acts of terrorism:

1. Know your work, school, and community disaster plans. If you do not know the plans, contact your supervisor, school administrators, or local fire department for information.

2. Identify an alternative hospital. Hospitals closest to the event always are the busiest.

3. Use online resources to create disaster plans and review steps for protecting yourself and your loved ones. FEMA provides a downloadable Family Emergency Plan.

Terrorist Attack: In a Public Place

Terrorists typically attack public places with large crowds because they want to cause the most damage and get the most attention for their cause. One of the best ways to keep your family safe from terrorist attacks in public places is to share and discuss the Seven Signs of Terrorism with age-appropriate children.

publicImage via The National Counterterrorism Center

A simpler way to discuss the signs of terrorism with children is to focus on “Look and Listen.” This approach narrows the Seven Signs of Terrorism to a more kid-friendly version that includes looking for:

Bags left unattended in public places.

People checking areas or buildings.

People trying to enter secure areas.

People at events wearing too much clothing.

Terrorist Attack: Explosive Devices

Terrorists use explosive devices as one of their most common weapons. According to a report by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, bombings/explosions account for 51.53% of the tactics used in terrorist attacks in the United States from 1970-2011.

by-typeImage via The National Counterterrorism Center

Unfortunately, information for making explosive devices is readily available online and in other information sources, and the materials necessary for making the explosives easily are found in many places. Because of the portable nature of explosive devices and the ease with which they may be detonated from remote locations, terrorists rely on this type of weapon frequently.

One way to keep your family safe from these explosive devices is to know which types of parcels are suspect. Look for parcels that:

Are unexpected or from someone unknown to you

Have no return address, or have one that can’t be verified

Are marked with restrictions such as “Personal,” “Confidential,” or “Do not X-ray”

Have protruding wires or aluminum foil, strange odors, or stains

Show a city or state in the postmark that doesn’t match the return address

Are an unusual weight for their size or are lopsided or oddly shaped

Are marked with threatening language

Have inappropriate or unusual labeling

Have excessive postage or packaging material such as masking tape or string

Have misspellings of common words

Are addressed to someone not at the address listed or are otherwise outdated

Have incorrect titles or titles without a name

Are not addressed to a specific person

Have hand-written or poorly typed addresses

Be proactive about checking packages and share the information with your age-appropriate children. They may be responsible for getting your mail after school, or they may love to pick up the boxes left on your stoop during the day, so it is important that they know which types of packages may be unsafe. Of course, if you or your loved ones suspect a parcel for any reason, do not touch it, leave the area, and immediately contact local authorities. It is always best to alert authorities, even if you are unsure whether there is a true danger.

Protective Measures for an Explosion

Because most bombings occur in public places, your family should know what to do in the event of an explosion. As with any emergency drill, parents should practice the following tips with age-appropriate children and discuss what to do in the event of being trapped in or being near the scene of a bombing. Remember, the goal is to empower your children with knowledge, not to frighten them.

If your family is trapped in debris, you should:

Use a flashlight to signal your location to rescuers, if possible.

Avoid unnecessary movement so you don’t stir the dust.

Cover your nose and mouth with some sort of material that is nearby, to breathe through. Dense-weave cotton material acts as a good filter, or you may wet the material before breathing through it to help filter the dust.

Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear where you are.

Use a whistle to signal rescuers, if possible.

Shout as a last resort, only. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amount of dust.

newsImage via Flickr by Cliff

If your family is near the scene of an explosion, you should:

get under a sturdy table or desk if things are falling around you. When the items stop falling, leave quickly. Watch for obviously weakened floors and stairways, and be especially vigilant about falling debris. Do not use elevators.

follow your family, job, or school emergency disaster plan for leaving and staying away from the explosion. Do not stop to retrieve personal possessions or make any calls or texts. Do not return to the scene because you will increase the risk of danger for rescue workers and your family.

avoid crowds. Crowds of people may be the target of a second attack.

avoid unattended cars and trucks, as these may contain explosives.

do not stand in front of windows, glass doors, or other potentially dangerous areas, including damaged buildings. Move at least 10 blocks or 200 yards away from damaged buildings. Also remember to move away from sidewalks or streets that will be used by emergency officials or other people still exiting the building.

follow directions from people in authority, including police, fire, EMS, military personnel, school supervisors, or workplace supervisors.

call 911 once you are in a safe place, but only if police, fire, or EMS has not arrived to help injured people.

help others who are hurt or need assistance to leave the area if you are able to do so. If you see someone who is seriously injured, seek help. Do not attempt to manage the situation alone.

listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.

Terrorist Attack: Biological, Chemical, or Nuclear Attacks

Keeping your family safe from a biological, chemical, or nuclear attack requires more specific preparations, as you may need to remain in your home in the event of one of these attacks. It may be too late to obtain the materials necessary to keep your family safe after one of these types of attacks occurs, so FEMA has created checklists for families to do before these threats arise:

Protecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Property

Build an Emergency Supply Kit. Include nonperishable food, water, a battery-powered radio, extra flashlights, and batteries.

For a chemical threat, also have a roll of duct tape and scissors in your Emergency Supply Kit, as well as plastic for doors, windows, and vents for the room in which you will be sheltered. Premeasure and cut the plastic sheeting for each opening.

For a nuclear threat, increase your disaster supplies to be adequate for up to two weeks, during periods of heightened threat.

Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family should know how to contact one another because it is possible that you will not all be together at the time of an attack. You should know how to get back together and what to do in the case of an emergency.

Plan meeting places, both within and outside of your neighborhood.

Designate an out-of-town contact number because local numbers may be unavailable.

Be familiar with emergency plans at work, daycare centers, and schools where your family spends time. If no plans are in place, volunteer to help create one.

Know your community’s warning systems and disaster plans.

For a nuclear threat, know your community’s evacuation routes. Ask local officials if any public buildings have been designated as fallout shelters. If none has been designated, make your own list of potential shelters near your home, workplace, and school. These would include basements or the windowless center area of middle floors in high-rise buildings, as well as subways and tunnels. If you live in an apartment building or high-rise, talk to the manager about the safest place in the building for shelter and about providing for building occupants until it is safe to go out.

Notify caregivers and babysitters about your plan.

Make plans for your pets.

For a chemical threat, choose an internal room for shelter. One without windows and on the highest level of your home is best.

Check with your doctor to be sure all immunizations are up to date. Children and older adults are especially vulnerable to biological agents.

Consider installing a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your furnace return duct. These filters remove particles in the air and will filter out most biological agents that may enter your house. If you do not have a central heating or cooling system, a portable HEPA filter can be used.

attacksImage via Navanti Group

Overall, communication between parents and children is vital to a successful family plan and a positive outcome after a terrorist attack. Families are better equipped to handle a terrorist attack if they discuss scenarios and plans before, during, and after an event so that everyone can ease their worries and fears.

Also, keep in mind that children can be involved in the process of creating a plan and making emergency kits. One suggestion is to design a scavenger hunt to make creating a family emergency kit more fun. Each child can be responsible for one item so that children understand they can be proactive about handling emergencies.

Most importantly, keep in mind that children are sensitive to parents’ emotions and reactions. If parents set a proactive tone for emergency preparedness, children are sure to follow. And, if you are feeling completely overwhelmed by preparing for all of the different types of terrorist attacks, follow the General Guidelines to get started.

General Guidelines for Preparing for a Terrorist Attack

terrorismImage via Masbury

Be aware of your surroundings.

Move or leave if you feel uncomfortable or if your instincts tell you something is not right.

Take precautions when traveling.

Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior.

Do not accept packages from strangers.

Do not leave your luggage unattended.

Immediately report unusual behavior, suspicious or unattended packages, and strange devices to police or security.

Know where emergency exits are located in buildings that you frequently visit. Plan how to get out if an emergency arises.

Be prepared to function without services you typically rely on, including electricity, telephone, cell phone service, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs, and Internet transactions.

If you work or live in a large building, work with building owners or managers to be sure the following items are located on each floor of the building:

Portable, battery-operated radio with extra batteries

Several flashlights and extra batteries

First aid kits and manual

Hard hats and dust masks

Fluorescent tape to rope off dangerous areas

The unfortunate reality is that there have already been numerous terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. And there will be more. With counter-terrorism measures advancing every day, the hope is that our technology is capable of predicting attacks and even halting terrorists in their tracks. Preparing for a terrorist attack, and devising a response plan for various scenarios, is the best way to keep your family safe.

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

How To Protect Kids From Predators, Kidnappers

October 19, 20150 Comments

All parents want to keep their children safe. In the wake of the death of Somer Thompson, the 7-year-old Florida girl who vanished Monday on her mile-long walk home from school, many moms and dads are feeling more anxious than ever about how to protect their kids.

Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler and hostage negotiator, has prepared these tips to help parents train their children to avoid dangerous situations and escape a kidnapper. Van Zandt also makes a free DVD, “Protecting Children from Predators,” available at

10 safety tips every child should know

  1. Do not get into any car unless your parents personally tell you to do so. Also, stay away from anyone who follows you on foot or in a car. You do not need and should not go near a car to talk to the people inside.
  2. Adults and other people who need help should not be asking a child for help; they should be asking other adults. Adults should not be asking you for directions or to look for a “lost puppy,” or telling you that your mother or father is in trouble and that they will take you to them.
  3. Quickly get away from anyone who tries to take you somewhere. Yell or scream, “This person is not my father (or mother).”
  4. You should use the “buddy system” and never go places alone. Always ask your parents’ permission to leave the yard/play area or to go over to someone’s home, and especially always ask permission before you go into someone’s home.
  5. Never, never hitchhike! Do not try to get a ride with people unless your parents have told you it’s OK to do so.
  6. People should not ask you to keep a special secret. If they do, tell your parents or teacher. Also, tell anyone who wants to take your picture, “No,” and quickly tell your parents or teacher.
  7. No one should touch you on the parts of the body covered by your bathing suit, nor should you touch anyone else in those areas. Your body is special and private.
  8. You can be assertive and you have the right to say “No” to someone, including adults and even relatives or friends who try to take you somewhere against your will, touch you or make you feel uncomfortable in ANY WAY.
  9. NOTE: Many parents use a special code word that only the child knows to convey a message should someone other than a parent ask a child to accompany them anywhere.
  10. THE YELL: Practice a “special” yell. It is low, loud and long. It tells the person trying to hurt the child, “I know what to do! I’m not an easy victim!” It tells everyone within the sound of the child’s voice, “I need help!” It gets the child going, it breaks the “spell.” A child should not panic and freeze, thereby becoming immobile in an emergency. When you yell you take a deep breath, thereby getting oxygen and energy to your brain and muscles. Your own yell can give you courage and get your feet moving when you need to run away!

School bus stop safety issues

  1. Parents should ensure that if possible, an adult waits with children at school bus stops (not always possible with one-parent families or where both parents work), but something could be worked out with all parents of children at the bus stop to be there on a rotating basis.
  2. Know the path your child takes to and from home to the school bus stop.
  3. Tell your children to avoid short cuts through woods, alleys, parks, or other areas where they could be alone.
  4. Identify safe houses along the way that your child could run to or into for help if needed.
  5. Insure your child does not have his or her name on a backpack, etc., as this would enable a potential abductor to call out to the child by name.
  6. If children feels concerned for their safety, they should always tell their parents and the bus driver of any such concern.
  7. If approached on the way to or from the bus stop or at the bus stop, tell your parents, the bus driver and school officials.
  8. Report any suspicious vehicle. Write down the license number and provide it to school and law enforcement officials.
  9. Stand away from any vehicle that stops near the bus stop and do not allow yourself to come close to or enter the vehicle of someone you don’t want to.
  10. Run from anyone displaying a weapon. Do this while throwing books, yelling and making as much noise as you can. Under no circumstances go with an abductor. Kick, bite, and no matter what the threat, do not go along with your kidnapper. Once he takes you away, your chances of survival greatly diminish.

How to escape a kidnapper — things every child should know

  1. Children should not to be afraid to tell their parents or a trusted adult or teacher if they feel threatened, even if someone has told them not to talk. If victimized, it is never their fault and never something they should be ashamed of or something that they hide from their parents or other caregivers. Tell your children you love them and that if they disappear, no matter what their kidnapper says, you will never stop loving them and you will never stop looking for them.
  2. Never to go with anyone you don’t want to, and don’t let someone take you away from where the potential kidnapper first approaches you. (This and Tip No. 3 below are the most important things a child can do to stop from becoming the victim of a kidnapper.)
  3. Yell, scream, fight and run from any potential abductor. No matter what the assailant says, make as much noise and attract as much attention as you can.
  4. If someone tries to lure you into a vehicle, run the opposite way the vehicle is facing, forcing the kidnapper to turn around to chase the child.
  5. Run to your home, a neighbor’s home, into a store or other public place yelling that someone is trying to kidnap them.
  6. If on your bike, grip the bike. The kidnapper can’t get both you and your bike into a car. If you’re on the street and you can’t run, grab a street light, traffic sign, trash can, mail box or other fixed object while yelling for help.
  7. If the kidnapper points a gun at you, run anyway. Most kidnappers don’t want to attract attention by firing a gun and they probably couldn’t hit you anyway. It’s better to be wounded and left to get help from others then to go off with a kidnapper.
  8. If grabbed, twist your body and scream, “This is not my dad (or my mom)!”
  9. If your assailant grabs you by your coat or backpack, twist out of his grip, leaving him with the coat or backpack as you run and scream toward another nearby adult. Attract the attention of this adult by grabbing and holding on to him or her.
  10. If forced into the front seat of a four-door car or van, immediately jump into the back seat, open the rear door and escape. (Don’t put on a seatbelt as this will obviously slow your escape time.)
  11. If placed in the trunk of a car, look for the emergency trunk release lever and pull it and escape. If you can’t find this, pull out the wires to the tail lights on both sides of the trunk, thereby attracting attention to the vehicle when the stop lights don’t work. (Parents, tell police that your child knows how to do this; therefore, the police will be looking for cars with malfunctioning tail lights.)
  12. Grab the keys from the kidnapper’s car and throw them out the window.
  13. If in traffic, step on the accelerator and make the car crash into the car in front of it.
  14. Honk the horn and try to force the kidnapper to wreck the car.
  15. Do not eat or drink anything your kidnapper gives to you. (It may be drugged.)
  16. If your kidnapper takes you into a store, knock things down, break bottles, yell and scream that you have been kidnapped.
  17. If you’re held in a house, flash the lights on the front porch off and on. If in an upper apartment, flood the bathroom to cause water to flood the apartment below.
  18. Never stop trying to escape and always take the opportunity to use a phone to call 911 and ask for help.
  19. Parents, discuss and practice these things with your children. While doing everything we can to prevent our children from becoming the victim of a kidnapper, we need also equip them with the above information to help them escape should they be taken by an assailant. Information is key and can save the life of your child.
  20. As Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never, never give up.”

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

For a free copy of Clint Van Zandt’s DVD, “Protecting Children from Predators,” visit

National Statistics on Child Abuse

October 19, 20150 Comments

In 2013, an estimated 1,520 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States.1

In the same year, Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country served nearly 295,000 child victims of abuse, providing victim advocacy and support
to these children and their families. In 2014, this number was over 315,000.2

2013 National Abuse Statistics 1

  • An estimated 679,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect (unique instances).
  • 47 states reported approximately 3.1 million children received preventative services from Child Protective Services agencies in the United States.
  • Children in the first year of their life had the highest rate of victimization of 23.1 per 1,000 children in the national population of the same age.
  • Of the children who experienced maltreatment or abuse, nearly 80% suffered neglect; 18% suffered physical abuse; and 9% suffered sexual abuse.
  • Just under 80% of reported child fatalities as a result of abuse and neglect were caused by one or more of the child victim’s parents.

2014 Children’s Advocacy Center Statistics Highlights 2

2014 Full Child Advocacy Center Statistics

Among the over 315,000 children served by Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country in 2014, some startling statistics include:

  • 116,940 children were ages 0 to 6 years
  • 115,959 children were ages 7 to 12 years
  • 81,025 children were ages 13 to 18 years
  • 205,438 children reported sexual abuse
  • 60,897 children reported physical abuse
  • 211,831 children participated in on-site forensic interviewing at a Children’s Advocacy Center

Among the over 244,000 alleged offenders investigated for instances of child abuse in 2014, some startling statistics include:

  • 154,529 were 18+ years old
  • 26,294 were ages 13 to 17 years
  • 20,040 were under age 13 years
  • 95,913 were a parent or step-parent of the victim
  • 127,358 were related or known to the child victim in another way
  • 23,696 were an unrelated person the victim knew

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children & Families. Child Maltreatment 2013.  

National Children’s Alliance 2013 and 2014 national statistics collected from Children’s Advocacy Center members and available on the NCA website:

How To Protect Your Children – Where To Turn For Help

October 16, 20150 Comments

Childhelp USA maintains a 24-hour National Child Abuse Hotline.

National Children’s Alliance has nearly 700 advocacy centers nationwide and helps with the process of reporting and recovering from abuse.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has a free, confidential, secure service that allows victims past and present to get help via its phone and online hotlines.

Stop it Now! also offers a phone and an e-mail Helpline dedicated to sexual-abuse prevention. Its Ask Now! advice column features actual situations so people can seek guidance for their own concerns.

P.S. As a parent, it’s quite natural to worry over the safety of your child. But at the same time, it’s crucial to ensure that your child’s safety is guaranteed. Click here if you want a guaranteed way to protect your children from predators.

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