There comes a time when parents need to let their children have the responsibility and independence of going places on their own. But as a parent you want to keep your teen safe, even if they insist they are old enough and equipped enough to go it on their own.
Keep in Touch
If your teen is walking alone, have them text you or check in when they arrive at their destination. You can even come up with a secret code to make it more fun or if they are a little embarrassed about checking in with their parents while surrounded by friends. Knowing where your teen is will help if they need help or you need to reach them.
Teach your teen to be alert and aware when walking alone. For example, it might be good to walk without headphones in at night to be more in tune with their surroundings. A person who is aware and confident becomes less of a potential target than someone who is plugged into their phone and not paying attention.
Plan a Route
Image Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Plan regular routes your teen can take to places like school and friends’ houses. Walk the route together and time how long it takes—this can come in handy if you don’t hear from your teen for a while after they’ve gone out. Neighbors will also get used to your teen walking the same way on a regular basis, forming relationships (even minor ones) that make a route safer.
Trust Your Gut
Listen to your gut, it’s usually right. This goes for parents and kids—if you think you should have heard from your teen by a certain time, give them a call to make sure everything is alright. If you are a teen walking alone and have the feeling that someone is following you, be alert and confident, check your surroundings and make sure you are on a route you are familiar with. If you are near a friend’s house, a school or public place, duck in for a bit and call a parent to come pick you up. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Teach your teen the skills they will need if they are ever in the worst-case scenario. Enroll them in a self-defense class and teach them the best way to escape a bad situation or what to do if that situation escalates.
It can be difficult to discuss this topic with your teen—it can be nerve-wracking and they may be confident enough that “nothing will happen,” but you can never be too prepared.
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