How to ensure 8-10yo child safety when I am not by their side

how to keep kid safe

From the second semester onwards, my 10yo girl has to stay back for classes or volleyball training for 4 times a week. That means she goes out the house before 7 and is only back after 4pm daily by school bus. It is like an 8 hour job, isn’t it? We are thinking to let her take the public transport back on her own. But without a phone, I am worried about her safety on the road and also safety in general.

But… I can’t be holding on to her and deprive her of learning independence and “striking out on her own in the world”. If you know what I mean…

She is certainly old enough to take the public transport and we are only talking about 2 bus stops away. But the tricky part is that going to her school has a direct bus to take, but coming back is not that straightforward. She either has to walk across 2 big pedestrian crossing at a major traffic junction or she has to change buses for the shortest route back, or she has to walk across 2 long bridges.

Before I put her on the road on her own, I need to bring her with me on a few occasions to trial the routes. She protests, saying she knows all the routes. Still, I am not letting go until I do this trial with her and also prep her on the below safety measures which I am not leaving to chance. Call me a kiasu mum, or helicopter mum, but at least I prep her mentally and ensure she is armed with knowledge of what to do when she’s alone and faces problems.

1) Have spare coins to make phone calls

Since my girl has no mobile, I always ensure she has 10 cents coins to make emergency public phone calls as and when needed. And if she ran out of coins, she can go to nearby shops to ask for change or even approach strangers.

2) Approaching strangers

This is a tricky part.

When she is in school, she knows that she can approach the teachers for help.

When she is out of school, for instance going home alone or lost the group during school excursions, she knows that she can approach strangers for emergency phone calls and I teach her to approach aunties or uncles at bus stops. It is important that she uses her instincts well and backs off when she does not feel comfortable with the person she approaches.

There is always a part of me that fears for the kids meeting the wrong people on the road. But this is how one grows up and learns along the way to be street smart. I can only do so much to prep them for such scenarios, the rest has to be trusted to them to handle life’s situations.

3) Having spare cash in the school bag

She has spare cash with her, for instance, to take a cab home. She knows that if she does not have enough money to pay the cab fees, she can ask the cab driver for a mobile to call home for someone to pay the cab fees.

There are things that I taught my girl not to do and what is not right. This is for self protection in physical, mental and emotional.

4) Crossing the road

She cannot jaywalk on the road and even crossing at the turn of green man, she must always look right and left for cars that may not stop at red light.

5) Sexual harassment

She knows that she must not be touched inappropriately by strangers nor anyone else. I did go through explicitly with the kids which are the areas not to be touched. If she ever encounters an unfortunate experience, she has to scream out loud and shout “molest”, alert the authorities (for eg, the bus driver, librarian, teacher, principal, etc), and get someone to call the police. It may be hard for a young child to do all the above, but at least she must scream out “molest” and if possible, give that scumbag a tight slap! (I did tell her to slap or knee the crucial part in self defence. Mums have to teach daughters self defence, you know?)

6) Verbal abuse

She knows that verbal abuse or insults cannot be tolerated and she must not keep mum about it. Same goes for physical abuse and bullying. At the very least, I am always here for her to pour out problems.

7) Self-esteem

For self esteem, she needs to love herself and if she ever faces ostracism by her friends or bullying, she has me to turn to and I will teach her how to handle the situation on her own like what I did when her supposed best friend toyed with her trust and friendship.

Being a mum, I have to think of all kinds of scenarios and teach her what to do when she faces such situations. This is perhaps the best way to teach her resilience, independence and how to keep herself safe in life.

Same goes for my 8yo boy. When it comes to safety preparation, there is not much difference between boys and girls, men and women, adult and child. Except that child requires more protection.

How do you keep your child safe?


11 thoughts on “How to ensure 8-10yo child safety when I am not by their side

  1. These are great ideas! I am so not ready to even think about this with z as she is just now 4, but these are all good things to start talking about a a teaching even now. Thanks Christy!

  2. Thanks for sharing 🙂 About approaching strangers, I asked my kids to approach those nearby working in uniform. Eg. security guards, 7-11 storekeepers, etc. I don’t feel comfortable letting them approach people at the bus stop. I also let my girl keep an umbrella that’s easy to manage in her bag. Just my 2 cents 🙂

    • Hi CE, actually you are right, I should ask them to approach uniformed passersby. But then sometimes we may not be able to find people in uniform at bus-stops and I am imagining no shops nearby. Umbrella is a good idea! I used to carry that and remember that in my bag for emergency use haha… Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  3. Yet an another interesting theme Christy. A scary one. My children are smaller but I still have given this some thought because of our move. One of the huge bonuses for the location of our new home is that our kids future school is 1-1,5kms away, there is a ln easy bus connection but also no need to cross any major streets if kids ride their bikes. The other thing is that we now have a grocery shop maybe 500 metres away, also possible to reach without crossing any streets (pedestrian tunnels/bridges in place), and my daughter has already offered to run there to get some bread. No, she is not allowed on her own yet. There is anyway a dodgy pub next to the shop… the thing is, I grew up on an island where everyone knew each other, of course we ran early on our own on arrends. And this is Finland, where it is not likely to end up a crime victim. But then it is only one car or dodgy person it takes… but at some point they need to be allowed to do things like that. We train how to behave in the traffic as we walk and ride bikes/ scooters a lot but I surely should talk about approaching strangers even though they don’t go on their own yet. We tell our kids to look up a uniform or shop keeper if they were to get lost but otherwise haven’t really talked about why not trust quite anyone. And I should, and will, now emphasise them needing to tell me if anyone does anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. What an important reminder!

    • Your place is big and one has to travel a long way before he sees a shop compared to densely populated Singapore. In cities, we can’t take chances, but we still need to let the kids grow up and be independent. That’s always our constant worry, isn’t it? We do not have very friendly bike lanes over here and I always like the idea of kids scooting to school or biking to school. We just have too many traffic to allow young kids on their own.

      The idea of gut feel and back off was really from someone who told me that his daughter in university used to travel on her own and stay at strangers’ homes, what they call couchsurfers. As he trusted his daughter’s independence, he has to teach her how to be street smart on her own. In fact, he shared many stories that his daughter had backed off several times whenever she feels uneasy upon first instinct of interacting with the person opening the main door of the house. I don’t think I can do that. So, I am starting small with my kids with approaching strangers on the street.

      • Uusi, coachsurfing. .. I’ve travelled a fair bit on my own, hitch hiked when younger too, but that is one thing I hadn’t dared… I think I’d be bad at backing out based on my gut feeling at the door step. How good of your friends daughter to do that! Street smart is important!

  4. Wow, great list, and oh so scary to have to let them grow up!! I honestly don’t know how we do it! But I know you have taught your kids well, and are leading by a good example and showing them how to be able to take care of themselves.

  5. Mr T is a boy. Maybe we are not as worried towards boys than girls. My first kid is a girl and she gets to experience everything first and it’s my first time dealing with safety issues. Hope that my teaching helps in real life and when the time does come. And hope she remembers 😛

  6. I missed this post earlier! It is so interesting, thank you for sharing and prompting so many of us to start thinking! My eldest is 7 and so eager to do so many things on his own, and I totally trust he can do it; I just don’t trust other people 🙂

    • Glad you like this post! It’s really scary to think that our kids are old enough to be facing the dangerous world out there. They have to learn and start somewhere. I think 7 sounds young, but it all depends on how mature and independent the child is. I am sure you will find more ways to arm them with safety knowledge 🙂

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