2014-06-20 / In the Know

Summer safety tips for parents and children

By Timothy Barker
Special to the Leader

As the school year draws to a close, many parents are planning for their children’s summer activities. Whether they are spending the summer at home with parents, a nanny, or away from home at a summer camp, the Scarborough Police Department would like to share important safety tips with parents to help ensure that children are being cared for under the watchful eyes of trusted adults.

Know your child care providers

Childcare decisions are important both for you and your child. Take the time and research your options. Obtain references and do background screening from people that you know. If you are new to the area or would like information as to where to find qualified childcare options, the Department of Health and Human Services has information available on its website.

Please follow the following links to learn about the options that are available to you: http://www.childcarechoices.me/ SearchForChildcare.aspx. This is a link for childcare options in your area. http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/ec/occhs/ infoparents.htm#List. This is a link for information for parents on Child and Family Services. http://sor.informe.org. This is a link for the Maine Sex Offender Registry.

Camps and summer programs

Ask if a background screening check is completed on the individuals working with the children. Make sure there will be adult supervision of your children at all times, and make sure you are made aware of all activities and field trips offered by the camp or program. http://mainecamps.org/. This is a link for Summer Kids Camps in Maine.

Communicate and observe your children

Prior to having your children watched for the day, or sending them off for a week, talk with them. Tell them that what is expected and what they should know about what is acceptable communication from someone that is caring for them.

Be clear on what the boundaries are and what to do if these boundaries are crossed. Encourage your kids to tell you or a trusted adult if someone else is making them feel uncomfortable, scared or confused. Talk about their safety, and that of others. Tell your child to be aware of others paying special attention to them or if they are befriending them.

Create a safety plan with your child should they be put in an uncomfortable situation. This may be their way of feeling comfortable with letting you know that something is wrong. Be available and talk to your child about the daily activities and watch for signs of uncomfortable responses. Teach them that it is OK to talk about things and that they are not being a tattletale.

Lastly, the Scarborough Police Department encourages you to be proactive in your child’s safety.

Each year, thousands of children in the United States go missing. Are you prepared to provide law enforcement with the necessary information during this traumatic time?

Please take some time to visit the FBI’s website at http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/august/ child_ 080511/child_ 080511. This is a link that has information on how to download the child ID application to your phone which was created by the FBI, which can be quickly transferred to a law enforcement officer. You can also contact the Scarborough Police Department for child identification kits that include fingerprints and DNA.

The Scarborough Police Department extends our wishes for a happy and safe summer for all our children.

Please feel free to contact me in reference to any of the information in this article at tbarke@ ci.scarborough.me.us or 730-4308.

Timothy Barker is a sergeant with the Scarborough Police Department.

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