Child Safety

Questions for Your Child’s School

Rather than relying on government, you can make at least as vigorous an inquiry of your child’s school as you would of your child’s babysitter. Below is a list of questions that can guide your evaluation of a school. The school should have a ready answer to every one of these questions. If they don’t, …

Distinguish Between Fear and Worry

Question: I’m so afraid for my four-year-old daughter to attend preschool. I feel she’s still so small, she’s my only child, and I fear someone may mistreat her. There’s no one there she knows and she’s all alone. I met her teacher and she doesn’t seem friendly. My daughter is still a baby and has …

Questions for Prospective Nannies

Question: I am in the process of hiring a nanny. Do you have a list of good interview questions I could ask? Answer: In our culture of short encounters and little accountability, it is important to learn a lot about someone you bring into your life, particularly someone who’ll be alone with your children. The …

Best Advice for a Lost Child

Question: Last week I was in the mall with my two children. Suddenly, I looked up from the rack and couldn’t find my five-year-old. I heard a scream in the hallway of the mall and realized it was my daughter running down the hall! I held on to my baby and ran after her. Luckily …

What if my son wants to sleep over at a house that keeps guns?

Question: My next-door neighbors have several guns in their home. A few weeks ago, I told them I didn’t want my 14-year-old son sleeping over there anymore. The father said his two teenage boys know all about gun safety, but I still said “No.” Later, he offered to put locks on his guns when my …

Will mandatory uniforms reduce school violence?

Question: Given the recent climate of school violence, do you think mandatory school uniforms will reduce this violence? Answer: I believe that school uniforms can reduce violence, and that they help in other ways as well. Dress codes and uniforms can make school more about the learning and less about the symbolic individual expression of …

How do I change what I’ve taught my youngster about talking to strangers?

Question: After years of telling my five-year-old daughter ‘‘never talk to strangers,” how do I begin to say ‘‘now it’s ok to talk to strangers”? Answer: Well, it can’t be too many years, given her age, but let’s imagine that she’s had a fairly clear concept of strangers for a year or two. Just like …

My son was shot at by a teenage boy who lives next door

Question: A few weeks ago, my son (14) was cutting the grass in the backyard. He was shot at by a teenage boy from the next house. The police were called and they were also fired at by the boy. The boy in question (17) was arrested and released. My boys (14 and 15) have …

An older boy is touching the young girls in our neighborhood

Question: There’s a large seventh-grade boy on our block who has, on several occasions, touched two of our young (under six-years-old) girls in ways that horrify us mothers. He picked up a three-year-old and was rubbing under her dress until a mom saw and grabbed her, and another time he was rubbing himself on a …

Are there indications of violence to look for in my teenage sons?

Question: I have two teenage sons. They’re great kids, honor roll students, active in sports, school activities, church, etc. They have friends, attend dances, and are interested in school activities. Like many other teenage boys, they like violent video games and movies. But the Columbine shooters sounded just like this. What other kinds of things …

A boy in our son’s class has been abusive and the principal isn’t doing anything about it

Question: My son is in sixth grade and there’s a boy in his class who has major problems! He’s not the only problem though.  My other problem is the principal, who won’t hold any of the kids accountable for their behavior. The boy has been physically and verbally abusive to several kids. Two years ago, …

Can you offer ideas on how to handle a rebellious daughter?

Question: I have an 11-year-old daughter who is being very rebellious and doesn’t like to do what she’s told. I know I don’t spend a lot of time with her any more (because of my work). How do I handle this situation? Answer: First, let’s be sure this is a real problem, because it looks …

Should I be concerned about the violent things my grandson brags he has done?

Question: My ten-year-old grandson brags about violent things he says he has done. I don’t believe he has really hurt or beaten up all the boys he says he has, but I am worried about his boastful attitude. Should I be concerned? Answer: You ask if you should be concerned, but the fact that you …

My son’s friend is being bullied at school. Do I tell his Mom?

Question: My son is eight. He came home from school today and told me that his good friend is getting picked on by other kids who call him a wimp and a geek because he is quiet and non-confrontational. I know the boy’s Mom. Do I tell her? Answer: Would you want to be told …

How can you teach a painfully shy child to speak to strangers?

Question: I liked the idea of actually having my seven-year-old daughter learn to speak to strangers. How do I go about something like this when she is too shy to ask for things and sometimes can’t even order her own food in a restaurant? Answer: You start by starting. Your daughter will be more willing …

How can I protect my teenage daughter from older men online?

Question: Our oldest child is 15 and likes to go online, which she does at the local library because the children cannot log in by themselves in our home (our PC is password-protected). It seems she started chatting with a man who is 28. About a month later, she received a phone call from this …

Do criminals pass on their violent genes?

Question: I was adopted as a child. I recently found my birth mother and found out my father was a violent rapist. I have two teenage sons. Is there a hereditary predisposition gene that is passed on? I have heard that criminals pass on their violent genes. Is this true? Answer: “Nature versus nurture” describes …

How can I protect my son when I’m not able to be around?

Question: My son gets beat up a lot on his way home from school and once he got his bike taken away from him. What can I do to stop that since I am never home when he gets home? What can I do? Answer: As is often the case, your answer is embedded in …

I’m worried my seven-year-old will be violent as a teenager

Question: My seven-year-old son gets angry very easily, talks back, refuses to do what he’s told, and hurts my four-year-old daughter when he’s angry. He has also said a couple of times that he is going to kill himself. I am worried about how he is acting now. Will he be even worse as a …

What’s the best way to evaluate bomb threats at schools?

Question: I am school principal who recently had to manage a bomb threat situation. What’s the best way to evaluate these threats? Answer: First, it isn’t the threat that’s evaluated at all: It’s the situation. The words a caller chooses are not the issue. For example, imagine one student threatens to kill a friend, and …

The most aggressive, disruptive student in my class

Question: I’m a grade four teacher in a major metropolitan city. I have a male in my class who draws pictures in which he is killing other students and teachers. These drawings show students and teachers being hanged and shot, etc. He constantly talks about guns and also says he dreams about killing people he …

I’m concerned about the safety of children in our township

Question: A girl in my son’s fifth grade class brought a knife to school because someone had been making fun of her. The principal made a recommendation for expulsion. However, there was an appeal made by the family and now the girl is back at school. Our superintendent and school board can give me no …

What do you do about a bully who ignores adult intervention?

Question: What do you do about a bully? My son is on a sports team and one child seems to have it out for him even though my son doesn’t even know the child. I’ve already discussed this with the coach and he says he’ll watch out for it but it has not been resolved. …

What are some signs that a student might be violent?

Question: Are there any signs to look for if a student is going to kill someone or act out in violence? Answer: Yes, indeed, there are. Though no pre-incident indicator on its own is persuasive, if a student displays many of the indicators below, it is call for concern. At a minimum, the student may …

What are your do’s and don’ts of placing information on a website?

Question: Is there any information available about the do’s and don’ts of placing information on a website such as pictures, hobby info, personal info, and more? We are aware of chat room danger but this is different. We have found nothing that is specific to website information placement. Can you tell us anything more or …

We’re having conflict with our child over a violent video game. How should we handle this?

Question: My 13-year-old son bought the PC game Call of Duty. It is beginning to cause problems in our home, due to his wanting to play it all the time and, frankly, because I’m not comfortable with the level of violence on the game. Trying to negotiate limits on the amount of time has not …

Should I send my son to a camp where a counselor was accused of sexual misconduct?

Question: The camp I chose for my four-year-old son had a great reputation. However, last summer a counselor was accused of sexual misconduct with a first-grader. The matter is pending in court now. The camp has not changed any policies and they stand by their reputation. Should I be concerned? Is one bad apple a …

Our troubled 13-year-old is turning to violence . . .

Question: Our 13-year-old son has been arrested for attempted assault on his father, and suspended from school for telling a student he was going to bring a gun to school and blow everyone away (he has no access to a gun). We have him in counseling, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. The …

How old should a child be when she starts walking to school alone?

Question: How old should a child be when she starts walking to school alone? My daughter is eight. Answer: A child doesn’t magically at some predetermined age become confident, assertive, capable, and powerful. Ideally, this development is a gradual process of ever-greater challenges during which a child gains experience and autonomy. Only you know what …

What are your thoughts on spanking children as a form of discipline?

Question: What are your thoughts on spanking children as a form of discipline? I am currently doing a paper about this issue and would appreciate your input. Answer: I oppose hitting children as a form of discipline. I also oppose hitting as an expression of anger, as a method of domination, or for any other …

Is it best to discourage my son from guns or to teach him how to use them properly?

Question: I am the mother of a three-and-a-half-year-old boy. Many of his playmates have toy guns and other ‘‘violent’’ toys. We do not have any and I try to discourage him from playing with them at a friend’s house. However, lately, he has been constructing ‘‘guns’’ out of LEGOs and playing ‘‘shooting game,’’ explaining that …

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