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How to Dad: Keeping your Children Safe at the Store

How to Dad: Keeping your Children Safe at the Store

I need to apologize to my mother. Mom, I am sorry for always running and hiding in the clothes rack at any store we went to when I was a child. I never knew how much stress this put on you, and I’m sorry.

Some time ago, my two-year-old son took a page out of my playbook and ran off while we were in the store. I was chasing him in the aisles, and then like magic, he was gone. I found my wife in the store and told her that we had a problem. She informed the store clerk and hung out by the door as they called Code Adam. To say it was a stressful two minutes would be an understatement. After a few minutes, that seemed like an eternity, we found him looking at some toys. All was well, he was safe and our family shuffled out of the store embarrassed by the ordeal. Recently, my wife told me a story about a mother and her children being followed around an Ikea furniture store by two men. These men did not have the best intentions and appeared they were going to abduct the children. Could my son have easily been taken that day if these types of people were lurking around? You bet. My wife and I promptly made a plan to make sure that our children are always safe.

Park by a shopping cart corral

This tip is the most helpful when you are going to the store without your spouse. By parking close to the corral, you can load your groceries, bags, and children very quickly and only be two steps away from your car. If the spot is on the other side of the aisle or a little farther, key fobs come in handy. Lock the doors while you return your cart, and do it quickly.

Make eye contact with anyone who engages the children

Eye contact shows that you’re paying attention to what is happening. If you were to see a mama or papa bear with a cub, and you made eye contact with the parent, what would you do? You would probably run, I assume.  That’s the type of presence you are trying to make.

Keep one hand on the stroller/cart always

There have been many times that I have let go of the cart, or stroller, as I reach for things and I don’t even think about it. This could give someone easy access to knock you out of the way and take your child. Also, if a child is walking, watch them as you reach for things. Like my personal experience earlier, they could easily take off in an instant.

Stay alert

When I was around 12 years old, I remember this time I was at the store with my mother. She had placed her purse in the spot where a child would sit. We were busy shopping and looking for the things we needed. She bent over to pick something off the shelf--I had my back turned to her. When she stood upright again, there was a man standing inches from her cart, about to snatch her purse. Being a large child, I turned around and spooked. Thankfully, he didn't get her purse. Had we been alert of our surroundings, we may not have been put in that situation. Even though it’s a bag and not a child, I feel the lesson is the same: let your guard down and something bad might happen.

I don’t want to create hysteria or freak anyone out by pointing out these problems that could happen. However, with how child trafficking is on the rise, we all need to be aware of our surroundings and not be distracted.

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