Magazine article USA TODAY

Extra Vigilance Needed for Shopping and Traveling

Magazine article USA TODAY

Extra Vigilance Needed for Shopping and Traveling

Article excerpt

Parents need to be careful not to let their guard down or become distracted while traveling or attending public functions during the 2010 holiday season. Tim Kang, actor from the CBS show "The Mentalist" has partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Alexandria, Va., to help educate parents about what they should be telling their kids to keep them safe while shopping and traveling.

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Grownups need to discuss safety with youngsters before heading out to a busy shopping mall or bearding a plane, train, or bus. Crowds are greater this time of year and children easily may become separated from their parents, causing confusion and fear. If that should happen, parents need a plan. "Unfortunately, many adults and children don't know what to do if they lose each other in a public place or are faced with other unsafe situations," says Kang.

Parents should keep children with them at all times while shopping; accompany and supervise youngsters in public facilities, including restrooms; have a predesignated spot to meet if you become separated; teach children to look for people who can help, such as a uniformed security officer, salesperson, or mother with children; and remind youngsters to remain in the area where they become separated.

Moreover, parents never should dress children in clothing that displays their first or last names, prompting unwelcome attention from people looking for an opportunity to start a conversation with the child; leave kids in toy stores or public facilities expecting supervision from store personnel; go shopping or attend a public event with a child if they feel they are going to be distracted; allow younger children to shop on their own to purchase surprise gifts for friends or family members; or drop off older children at a mall or public place without agreeing on a clear plan for picking them up, including where, what time, and what to do in case of a change in plans. …

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