Disney World’s reputation for creating a family-friendly environment is well deserved. The culture they foster – built on the ultimate customer service model mixed with a commitment to ingenuity and detail – is designed to take you away from the hustle and bustle of your every day life and into another world. As such, it’s easy to let your guard down. But even in the land of all things magical, personal security should never be disregarded. Here are 5 Tips for Protecting Your Children from Predators in Disney World:
5. Education. Teaching your children about personal security is always the best thing you can do to keep them safe. Warning them about predators, the common techniques used to lure adolescents, and what your child should do when they feel threatened will do more to keep them safe than just about anything else. The universal tried and true advice applies here: don’t talk to strangers, never go anywhere alone, never provide personal information like last names or room numbers. And remind them that an adult should never ask a child for help – and if they do – something might be seriously wrong.
4. Orient. Lets face it – Disney World is huge. And it is just as crowded as it is large. A child could step just a few feet away and easily lose their bearings between all of the buildings, corners, and crowds. As much as possible, help your child become familiar with the layout of the park. Point out to Disney employees, First Aid centers, and Baby Care Centers (facilities where lost children are taken).
3. Clothing. Many people do not realize that choice of clothing can play an important roll in their child’s safety. If you have more than one child, one of the best security measures you can take is to dress them in the exact same outfit. In the unfortunate event that a child is lost or kidnapped, you can use your other child to show law enforcement, park officials, and other guests the exact outfit your missing child is wearing. This is a serious advantage for anyone assisting in the recovery efforts. Rather than trying to imagine what the child is wearing based on descriptions provided through the murky memory of panicked and grief-stricken parents, those involved in recovery efforts will know for certain what they are looking for.
2. Pictures. Thanks to the evolution of cell phones over the years, this one is easier than ever. Having an updated picture of your child has always been an essential tool for locating missing or kidnapped children. But having a picture of the child from that day – with the outfit they were wearing, the way their hair was styled, and any accessories they may have been carrying (a favorite toy, a souvenir, etc.) is priceless. The finite details which could be easily forgotten under even normal circumstances are now available to all. And any one of those finite details could be the key to locating the child. Knowing the exact souvenir could lead to someone noticing it in a corner – giving a clue as to the direction the child was last headed. That in turn could lead to checking the correct security camera’s which shows the child and if someone was with them, and so on. Before you leave, take at least one high resolution picture of them from the front and one from the back. I would also recommend one good picture of the shoes they are wearing and the soles (having one of the shoes will be helpful if one is located and having one of the soles is critical for law enforcement to compare size and track pattern if shoe prints are found).
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1. Apps. There are a multitude of mobile apps these days that focus on security. My personal favorite though is FBI Child ID. This app tracks all of the vital information one would need in the event that a child went missing. Full name, nicknames they would answer to, height & weight, eye & hair color, piercings, identifiable characteristics (such as birthmarks, scars, and tattoos, etc.), and full contact information for the parents are but a few of the fields in the app. The app also holds a profile picture and pictures for each identifiable characteristic listed. In short, it’s a full bio markup ready to be sent to the FBI at the push of a single button (literally). Snap a picture of your child once they are fully dressed and ready to go, save it as the profile picture for that day, and you are prepared in the event of an emergency. Once again, not having to struggle to remember all of these details while in a panic-stricken state will prove to be valuable. Being able to involve one of the most powerful and well-funded law enforcement agencies in the world at the click of a button will be equally so.
Remember the universal law of security in any form (physical, virtual, etc.) – there is no “magic bullet”. No one step or measure provides (total/complete) security. Real security is only achieved through layered security. Your child’s first layer of security is you. Making sure that you never get distracted or leave their side is their best protection. In the unfortunate event that does occur for any reason however, having previously educated them on the dangers and steps they should take is their next best line of defense. In the event that there is a breakdown in this layer as well, having the matching clothing, pictures, apps, and other items outlined here will greatly increase the chances of their safe return. Don’t take your family’s security lightly – even at Disney World. Make the steps outlined here a priority and then go experience the magic!
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