Reports of child abductions and molestations strike fear into the hearts of parents. Parents of twins and multiples are often approached by strangers who want to admire their babies or toddlers, ask questions or share their own stories about multiples. Multiples are often accustomed to attention from strangers, and so it's even more important to educate them about the risks, without generating unecessary fear.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers these tips to parents:
- Teach your children to run away from danger, not towards it. Teach them that danger is anyone or anything invading their personal space.
- Know where your children are and whom they're with at all times. With multiples, there are certainly more children to keep up with, but parents have to develop systems to keep track.
- Talk openly with your children about safety and encourage them to express their feelings about things that make them scared, uncomfortable or confused.
- Vary your daily routines and habits. With multiples, sometimes it's tough enough to just get through the day, much less worry about varying your routine. But think about changing the route you follow on your daily walk, driving a different way to school, or running errands at different times of day.
- Know your caregivers. Do background screening and reference checks on everyone who works at your home or day care, and particularly those people that care for your children.
Here are some additional tips:
- Be careful about openly using your multiples names. Avoid labeling backpacks or clothing in a conspicious way that would give personal information to strangers who could use it to victimize the children.
- Don't let your multiples play outdoors unsupervised. It's tempting to take some time for yourself while they're happily occupied, but you're better off keeping them indoors in a secure play spot.
- If they ride a bus to school, walk them to and from the bus stop and watch them board the bus.
- Don't leave your children unattended in a vehicle. It's tough to run in and out of stores with multiple babies or toddlers, but the risk is too great. Hire a babysitter to ride with you while you run errands if necessary, or leave the children at home if the inconvenience is too burdensome.
- Teach your multiples to respond appropriately when strangers approach. Always supervise young children's interactions with strangers. Usually they're just curious or complimentary about your twins or multiples, but parents need to be cautious.
- Use the buddy system. While that's an inherent part of being a twin or multiple, children can take their status for granted. Just being together isn't enough; they have to be looking out for each other at all times.