As a parent, I know there are many fears you may have about your child’s safety… especially now during this outbreak of the coronavirus when people are frightened, confused, and under unusual distress. This is the time to be especially cognizant of where your children are, so keep them in and keep them close. A recent study I found reports that approximately 300 children are abducted each year. We all want to keep our children safe, and no matter how young your children are, it’s always a good idea to help teach them age-appropriate safety skills.

Open Communication is Key
If you are a parent, the most important thing you can do is to communicate openly with your child at home. Have a home atmosphere in which your kids can let you know what is going on in their life. A very important point is to re-learn old concepts of adult/child interaction. Teach your child his rights. He has the right to say “no.” He should know there are different rules for different situations; he doesn’t have to always be polite. Politeness can translate into doing what the potential abductor says.

More Than Just “Stranger Danger”
Abductors don’t usually fit the stereotypical profile of a scary, creepy stranger or a dirty old man. Motives are often sexual and most are not true strangers. They target children and seek their confidence by developing a causal relationship with them. Family abductors make up the majority of kidnap offenders, as in a custody battle.

Basic safety reminders for parents
Here are some basic safety reminders for you and your child to keep in mind at all times.

  1. Know where your child is and who he is with at all times.
  2. Pay attention to changes in your child’s behavior.
  3. Never leave your child alone in a public place, car, or stroller.
  4. Never ask a stranger to hold your baby, even for an instant.
  5. Don’t label your child’s lunch box or clothing.
  6. Don’t let your child go out alone. Teach him to remember to use the buddy system.
  7. Teach your child his telephone number and how to contact you and a close friend.
  8. Take a lot of photos of your child and keep them current.
  9. Keep up-to-date dental and medical records.
  10. Create a secret password between you and your child, so that he knows never to open the door to someone who doesn’t know the password, and never to go with someone who doesn’t know the password.
  11. An older child should be encouraged to use his critical thinking and intuition, and to anticipate, for example, slow-driving cars in front of a neighborhood or playground.

Remember, above all else, safety first. Prevention is the key. Develop a family plan of action for emergency and crisis situation. Practice and rehearse them with your child through role modeling


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.