Saturday, January 16, 2010

Child Motorcycle Safety

While parents work hard to protect their children, even going so far as to use a child locator device, sometimes accidents do happen. Many parents have motorcycles and enjoy taking their children for rides on these machines. If you take your child along with you while riding a motorcycle, there are some important child safety precautions and procedures to remember.
Where to Ride
Your child should always sit behind you. This is the safest place your child and the safest place for you to be sitting while driving. Although it’s tempting to let children “ride in the front” so that they can see what’s going on, it is extremely unsafe for you and them. When a child sits up front, the easiest place for them to put their hands is on the handlebars and/or controls with you never want your child to mistake as toys.
Rules of the Ride
Teach your child how to sit on and ride on a motorcycle properly. Make sure they know what and where to hold on to while riding. And let them know that sudden movement can throw your ride off, making it dangerous for both of you. Make sure they know to stay sitting down throughout the whole ride. You, of course, understand how exhilarating riding can be, but standing up on the back of a motorcycle is never safe.
Long sleeve shirts and long pants (denim if possible) are best. Leather is always great for motorcycle riding as it provides the best protection. Leather pants (or chaps) and a leather jacket is ideal for your child. Gloves are also recommended to help keep your child’s hands safe. Properly fitting and sturdy shoes or boots are also a necessity. Perhaps most importantly, your child will need a DOT helmet and protective eyewear. Polycarbonate plastic lenses are the most shatter-resistant. Another option is to have your child wear a full face helmet which can protect not only their eyes but their face as well. Dust, road debris and sunlight can be very irritating and harmful to young eyes (and your own).
Floorboards and Pegs
Most floorboards and pegs are designed for an average height adult passenger. You may need to alter yours or install adjustable floorboards or pegs to properly fit your child’s height. Otherwise, the highway bars on the back of the bike may be used as footrests if they match up to your child’s height appropriately.
Rules of the Road
Despite how you ride when alone or with adults, always obey traffic laws, especially the speed limit. Although your child may beg to go “faster, faster,” keep in mind that you’re the adult and you need to do what’s best for your child’s safety whether you’re at home or on the open road.
Lap Time, Not Nap Time
The sweet sounds of your motorcycle’s engine and that steady vibration may be enough to lull your child to sleep. Even if you have a sissy bar on the back of your bike, it’s extremely dangerous for your child to sleep while riding. The potential that they could fall off is far too great to risk it. Be aware of your child’s posture and body language while you’re driving. If you suspect, even for a second, that your child is getting sleepy, it’s best to pull over and take a break before continuing your ride.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Child Internet Safety: Networking Sites

Networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Hi5 and more are extremely popular these days – with adults and children alike. But you may not realize how dangerous these sites can be for your children. Networking sites may be the venue for cyber-bulling, cyber-stalking, child pornography, identity theft, or even scams and fraud. Just as parents want to keep their kids safe away from home with a child locator device they also want to keep them safe on the internet. The best way to keep your children safe from these dangers online is to educate yourself.

Cyber-bullying occurs whenever one person or group of people use the internet or other communication devices (like cell phones) to behave in a hostile manner toward another person or group of people. Cyber-bullying may involve threats and/or pictures and messages intended to embarrass the other party. Cyber-bullying may also involve hateful or racist words or images or even unwanted sexual images or remarks.

Cyber-stalking (sometimes called cyber-harassment) occurs when people use the internet and other communication devices to stalk someone and can cause a great deal of distress for the person being stalked.

Child Pornography involves the taking, distribution, or possession of sexually explicit images of prepubescent children. If your child is sexting (sharing naked pictures of themselves or others via their cell phone or the internet), they could unknowingly be committing the crime of distributing and possessing child pornography.

Identity Theft is basically when someone uses personal information to pretend to be someone else in order to access and steal money or other items and benefits. The internet accounts for the majority of identity theft cases today.

Scams and Fraud are running rampant on networking sites. People are creating fake “profiles” on these sites in order to lure children (and adults alike) into their scams and schemes.

The most important way you can keep your children safe online is to talk to them about their online use. Ask them what sites they like and where they “go” online. Opening the dialogue may be all you need to do with some kids. Once you’ve started the conversation, they may overflow with stories and information about their internet usage. But other children are more secretive and may feel like you’re prying. Be sure to let them know that you have their best interests in mind and are concerned for their physical and emotional welfare. Be sure to use proper internet terminology (above) when discussing the net with your children so that they know you’ve done your homework and know what you’re talking about.

Also, make sure your children know that it is never ok to meet someone from the internet IRL (in real life, that is, in person) unless you have approved of the meeting. If you do approve of your child meeting someone from online in person, make sure that you or a suitable adult chaperone is present to ensure the safety of your child.

The world of sexting and networking sites may be intimidating and scary for parents but it doesn’t have to catch you off guard. Educate yourself and your family about the dangers of the internet in order to keep them smart and safe.