RENO, NV - School and home are two places kids should always feel safe, but what about when your child steps out of those settings?
There can be danger lurking around every corner, even in our own neighborhood. Interim WCSD Police Chief Jason Trevino says it's best to always be informed and have a plan of action.
"Be involved with what your students are doing. Know who their friends are. Know what's going on in your neighborhood and around your neighborhood," he says.
One way to do this is mapping out a route for your kids to walk to school or the bus stop. That means not only using the crosswalks and sidewalks, but avoiding vacant lots and construction sites where there aren't a lot of people. Trevino says kids should always be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
There are also a number of websites and apps out there that allow you to track the problems in your neighborhood, like Alert ID, which is a free service that lets you access a map showing crimes and the location of sex offenders living nearby. Alert ID founder Keli Wilson says the site is constantly updating to provide people with the latest information.
"It informs you as things happen and people move into the neighborhood that you need to be aware of. The crime information refreshes itself every 15 minutes," she says.
The Alert ID website and McGruff mobile app also act as a virtual neighborhood watch by allowing you to communicate with other parents, police or staff at your child's school. Whenever there is an update, you will be notified by e-mail or push notification.
"If your child comes home and says somebody followed them home from school you can post the information either on the website or the app. That includes a vehicle description or the person's description. It then goes out to all the members within a 1 mile radius," says Wilson.
You should also keep an eye on who your child's internet use. Make sure you know who they're talking to and what sites they are visiting. Encourage them to tell you or another adult if they're being bullied by another student or harassed by a stranger.
"The biggest thing is just to get ahead of it before it becomes a big problem. We don't like the kids to let it build up," says Trevino.