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Cambridge Youth Commission

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Safeguarding Your Children at Fairs, Festivals, and Amusement Parks 

By James W Sweeney

What are some ways you can keep your child "stranger-proof" this summer? 

Families have more time to enjoy fairs, festivals, and amusement parks when children are out of school. As a parent, you know there is always an increased level of concern when it comes to the safety and security of your family while on an outing. 

Anxiety too much to bear? Don't know where to begin? Follow these easy steps to make sure it isn't just the kids having fun...you can as well!

Tell your child about the event before going...

  • It is important to always pay attention to who they are with and where they are at all times while having fun.
  • It is not appropriate for children to be left alone in the park or get isolated with anyone, even characters wearing costumes. 
  • It is important that they check with you first before accepting prizes, offers, or gifts from anyone.

  • You can ask them to let you know if anyone approaches them or makes them uncomfortable. Whenever anyone comes to take your children, ask them to yell “This is not my father (mother)!” As they try to get away from that person, they kick, punch, scratch, etc.
  • Upon becoming separated in the park, have your child go to the nearest Help/Information Center and ask them to "find my parents and bring them to me here" or, for an older child, make the Help/Information Center where you meet up. Your child should never search for you elsewhere in the park, especially in the parking lot, on their own.
  • When they go on school or youth group field trips, these rules apply as well. They need to check first with and inform the person in charge or a chaperone anything isn't right in case you aren't with them on the trip.
  • It is wise to caution them not to engage in conversation with anyone or provide assistance without checking with you first.

The best thing you can do as a parent is...

  • Make sure you understand the park's guidelines, especially those regarding lost children, before you go. Talk to your family about what to do if you become separated. Practice appropriate responses and actions with your children, and ask them which actions they would take in certain situations.
  • As soon as you arrive, get a map of the park, identify "Help/Information Centers" throughout the park, and reinforce the idea that this is where children can go if they become separated. Making an advance plan will greatly speed up reuniting with your kids.
  • If your child becomes lost, needs help, or is in trouble, speak to them about who can help them. A park staff person with a nametag or a uniform, or a mother with a stroller and children are examples.
  • It is never a good idea to let your child use public restrooms or changing facilities alone.
  • Children's names should not be visible on wearables, backpacks, or jewelry.
  • Your child should always have your cell phone number and emergency contact information with them.
  • To make sure you can easily locate your child in the park, dress them in bright colors (or ask them to).
  • Ride rides with young children in the park. Whenever older children are roaming in the park, they should stay in groups and take a friend with them. In case a young child gets on a ride without you, you should wait with them in line, observe them entering the ride, and immediately meet them upon exiting.
  • The authorities should be notified immediately if you notice any suspicious or inappropriate behavior.

  • If you become separated from your child, you should immediately report them missing. It is imperative that you describe your child in a detailed and accurate manner. It is helpful to carry a recent photograph of your child and be able to describe his or her clothing in detail.
  • Whenever you give permission for your child to go on a field trip, be certain that there will be qualified supervision from responsible adults.

When you share a safety plan with your family, you can have fun without worrying about a loved one disappearing. 


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