Everyone in our small area of Queens is getting ready for the relaxing days of spring and summer. After a long, dreary winter we are looking forward to carefree days spent at the parks with our families.

This day and age it is important that we protect our children, considering that young students can walk out of a school without being seen or a sexual predator can harm them in their own school. We must teach them how to protect themselves.

The Polly Klaas Foundation has the following tips (children are never too young to learn):

• Never leave a child alone in public. Children have been abducted when they were left alone for a minute.
• Encourage children to use the buddy system. There is safety in numbers.

• Know your children's friends and their parents. Keep a list of numbers and addresses.
• Tell your children not to go with anyone, even a neighbor, without your permission. Teach them to check with you first.
• Know your neighbors. Teach children which places are safe and which people to seek out if they feel threatened.
• Know the times and routes your child travels to and from school and activities.
• Make sure your child knows his or her full name and address, including city, state and phone number, including area code.
• Make sure your child knows how to dial “911” in an emergency. They should also know how to use a cellular phone.
• Work out a system of code words to use if someone other than you must pick them up at school or elsewhere.
• Caution your children not to answer the phone or door when you are unavailable.
• Know whether your child's daycare or school screens its personnel.
• Teach them if they feel threatened they should shout “No!” loudly and get away to tell someone they trust. “No, Go and Tell.”
• Teach them the difference between a bad touch (in the bathing suit area) and a good touch (handshake, slap on the back). They should not feel embarrassed to shout “No!” to protect themselves.
• Teach your children which stranger are safe if they need help. “Low risk” adults include uniformed police officers, store clerks with nametags and pregnant women with children.
• Be suspicious of anyone paying close attention to your child (ex: childless men bothering Moms with babies using the ruse of being a “photographer”).

Above all, keep records! Please contact the Polly Klaas foundation at 1(800)587-HELP or www.pollyklaas.org for free Child Identification Booklets and information.