Many families take great pains to select a home where they can raise a family. They not only choose a house that has plenty of bedrooms and a large, fenced yard, but they also look for properties in highly-ranked school districts and search for neighborhoods that seem to offer the best chance of safety (such as those in a gated community, for example).
However, even with all of these items checked off your list, there could still be hazards lurking in your neighborhood that might affect the health and safety of your children.
Whether you’re looking to purchase a property or you want to make a safe neighborhood for kids (and who doesn’t!), here are 7 tips that can help.
1. Check crime rates before moving
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Prevention is always better than cure. You can find a number of online tools that can provide crime rate statistics for neighborhoods across America. The one I really like is city-data.com. Most of the data is free and you can find annual crime rates and also links to recent newspaper articles and forum posts. There’s also crimereports.com which maps recent crime in your neighborhood by type, but they’ve gone offline since we originally wrote this article. An alternative is Crime Mapping.
2. Check the registered sex offenders list
Everybody deserves a second chance, but honestly I wouldn’t want a registered sex offender as my kids’ neighbor. If you’re buying a home, it’s something you definitely need to check. You can perform a free search on familywatchdog.us. It will show you the type of offense, the address of the offender and even their photograph.
3. Cul-de-sac streets are safer
These dead-end streets make for some of the safest neighborhoods for kids because the incidence of stray traffic is almost unheard of. Without a through-street, there’s really no reason for random drivers to pass through, so danger from strangers or speeding drivers is lower than other neighborhoods.
In addition, it’s easy to get to know all the neighbors and form a tight-knit, local community where everyone watches out for each other.
4. Neighborhood watch program
One of the best ways to ensure the safety of all the kids in a neighborhood is to set up a neighborhood watch program. Often, just having placards posted in windows is enough to keep the criminal element at bay. But having stay-home parents keeping an eye on the neighborhood couldn’t hurt.
When kids know which houses to run to in the event of an emergency, there’s a much better chance that they’ll come out of such situations with less harm.
5. Speed bumps
You probably have speed limit signs posted in and around your neighborhood. They don’t always stop people from barreling down a road with no traffic, even if it is residential.
For this reason, you might want to petition the city to put in speed bumps. You can find an ehow article about how to do this here.
If this fails, you can coordinate with neighbors to post warning signs. They need to be seen when kids are commonly out and about, walking to and from school or playing with friends.
Many of these sandwich boards are large, brightly colored, and shaped like kids, and they often feature flags to catch the attention of drivers. Most of them also bear a phrase like “Slow down, children at play” or something similar. The one pictured is very reasonably priced on Amazon.
6. Closed Circuit TV
Many cities use closed-circuit television (or surveillance cameras that send video feeds to a central location) to monitor traffic and watch for potential hazards.
If the residents in your neighborhood agree that there are serious safety issues affecting children, you may be able to get everyone on board with installing such a system for your community’s neighborhood watch or HOA to monitor as a way to increase the safety of the entire area.
It’s actually a lot cheaper than most people think. You can get a top-rated CCTV camera without breaking the bank.
7. Parental supervision
Perhaps the best way to keep kids safe in any neighborhood is for parents to take responsibility and keep an eye on their children. When kids are allowed to run around unattended, there’s always the possibility that they could start trouble, or that it could find them.
S,o don’t let your kids run wild looking for things to do wherever you live. Instead, supervise their activities to make sure they behave in a safe manner.
Always ensure there is someone responsible (ideally you) to deal with issues that might threaten their safety.