BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The end of the school year means summer fun and freedom for kids across southern West Virginia.

As the sunshine draws kids to playgrounds and parks, however, they could face danger from predators. Experts say it’s important for parents to pay attention to their children’s whereabouts.

“Make sure, number one, the parents know where they’re at,” said Beckley Police Department Sgt. Dave Bailey on Monday, June 5, 2023. “Stay in contact with the kids. Make sure you explain to these kids, if they’re out playing, or whatever, don’t talk to strangers. Pay attention to your surroundings. Anything that may seem weird to them is probably a sign they need to be aware of what’s going on.”

Bailey said parents can keep their kids in a habit of being safe in everyday life, when they’re going to school or the supermarket.

“Always point out stuff. Hey, pay attention to the color of cars,” Bailey advised. “You know, if you see somebody strange coming up to you, you don’t know who they are, try to go to, you know, tell another parent or somebody else you see in the area. Just, be aware of your surroundings is the most important thing.”

Bailey urged parents to remind teens to be safe when they are driving during the summer.

“Leave the phones down. Again, watch what you’re doing when you’re driving,” advised Bailey. “Don’t talk on the cell phones, and, especially, if you’ve got friends in the car, don’t get distracted by what’s going on inside the car. Because once you get distracted with what’s going on, that’s when the accidents happen, you know, and people can get hurt.”