Thursday, September 1, 2016

Family Safety and Security Is A Mindset

Many years ago, while in a grocery store alone with our then 4 kids, my wife was trying to get one of the kids out of a bathroom. The child could not unlock the door so my wife left our 5 year old daughter with our 7 year old son. A lady grabbed our 5 year old and was walking her away by the hand. My 7 year wasn’t sure what to do (lack of training on our part) so he followed the woman. In the mean time, a moment later my wife came back to find both her kids gone and immediately told an employee who shut down the store. To the stores credit they locked the doors! By this time the lady panicked, let go of our daughter, and left the store before the lock down. My son grabbed his sister and was on his way back to Mom. I was at work when this happened and it shook my wife up enough to call me away from work. We talked to the police and it scared our daughter a little so that for a few years after this incident she was very leery of anyone she didn’t know. We then did some training for these kids and all the others that followed. My daughter is on a mission for the Mormon Church right now and she was telling us she and other missionaries are having nerf gun wars on preparation day. She is kicking everyone’s butt because she has been taught some basic tactical skills in shooting. It’s good to know your training of your kids is being used isn’t it?
Anyway, we should train our children anti-abduction skills so they will not be put in a bad position someday. I never called it anti-abduction skills, but that’s really what it is. The truth is, about 300 kids are taken annually. About 50 to 150 are killed.
Teach kids to get help if anything seems unsafe.
Help kids learn to interrupt you and other adults if they think something might not be safe. They can practice saying, “I see you are busy, but this is about safety. Please listen.” Adults can practice saying, “Thank you for interrupting me. Safety comes first.” Remember that children are most likely to be harmed by someone they know rather than by a stranger. Helping them build the habit of talking with you about problems will help keep them safe.
Use the word ‘stranger’ calmly and accurately so kids understand more and worry less.
A stranger is just a person you don’t know well. Everyone is a stranger to almost everyone else. Point out strangers on the sidewalk, at a park, and in magazines so kids learn a stranger can be a man, woman, or child of any age or ability. Teach children that most people are good and this means that most strangers are good. Although a few strangers might bother you, you don’t need to worry – you just need to use your stranger safety habits.
Make and practice safety plans for getting help.
Talk with kids about who they could get help from everywhere they go. Practice how to interrupt busy adults like storekeepers, librarians, or cashiers. Remind kids that these people are strangers, too, and you believe they will help in an emergency. Practicing helps kids take charge of their safety with confidence if you get separated at a park, fair, store, and other public places.
Teach kids the difference between being ‘together’ and ‘on your own.’
The safety rules are different when you are together and when you are on your own. For younger kids, ‘together’ means being very close by their own adults who are paying attention to what they are doing. A child sitting on the front porch while Mom goes inside, even just for a minute, is on his own. A teen in a crowded store is together with people who can help her. A teen in an empty part of a mall is on her own.
Teach kids about personal information.
Personal information is any information about you, ways to contact you, or where you live or go to school or work. This includes your name, phone number, address, family members’ names, the name of your school, friends’ names, etc. The truth is, sometimes we do give personal information to strangers: we give personal information to the strangers working at our doctor’s office, and a child might give a home number to someone working in a store if they are getting help in an emergency. The safety rule is that children should never give personal information to a stranger without checking first with the adults who are responsible for their safety. Teach children to walk away with awareness and confidence and without talking if a stranger starts asking about their personal information.
Help younger kids practice how to ‘Move Away and Check First.’
Stranger safety habits for young kids who are on their own, even just for a minute, include: (1) Move Away and Check First before talking to a stranger; (2) Move Away and Check First before taking things from a stranger, and (3) Move Away and Check First before going anywhere with a stranger, unless you are having an emergency and can’t Check First.
Help older kids and teens practice how to ‘Think First.’
Older kids, teens, and adults are safer when they think first before talking to a stranger when they are on their own. They don’t have to talk. Help them practice what to do If they choose to talk: keep responses short (“I don’t know,”, “Over there,” or “It’s two o’clock”), keep walking, and don’t give personal information.
Practice yelling and running to get help.
Teach children to use their voices and bodies to get away when someone is acting in a scary way. Explain that your voice can get the attention of people who can help you. Have children practice yelling “NO! STOP!” using a voice that is loud and strong. Have them practice yelling, “I NEED HELP” while running to a person who can help them.
Teach kids how to use physical self-defense in an emergency.
Strong resistance can stop most assaults. Young people often fear getting in trouble for fighting, or they don’t know how to use their bodies to resist. They need to know when and how to fight to protect themselves. Explore the option of age-appropriate self-defense training. Explain that fighting is a last resort for getting away from a dangerous situation, and not to be used just because you are upset with someone. However, if someone is about to harm you and you cannot leave or get help at first, your safety plan is to hit, kick, bite, pinch, and yell until you can get away and get help.
Teach these Golden Rules
RULE 1: Let grown-ups help other grown-ups.
RULE 2: Always draw attention.
RULE 3: Get away and always tell an adult what has happened.
Other things to remember are:
Never leave home without your permission. Very small children should play only in areas away from the street, such as a backyard, or in a play area supervised by a responsible adult.
Never wander off, to avoid lonely places, and to avoid shortcuts through alleys or deserted areas. They are safer walking or playing with friends.
Come straight home from school or play unless you have made other arrangements.
Never enter anyone's home without your parent’s approval.
Again, scream, run away and tell your parents or a trusted adult if anyone attempts to touch or grab you, of if a stranger offers you a ride.
Never give any information over the telephone including your name and address, or indicate you are alone.
Keep doors locked and admit only authorized people into the house.
Have a secret code word that someone can give so you will know they are safe.
Teaching your children and family how to be safe and secure is as important as teaching self-defense. If these things are presented in the right way, and often, your family will be confident in their security and better prepared for the world. This information is not just for small children but older kids, pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults.
Teaching your family to be a hard target will give a defensive mindset that will serve them throughout their lives.
Semper Paratus
Check 6