By Samuetta Hill Drew
Last week’s article began a serious conversation about safety tips to help keep our children safe from those who wish to do them harm. Societal safety threats today have reached what appears to be a very dangerous low for both girls as well as boys. As the parent or guardian, it is your responsibility to teach your child survival skills without frightening them to death. It should be age appropriate, yet a serious conversation.
The information contained in this week’s article will come from a cross reference of professional sources who’ve investigated and written reports on this safety topic. It will review additional safety tips you should discuss with your child(ren).
Law enforcement believes that usually there’s a three-hour window of opportunity when your child must escape or be found. This is based on their belief the pattern for most abductors is the child is not immediately being hurt, leaving a small window of opportunity to escape. Discuss with your child(ren) the following:
• Reach for the car door and try to get out immediately if abducted and placed inside a car. If it’s a four-door car quickly jump in the back seat and get out.
• Teach your child not to be passive. They need to know different rules apply in different situations. It is perfectly fine for them to say “NO” to anyone who is trying to take them away. They should not be polite, rather begin shouting “Stop Stranger” as loud as possible. Some parents/guardians have opted to give their child a whistle with instructions on how and when to use it.
• Teach them to use the windmill technique or swimming technique. This means to rotate your arms in a big circle, preventing the attacker from getting a good grip.
• Teach your child that anyone who is not their mother, father or guardian should be considered a stranger if they are trying to take them away. Keep in mind that abductors are often someone whom the child knows. Often, they will attempt to build a casual relationship with the child, so stay alert and aware.
• Teach them if they are placed inside the trunk not to panic. Look for a place inside the trunk that comes right out when you pull on it. Tear the wires to the tail-gate lights and brakes. Hopefully a police officer might pull over the attacker.
• Teach your child adults don’t need help from a child finding a pet or anything else. If an adult asks for your help to find something, that’s your warning sign to yell, shout and get away immediately.
Other safety measure parents can use are to stop placing your child’s name on his/her lunch boxes and clothing; pay attention to threats; pay attention to changes in your child’s behavior and teach your child no one is going to harm you or them, so let you know of any threats.
Develop a family plan of action for emergency or crisis situations, and practice and rehearse them by role modeling and role playing. This plan should include several photos kept of your child along with a description of any identifying marks.
The most important thing in Keeping an Eye on Safety as a parent/guardian is developing open communication lines between you and your child where they feel comfortable about talking with you, regardless of the topic.