Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teaching Children About Safety

Stranger Danger
Would Your Child Know a Stranger?
My husband and a friend recently took six children to a crowded Nascar race. If you are unfamiliar with Nascar, when I say crowded, Nascar spends a week proceeding every race constructing a small city in preparation. As the group filed to their seats my then 9 year old daughter inadvertently took a wrong turn. Once she realized her mistake my husband and everyone else were long gone and there she was alone among millions of strangers. Although this is a terrifying thought, I was surprisingly calm when I heard the story, because I know my daughter and I know how well she has been trained. In fact, she stayed calm and kept walking until she came to the next sheriff's kiosk. She gave the sheriff her information and it wasn't until she actually saw her dad that she began to tear up and show any emotion at all. Of course, God protected her, but He also gave me a mandate along time ago on how to train my children for an emergency. It was no accident that she knew what to do.

The Safe Side for Kids

God spoke to me before my first child was born on the topic of stranger danger. When my babies were young I made it my priority to find ways to teach them about stranger danger. We started showing our kids the Safe Side video when they were very young. It is a catchy video that explains stranger danger in a very non-threatening way. There is also a Safe Side Internet video that I highly recommend. The best part about the Safe Side is that it teaches them who a stranger is and how to talk to a stranger. Kids need to know where to go, what to say and they need to be coached to stay calm. A child standing alone in a mall crying is easy prey for a bad stranger, it is important to role play so that they will know how to stay calm.

Role Play

We have never stopped with just showing our kids this video. We talk about the video and watch it over and over again, especially when we are getting ready to go to an event like Nascar or an amusement park. We also role play what we learn in the video. I remember one year my daughter was going out to a festival with some friends. We did some role playing just before she left. I asked her where she would go if she got separated and had her tell me what she would say. She didn't need this role play that evening however the next evening we went to a block party as a family and low and behold she got separated from us.

She knew exactly what to do; this is probably why the Nascar story didn't freak me out. She has been tested. We also had an occasion in a neighborhood where a man was going door to door asking kids if they had seen his lost dog. My children did not even get close to him, they immediately ran to my husband and told him about the man. Although we do try to avoid situations where our kids safety could be compromised the reality is that we live in a big city in a fallen world. It might be safer to stay home all the time, but Jesus calls us to be a light unto the world. So we have chosen to train our children to be safe and go be a light unto the world.

Have a Plan

Not every situation is going to call for the same level of safety and not every situation is going to be set up the same. While we have routine safety in plan at home and places we visit regularly like the public library, there are other places that might be new or unfamiliar. When we go somewhere like this we have a safety talk. Our children know that if we are going to the public library they are to stay within my view and they are not permitted to just run off to the restroom or another area. If we go somewhere new, we may need to talk about the layout of an amusement park, what the workers are wearing and where to find the security officers. We have this talk first thing, before we get distracted having fun. This is exactly what happened at Nascar that day; the minute my hubby and his friend stepped through the gate they had a talk with the kids about safety and the layout of the stadium. That is in fact how my daughter knew how to find the sheriff. You can order the Safe Side video online or find it at your local library. Make a plan with your children today to ensure their safety tomorrow.
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