Back to school is a great time to review your family’s safety plans. Remember that we want kids to be able to be out in the world, exploring with safety and confidence. Recently, Irene van der Zande wrote this post for the Kidpower blog that includes a one-page checklist, “Kidpower Safety For Kids On The Way To School.” The walk to school is something that kids do everyday and is a great way to develop skills and experience that will apply more broadly in their lives.
A kidnapping can happen so quickly! On March 16, 2012, 15-year-old Sierra Lamar disappeared near her home in Morgan Hill, CA sometime between a text message sent to a friend and nine minutes later when she didn’t show up to her school bus. Police have arrested a suspect and are searching for her body. As our hearts go out to Sierra and her grieving loved ones, we don’t want this tragedy to happen to even one more child!
This crime is the fault of the attacker, not of Sierra or her family. While we don’t know exactly what happened to Sierra, it is possible that self-protection and personal safety skills might have protected her from harm. Before we let them go anywhere without adult protection, we must prepare all children and teens to recognize potential danger and make safe choices immediately.
Children and teens need to know how to: stay aware of what they are doing even while texting; prevent someone acting friendly and harmless from tricking them; be cautious even if approached by someone you know; keep out of reach of someone in a car when you are on the side of the road; and not to take a ride even from an acquaintance without checking first. The instant they think they might face danger, young people need to be prepared to immediately react by moving away, yelling, running, making a scene, and fighting to escape.
Whether kids are going to visit a friend, get something from the neighborhood store, or on their way to school, they need to be prepared before they go anywhere without adult protection. This one-page Kidpower Safety For Kids On The Way To School Checklist (download the pdf) that we’ve compiled for parents shows how to TALK with your child, WALK with your child, and PRACTICE with your child.
TALK together to make a Safety Plan so your kids will know:
WALK together to determine:
PRACTICE together until you are SURE your kids are prepared to:
Not sure WHAT to say or HOW to practice? Kidpower offers a positive, practical approach to teaching child and teen safety.
The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults gives step-by-step information on how to protect kids from kidnapping, bullying, and abuse and shows how to empower children and teens with skills for taking charge of their safety.