1. GIVE KIDS PERMISSION TO SAY NO TO ADULTS
This gives the program its strong foundation. It is important for children to have the support of their parents and to realize they have ownership of their bodies and minds. There should be no forced affection. Let them know that they have rights just like adults.
Remember what it felt like to have to kiss people you did not want to? It’s fake! If a child learns from their parents that they should kiss someone they do not want to kiss, then they begin to get confused about the proper limits of affection. If the situation arises when another adult tells the child to kiss or touch them, it makes it harder for a child to say no.
In your own life, make sure you honor kids. Ask them if you can have a hug or a kiss, rather than telling them or just physically grabbing them. Make it their choice – their decision. The better that they get at making decisions, the better chance that they will make the right one when Mom and Dad are not around and they are responsible for themselves.
2. NO SHORTCUTS
Any time a child takes a different route home, he or she is running the risk of being grabbed with no witnesses. The techniques that we teach for children to defend themselves against adults mainly focus upon denying abductors privacy, drawing public attention to the situation, and deriving help from other adults.
Make sure kids know that if they are ever grabbed, they must yell and scream “Help, you are not my mom!” or “You are not my dad!”. This will elicit a much more powerful response than just a call for help. Therefore, kids shouldn’t take shortcuts through the woods, backyards or side streets where abductions could occur with no witnesses. Encourage kids to take the same route home each day. This will help friends or parents find them if they are late. And develop safe zones with neighbors. A community needs to help protect its children.
3. IMPORTANT INFORMATION
All children should memorize their name, address and phone number. Parents names and work numbers are also valuable information to have. This is extremely important in order for kids to be able to tell the police, or other helpful adults how to get in touch with their parents. Make sure that kids know the area code as well, in case they are abducted and are able to escape to call home themselves. Teach specific drills for dialing 911 and 0 so that the kids know what to do in case of an emergency at home. Let them know how serious it is, and that it is only for emergencies. All children should memorize their name, address and phone number. Parents names and work numbers are also valuable information to have.
4. WHEN LOST
We all remember a time in our childhood when we got lost and were terrified. We have also all seen children screaming or crying in stores or witnessed panicked parents trying to locate lost children. Having a prearranged course of action should this situation ever occur is a wise strategy. If a child gets lost, teach them to go to the front of the store and tell someone at the register or a policeman to please call for their parents. Remaining calm is an important issue here. It gives kids confidence to know exactly what to do. Tell them to look for people in uniform such as a policeman or a cashier at a store. If you are in a store and you’ve lost one of your children, do not leave the store – wait at the counter or contact the Lost & Found Department.
5. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
Kids have a very highly developed sixth sense. They should be taught at a young age to trust this sense. For instance, if a child tells you that a certain person gives them a bad feeling and makes them uncomfortable, believe them.
If they feel that they are being followed or someone is trying to get them, teach them to go in the opposite direction.
Make sure kids know that they are never to speak to strangers especially passers by in cars. They can be grabbed too quickly. If they can hear the person, they are too close to the car.
Teach children to ignore people they don’t know who try to talk to them.
Teach them if they think they are being followed, to go to a neighbor’s house or into a store.
If someone tries to talk to them or grab them, teach them to run in the opposite direction.
If a car slows down or if a person in a car asks for directions, teach them to stay away from the car.
Make sure that you and all your instructors understand how important it is to tell kids that it is not rude to ignore people they do not know.
6. CHECK IT OUT
All parents lead busy, hectic lives – kids, school, jobs, and social lives. Do you know how many people I have had interview me and ask me what my qualifications were as an instructor? Or ask if I had ever been in trouble with the law and checked out my references? Only 3 in my 12 year teaching career!
That’s ridiculous! Parents can never know enough about those people who have responsibility for their children. This includes teachers, baby-sitters, coaches, preaches, other friends’ parents, anyone. Check into their backgrounds; their last job, references, police record and see how you feel about them personally. Do not trust a referral. Never let someone do your job for you. Do it yourself and do it thoroughly.
7. CODE WORD
This is VITAL! Make sure that parents and kids pick out a confidential code word! Maybe it’s not convenient, but it is life saving. Most abductions are done by familiar faces – friends, co-workers, even relatives. Teach parents to decide with their kids on a secret word that only the parent and the child know; something fun and silly like pizza, lipstick, zordon (a Power Ranger character) and tell them to make sure it’s something unique.
Make sure that parents leave a list of people that their child is allowed to go home with at school or at a friend’s house with specific instructions not to release the child to anyone else.
Teach children that anyone who comes to pick them up must have this code word. If a person does not know the code word, the child must never go with that person. No code word – don’t go – no excuses. The child should not speak to that person anymore if they do not know it.
Abductors will make up any excuse, “Your mom is in the hospital. Hurry let’s go.” Remember, no code word – no ride or talking- even if you know the person.
8. CHERISH YOUR CHILDREN
It is amazing to me that we have to mention this, but many parents and teachers do not realize that kids are like a blank computer disk. All they really need is love and acceptance from us.
Kids are perfect when they are born. All we can do with them is enhance their natural talents and make sure they stay safe.
If we were to cherish and love them the way we should, many pedophiles wouldn’t even exist. Being loved and nurtured as children, they wouldn’t be acting out that victim cycle. Abductors look for lonely kids at a playground or at a school. The ones that are the easiest victims usually get chosen. Let your kids feel totally loved all the time. Help them to be active and never needy for attention or affection.
9. NO PERSONALIZED CLOTHING
I recently took my son to his first day of school. He was the only one in the class of 28 without a personalized book bag, jacket or some other item. When kids get approached, the pervert is looking for anything – a game they are playing, a name that they can use to develop rapport. Remember every person’s favorite sound is their own name. That is why we use it so many times in class each day.
Recognition and familiarity. If a child’s name is called out, they may immediately let their guard down and start talking. Do not teach them to say “I can’t talk to strangers”; teach them Not to speak to strangers. Do not allow them to get caught up in a web of conversation. They are as good as gone if they start talking and get into a conversation. It develops a bond and also puts them within earshot. Some perverts may start whispering to a child, requiring the child to come closer so they can hear. That’s when they can get grabbed. Remember, NO NAMES on anything.
10. GOOD TOUCH – BAD TOUCH
This is a sensitive subject to discuss, but it gets very easy with repetition. If a child gets used to talking about this, it will then be much easier to report if it ever does occur. Identify that a good touch is a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the back or shaking hands. “Doesn’t it make you feel good when Mom gives you a hug or a kiss”? That feeling is called “good touch”. “Bad Touch” is if anyone touches their private areas where their “bathing suit covers”. Bad touch is also feeling that the touch is “creepy”.
Let them know if it happens that it isn’t their fault and they should tell the teacher, Mom or Dad, or any other adult that they trust. Overcome the stigma of talking about this subject. Let the children know that they can tell Mom, Dad or teacher if someone is “bad touching” them. Believe them and investigate. Discuss the situation with the child. Do not ignore the situation. Help them to know that they can trust you and that if such a thing happens to them, they are not at fault. This is an important step to the healing process. In most cases, kids are not capable of sexual fantasy. In order to create these images, most kids would have had to be exposed to some sort of pornography or have been abused.
*excerpt taken from SAFER SMARTER KIDS(sm) developed by Mike Storms.