Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tricky Adults

Jack is the most paranoid careful person I know when it comes to safety (from burglars, rapists, scams, etc.)  He spent a couple of summers selling alarm systems, which added to his concern about safety (I'm sure his summer in the ghetto of LA didn't do anything to lessen his passion about it) and now that he is married and has a little girl, he is even more....mindful...of safety.  I have become a little anxious about it too when it comes to Olivia.  I think my worry comes from too many episodes of Law and Order: SVU.  Anyways, I came across this blog post the other day from checklistmommy.com and wanted to post it on my blog.


"Right after Diddy was born, I was in the car listening to NPR and I heard a child safety educator say, “Stop telling your kids not to talk to strangers. They might need to talk to a stranger one day. Instead, teach them which sorts of strangers are safe. You know who’s safe? A mom with kids. Period. Your kid gets separated from you at the mall? Tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees.”
This was fantastic advice. I have shared it with everyone who will listen, ever since.
[read the rest and get awesome checklists after the jump]


Last month, I finally got to meet the woman who’d said this brilliant thing, when I had the enormous good fortune of attending a kid’s safety seminar led by Pattie Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After. Safely Ever After offers seminars to adults and children on the subject of “keeping kids safe from child molesters and abuse.”
I didn’t seek Pattie out. I don’t spend every moment of the day worrying that my kids are going to end up in white slavery. But Diddy and Gaga’s preschool offers the material to parents of pre-K students as a preamble to teaching it to the pre-K kids, and Diddy’s a pre-K kid, so I went to hear what Pattie had to say. (And in light of all the Miramonte Elementary madness, I am thrilled I did.)
If it makes you uncomfortable to think about offering this sort of material to a 5 year-old, let me reassure you by saying our school offers an opt-out. But after spending a morning listening to Pattie’s presentation, I can honestly say I would have let her go teach my 3 year-old about “tricky people.” If the boys could understand it, I’d have her come over and talk to them, too.
And they’d like it. Really. I did.  Sitting around listening to all the horrible things that could happen to your kids might not sound like a good time — but oddly enough, with Pattie Fitzgerald, it is.
For one thing, Pattie knows her stuff, and I felt confident that her information was accurate and her advice studied and strong. For another, she’s pretty funny — so the material she presented never felt horribly gloom-and-doomy so much as matter-of-fact and manageable.
FOR INSTANCE:
  • It is unlikely your kid is going to be abused by a weirdo at the park (huge sigh of relief).
  • That said, if there is a weirdo at the park, he’s not going to fit the “stranger” model — so stop teaching your kid about strangers! He’s going to come up to your kid and introduce himself. Voila! He ain’t a stranger anymore.
  • Teach your kids about TRICKY PEOPLE, instead. TRICKY PEOPLE are grown-ups who ASK KIDS FOR HELP (no adult needs to ask a kid for help) or TELLS KIDS TO KEEP A SECRET FROM THEIR PARENTS (including, IT’S OKAY TO COME OVER HERE BEHIND THIS TREE WITHOUT ASKING MOM FIRST. Not asking Mom is tantamount to KEEPING A SECRET.)
  • Teach your kids not to DO ANYTHING, or GO ANYWHERE, with ANY ADULTS AT ALL, unless they can ask for your permission first.
See how I said ANY ADULTS AT ALL? That’s because:
  • It’s far more likely your kid is going to be abused by someone they have a relationship with, because most cases of abuse follow long periods of grooming — both of the kid and his or her family.
  • Bad guys groom you and your kids to gauge whether or not you’re paying attention to what they’re doing, and/or to lure you into dropping your guard. Don’t. Kids who bad guys think are flying under their parents’ radars, or kids who seem a little insecure or disconnected from their parents, are the kids who are most at risk.
SO:
  • Be suspicious of gifts that adults in positions of authority give your kids. There’s no reason your son should be coming back from Bar Mitzvah study with a cool new keychain or baseball hat.
  • Be suspicious of teachers who tell you your kid is so special they want to offer him more one-on-one time, or special outings. That teacher who says your kid is into Monet, he wants to take him to a museum next weekend? Say thanks, and take your kid to go see the exhibit yourself.
  • You know that weird adult cousin of yours who’s always out in the yard with the kids, never in the kitchen drinking with the grown-ups? Keep an eye on your kids when he’s around.
  • Oh, and that soccer coach who keeps offering to babysit for free, so you can get some time to yourself? NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.
And, here’s another good reason to add to the PANTHEON of reasons to teach your children the anatomically correct names for their genitalia:
  • There isn’t a child molester on earth who’s going to talk to your daughter about hervagina. Really. But if she suddenly starts calling it a cupcake, you can ask her who taught her that.
*
Ultimately, after spending an hour with Pattie, I felt LESS worried, not more. That, to me, is the number one sign of a good book or seminar about parenting — it doesn’t stress you out.
And you know why Pattie Fitzgerald and  Safely Ever After won’t stress you out?
BECAUSE SHE’S CHOCKFUL OF CHECKLISTS!


Prevention Tips


Because Knowledge is Power…


1. REMIND YOUR CHILDREN:  SAFE GROWNUPS DON’T ASK KIDS FOR HELP.
2. NEVER LEAVE YOUNG CHILDREN UNSUPERVISED…  NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE.
3. REPLACE THE WORD “STRANGER” WITH “TRICKY PERSON”
IT’S NOT WHAT SOMEONE LOOKS LIKE, IT’S WHAT THEY SAY OR WANT TO DO WITH A CHILD THAT MAKES THEM UNSAFE OR “TRICKY”.
4. TRICKY PERSON CAN BE SOMEONE YOU KNOW WELL, DON’T KNOW AT ALL, OR KNOW JUST A LITTLE BIT… LIKE YOUR MAIL CARRIER OR THE ICE CREAM MAN.  ANYONE WHO TRIES TO GET A CHILD TO BREAK THEIR SAFETY RULES OR HURT THEIR BODY IS NOT OKAY.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD.  IF THEY DON’T WANT TO BE AROUND A PARTICULAR PERSON, SUCH AS A BABYSITTER, RELATIVE, OR FAMILY FRIEND, DON’T FORCE THEM.  THEY MAY BE GETTING A “RED FLAG” SIGNAL THAT YOU ARE UNAWARE OF.
6. PRACTICE PERSONAL SAFETY STRATEGIES WITH YOUR KIDS: WHAT WOULD THEY DO IF THEY WERE LOST IN A STORE?  WHAT WOULD THEY SAY IF SOMEONE ASKED THEM FOR DIRECTIONS OR ASSISTANCE?
7. DO NOT WRITE YOUR CHILD’S NAME ON THE OUTSIDE OF ANY PERSONAL BELONGINGS SUCH AS A BACKPACK OR JACKET.
8. OLDER CHILDREN SHOULD ALWAYS USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM WHENEVER AND WHEREVER POSSIBLE.
9. “THE UH-OH FEELING”: TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS AND LET YOUR CHILD KNOW IT’S OKAY FOR THEM TO TRUST THEIRS.
10. ESTABLISH A STRAIGHTFORWARD FAMILY RULE:
NO SECRETS ALLOWED, ESPECIALLY IF IT INVOLVES ANOTHER ADULT.
11. LET CHILDREN DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES HOW THEY WANT TO EXPRESS AFFECTION.  DO NOT FORCE THEM TO HUG OR KISS ANOTHER PERSON.
12. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS.   CHILDREN WHO ARE STARVED FOR ATTENTION CAN BE ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE TO A PREDATOR’S TRICKS.
13. VOLUNTEER AT YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL OR OTHER ACTIVITIES. KNOW WHO THE PEOPLE ARE WHO ARE INTERACTING WITH YOUR CHILDREN.
14. DEVELOP STRONG COMMUNICATION SKILLS WITH YOUR CHILD SO THAT THEY WILL FEEL SAFE COMING TO YOU IF SOMETHING IS BOTHERING THEM.
15. TEACH SAFETY CONCEPTS IN A LOVING, EASY-GOING MANNER. SCARE TACTICS CAN MAKE A CHILD FEARFUL AND ARE NOT NECESSARY.

Ten Rules!
1.I AM THE BOSS OF MY BODY!
2.I know my NAME, ADDRESS, & PHONE NUMBER, and my parents’ names too. (Don’t forget: kids need to know their parents’ cell phone numbers!)
3.Safe Grownups Don’t Ask Kids for Help!! (They go to other grownups if they need assistance).
4.I never go ANYWHERE or take ANYTHING from someone I don’t know.
5.I must “CHECK FIRST” with my safe-smarts grownup for permission: before I go anywhere, change my plans, or get into a car even if it’s with someone I know. If I can’t check first, then the answer is NO!
6.Everybody’s bathing suit areas are PRIVATE.
7.I don’t have to be POLITE, if someone makes me feel scared or uncomfortable. It’s okay to say NO… even to a grownup, if I have to.
8.I don’t keep SECRETS… especially if they make me feel scared or uneasy. (No adult should tell a child to keep a secret).
9.If I ever get LOST in a public place, I can FREEZE & YELL or go to a Mom with Kids and ask for help.
10.I will always pay attention to my Special Inner Voice, especially if I get an “uh-oh” feeling.

Here's the link to her post so you can check out her blog yourself 
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