Not all strangers are bad people. Unfortunately, when it comes to our children we are not going to gamble. Depending on the stats that you read, an abduction happens every 40 seconds. Another stat is that your child has an approximately 1 chance in 300,000 of being kidnapped. It is something that we should take seriously regardless of what numbers we focus on.
Our kids should be warry of any adult that approaches them, especially if mom and dad are not around. They should have a simple set of rules and a network of trust. You should set the players in their positions. That means you make the shortlist of people that are “safe”. Only these privileged few are allowed to make decisions in your absence. Your child needs to know your cell number, their address, and an emergency number before they go to school. Then on top of that you the dad/parent needs to take an active role in their safety. That means not just giving them rules but check on them. You need to lay eyes on your young ones. You need to communicate with them. By the way, just because you bring them with you to an event doesn’t mean they are “still” with you. This does not only address bad guys but other aspects of safety as well.
One time my oldest son and I were at the river. People were swimming, tubing, etc. There was a group of adults that had a little kid with them…maybe 5 years old. The adults were having a great time, but not paying attention to what the kid was doing, or how far into the water he was getting. All of a sudden, the went to deep and the current of the river grabbed him. He started floating away. My son was (12 years old at the time) was a lot closer to the kid. I hollered at my son to get him. My son dove after him and caught the kid by the arm. We got the boy out of the water and walked him over to his clueless parents. I said, “you almost lost your boy today”. I was furious at their “deer in the headlights” expression on their faces. What if we were not good strangers. They weren’t paying attention. We could have taken him with no effort and be gone.
This reaffirms that all strangers aren’t bad. However, parents have got to pay attention, and have a plan. If your child gets lost, can’t find you, or is in trouble, what have you taught them in order to be safe? Have you acted out or practiced some scenarios? It really helps.
When we talk about rules for kids to follow in order to be safe, what are they? Here are a few suggestions:
- Tell mom and dad everything.
- Secrets are bad between parent and child.
- Those who want them to make secret or keep info from their mom and dad are bad guys…no matter who they are.
- Anyone that wants to give you a present or a ride without dad or mom knowing is a bad guy…no matter who they are.
- Only YOU can deem a person safe.
This may sound so extreme, but I would rather start strict and adjust to the child’s maturity and understanding. Teaching your child that everyone is good is a bad idea. You need to be real with them. Trust me, they will be able to handle the information. A sheltered and naive child is an easier target. Teach them discernment well. Later, when they are able to make decisions for themselves and their families, it will be a gift. For now, they need to trust YOU, their parents. This means your yes should mean yes, and your no means no.
Being a parent of your word is being a parent that they can count on. It means that your discipline must be consistent. I have seen so many dads that are steered by the emotions of their kids. Your priority is not that your kids always be happy with what you say and do. Your love can be endless and your word firm. Learn how to respond to their needs over wants. This can be issues of contentions with your spouse. Thus, it is important to communicate well and discuss all the “what ifs”.
If you are a reader of this blog, you may recall an analogy that I gave of greyback gorillas. To protect his family, the greyback will not only fight the threat but will drive his family away from danger. Sometimes safety requires decisive and unpleasant words or actions. You are the dad. These are your kids. You have a job to do. Take it seriously. Blessings and safety prayers for you and your kids. Be the best dad possible.