“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a quote attributed by many to one of our nation’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin
Recent news in our area communities of attempted or suspected child abductions should remind all of us to take extra precautions when educating ourselves and our young ones about “stranger danger.”
We need to do what we can to protect kids from abduction attempts and other violence by learning what to watch out for, by preparing kids with skills before letting them go anywhere on their own without adult protection, and by ensuring they have skilled adult supervision while their own skills are still developing.
Earlier this year, Dr. Gail Gross, a nationally recognized family and child development expert, author and lecturer, published “Safety Tips to Help Avoid Child Abduction” in the Huffington Post.
It is advice that includes: Don’t walk away with anyone other than a parent, or the person who was already arranged to take care of you that day; remember that an adult does not need help from a child - not to find a puppy, not for anything. If an adult is asking you for help, that’s a warning sign; avoid getting into a car with a stranger at all costs; and know the rules: what is OK and what is not OK, and have confidence to take action if you feel someone is trying to take advantage of you.
In addition, you want to teach your child techniques to avoid being taken. They include: The Velcro technique -- Make like Velcro: Grab and hold onto something and do not let go. Grab a tree, grab a bike, grab a stop sign post, or even grab a different adult, because another adult is not usually involved in an abduction; yell as loud as you can “Stop, Stranger!” - Teach your child that anyone that is not a mother or father is in the new definition of a stranger if they are trying to take you away; Windmill technique or swimming technique - Rotate arms in a big circle, preventing attacker from getting a good grip. This can turn an attacker’s arms inside out - which is a weaker position from which he could grab hold of the child; and make a lot of noise. Give a child a whistle on a necklace and teach them to blow on that whistle when they might be in danger. Bang on something, scream and be loud to call attention from others who might be able to help. A good commotion can frighten an abductor and shift the balance of power turning the tables on them.
In all cases, call 911.
There are many other prevention tips available and we encourage adults to study and practice abduction prevention with children.
Fifty years ago, few residents in our readership area ever bothered locking their doors at night. We need to realize that our communities are not the safe, quiet hamlets they once were. The communities may still be good, but there are a few bad people out there with bad intentions. Learn how to identify them and help prevent bad things from happening.
In the words of Crosby, Stills Nash and Young; “Teach your children well.”