Keeping kids on The Safe Side

23 Oct

The Safe Side

Seven year old Somer Thompson was abducted, murdered, and thrown away with the trash this week.

There seems to be an endless barrage of tragic news about abducted and abused children. I don’t know if it is happening more frequently, multiple media saturation, or if now that I’m a parent my ears are tuned more toward news relating to kids. We try to regularly review our “stranger safety” plan and emergency plans with our kid, but the necessity of increasing the frequency and intensity of reviewing these plans and practicing our emergency plans is highlighted this week.

Somer’s mom told NBC’s The Today Show :

“It takes just a couple seconds to tell them you love them,” Thompson said. “Tell them you love them because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And just make them aware of stranger danger. I tried with Somer. I feel like I failed — obviously.”

Our little guy tends to be pretty black and white, so when we first discussed the concept of strangers, we found that people like his grandma’s friendly neighbors fell into that gray area and he would just totally freeze up and then freak out- not knowing how to handle the gray area. Because of our extra challenges in teaching our kid so he can actually use the information, I looked long and hard at what was on the market (and online) that could help us explain “stranger danger” to him effectively.

After a little research I found “The Safe Side” a program by John Walsh and Julie Clark (you know- the Baby Einstein lady). They do have a website, but the DVD really helps get the point across in a fun and friendly way, that even my kiddo could understand. It teaches what to do in certain situations and most importantly uses a simple “traffic light” system to help kids remember the rules.

We enjoyed the DVD and I highly recommend it to any parent (kids 9+ might find it cheesy or goofy, but it still brings the message home).
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Remember, try as we might, we can’t be everywhere all the time. Teaching kids safety doesn’t lock them up in an isolated tower, but rather opens up the world to them by giving them the tools to navigate it safely. I remember a time when kids roamed the neighborhood free and only showed up at dinnertime. We do not live in that world anymore and we, as parents, need to educate our kids in different and more intensive and extensive ways than our parents educated us.

Amazon carries the DVD for under $10 (Amazon purchases through this link send a tiny percentage back to us. Woohoo! Thanks in advance!).

TheSafeSide.com’s website also has downloads and printables for parents and kids.

The whole safety thing reminds me of the parable about teaching a man to fish and feeding him for a lifetime. You can isolate your kid and keep them safe (and miserable) by exclusion, or you can teach your child to be safe and you will help keep them safe for a lifetime. The murder of that innocent little girl and the interviews with her mom in the media underscore the importance of frequently reviewing safety information and making sure it is information that our kids can actively use. I am also reminded of all of the “don’t touch, tell an adult” rhetoric given to kids about firearms and matches and lighters and the hidden camera news reports showing the kids doing the opposite of what their parents told them. We need to make sure our kids understand and can actively use and recall safety tactics.

There is nothing neurotic about quizzing your kid before a family outing, visit at a friend’s house, or even using action figures to play out scenarios (we use Playmobil figures as they are pretty generic and equally sized- underscoring the concept that you don’t know who is good or bad or dangerous by appearance alone).

We don’t want to scare our kids, but we owe them, and ourselves, their safety. My son knows about Somer. Her mama sang, with others at a candlelight vigil, “You Are My Sunshine”. I cannot imagine what Somer went through, I cannot imagine what her mama is feeling. I cannot imagine a world without my sunshine.

A little girl named Somer died this week, at the hands of a bad/evil person. Her mother wanted people to know how beautiful and sweet she was and how she wanted to be friends with everyone. (from the NBC Today Show interview)

Let’s do whatever we can to keep kids from being a statistic and another tragic story on the evening news.

Hugs all around.
xo
Bek

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One Response to “Keeping kids on The Safe Side”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. uberVU - social comments - October 24, 2009

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by cleverindie: Stranger Danger: http://bit.ly/1Thx6V #somerthompson #strangerdanger #parenting #safety…

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