Keeping your children safe

Posted on August 8 2013 by Damon Garty in Parenting

In today’s times, we are faced with many more risks than we, as children, had to face. We, as parents, need to be aware of this. We need to take the bull by the horns because, ultimately, we are the ones to blame if something goes wrong.

I am going to outline a few issues and give you some food for thought. Hopefully this will change the way you think about child safety.

We as parents always want to keep our children safe. We think we are doing a good job and when we let them loose on the world at 18 the last words out our mouths are ‘Take care and be safe.”

How can we as parents expect that to happen if we have not given our children the right tools to do this and taught them how to take care and be safe?

Let’s go back to when we were children. I am sure you can all hear your parents saying this “DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS!!!!!!”

This is possibly the worst piece of advice we could give our children. I can hear you all disagreeing with me right now as you read this but let me explain why and I am sure you will see my point.

Not all strangers are bad. Let’s face it, the criminal element is the minority. The majority of people are good.

So let’s run this scenario and see how you feel about it?

You are at home with your child alone and you have a heart attack or fall and knock yourself out. What does your child do???

You have spent so much time telling them that they must not talk to strangers that they are not going to go out into the street and get you the help that you need. Yes some of your children might know how to call or use the phone for help but the majority of them won’t. So now you have a 4 year old who is running around the house with no idea of what to do or how to help.

So what can you all do? Run through the scenario with your children and teach them that if they are home alone and mommy or daddy falls and can’t talk, that they must go to a neighbour or run outside and get help or know how to use the phone and who to call.

How many of you have emergency numbers and family numbers next to the phone and at a height where a child can get to them? So play this out as if it were a game and get them to call the numbers on the phone and talk to a family member. This could be the difference between you seeing them turn 18 or not.

For those of you that have two children I want you to do the following. Take each child one at a time and ask them to tell you what a bad person looks like and draw a picture for you.

What you will find is that both children will have a totally different idea of what a bad person looks like and this will differ from what you think a bad person looks like. Children can’t sense things like you or I can because they trust everyone and are born innocent.

It is up to us to try and teach them. You can’t generalise because of a person’s skin colour or dress, so what do you do?????

Teach your child about feelings and what feels right and wrong as this, they will understand. If your child does not feel comfortable then it is most probably not right.

This next part is probably the worst topic for all of us: ‘paedophiles”

Did you know that your child statistically is more at risk of this with someone that you have let into your circle of friends or family? This threat starts at home and will happen right under your nose and you will be none the wiser.

Paedophiles come in various forms but I am just going to touch on one for now.

THE GROOMER

This particular kind will take his time and he or she will be close to the family. This is someone that is in your house a lot and is a friend.

They know what they want and don’t mind taking time to get it. For them the hunting and grooming is very important. This particular kind will often bring gifts, be it sweets or something else. They will gain trust with the child and often play games which have an underlying meaning and is all part of the grooming to make the child feel comfortable while being touched.

Bribery is often associated with this and the phrase “DON’T TELL YOUR MOM” comes into play.

So how do we deal with this???

Once again we need to teach our children and play the games with them and let them know what areas are out of bounds and what to do if it happens. Teach your child to stand up as soon as it happens and in the loudest voice possible shout “NO! DON’T TOUCH ME !!!” and then go find a parent. This may sound like common sense but you would be surprised as to how many do not know this. You need to teach your child that no matter what, you will be there for them and not get upset with them because a groomer will try to change the way your child feels about this and bribe them not to tell.

Only by playing simulation games with our children will they be comfortable and understand what to do in a situation. The saying “A dad is a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love” could never be more correct (sorry Moms I am not saying you are any less important because we know you are most important). We need to teach our children it is alright to come tell mommy or daddy and that you will trust them, support them and love them no matter what.

I am going to change the topic here as I could go on for hours: how many of you have an evacuation plan?????

In the event of an intruder in your house, or the house catching fire, would your children know what to do???

Play the game with them……if your hear the window smash in the middle of the night I want you to do the following…. run to moms room….lock the door….go to the bathroom…lock the door….climb out the window….climb the neighbours wall…bang on the neighbour bedroom window…..etc . Each house is different and you will all need to come up with your own plans but only if we practice this will our children know what to do in an emergency.

Try to create a safe room in your house. It can be an area where the family can gather in an emergency and wait till help arrives. For small children, call it ‘the chocolate room’ ( and make sure there is always chocolate in there when you practice this). A child will run as fast as they can to this room for the thought of getting chocolate. They won’t be caught up in the fear of the event but concentrate on the reward for getting there fast.

I hope this has given some of you food for thought. We offer training on a vast number of topics through our company and if any of you would like in-depth training we can have a chat.

The next free talks we are doing will be dealing with “Home Invasions and how to cope with it”. It will be held on the 22nd of August at 19.00 at the Fish Hoek Civic Centre (Minor Hall).

We will be teaching you how to keep yourself and family safe during a home invasion. I hope to see some of you there.