For years, we have known that 30-minute "stranger danger" programs presented once a year are not fulfilling our youths need for safety education regarding the aforementioned. But what is adequate? For that matter, what is the real goal? To “say” children have been taught this safety? Or is it to actually save lives and protect the vulnerable?
Stories of child abduction, abuse and exploitation frighten both parents and children. Although it is natural for parents to fear for the safety of their children, there is growing information that prevention education works. Research has established that children can be given the tools and knowledge to be safer.
There are numerous programs available for children designed to help parents, teachers and community groups better protect children, and help children better protect themselves. There are DIY programs, free NPO programs, or pricey and flashy kung-fu type classes. But again, what is adequate when it comes to the safety of your child.
Here are few fundamental safety education theories and goals a community must address when teaching children how to protect themselves from abduction, abuse and exploitation:
- If we can improve the knowledge, self-confidence, and assertiveness skills of children, then they will be safer because they will be better able to recognize danger and resist potential offenders.
- If we can improve the knowledge, self-confidence, and assertiveness skills of children, then we will be able to deter many offenders who look for and prey on vulnerable children.
- If we can improve the knowledge, self-confidence, and assertiveness skills of children, then we can break the "cycle of victimization" in which some of those who have been victimized later become offenders.
- To enhance a child's ability to avoid victimization
- To enhance a child's self-esteem
- To reduce the feelings of guilt and blame that often are associated with victimization
- To promote disclosure of abuse and victimization
- To enhance and coordinate community response
- To enhance communication between parents and children about personal safety
- To reinforce adult supervision and protection
- To deter offender behavior
*Theories & Goals Provided by NCMEC
Safety Tip Tuesday (#CQISTT) is a weekly post that addresses child safety, ideas, concepts and fundamental approaches that help protect children from kidnapping, abuse and exploitation. Sign-up to follow this blog and receive updates. Written by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International