Every once in a while, my husband and I go over safety tips with our kids. I don’t know that the things we teach our kids are that conventional, but I believe in them whole-heartedly.
1. If you’re in an emergency situation – if someone is hurt or is about to be hurt, if something is damaged or about to be damaged, if something really bad is going to happen and you need a way to stop it, it’s ok to break rules. It’s ok to scream in a public place. It’s ok to cuss your head off to get the attention of someone who can help you. It’s ok to interrupt me if I’m on the phone. It’s ok to talk to a stranger.
2. If you’re lost or need help from a grownup, don’t look for a police officer or someone who’s wearing a uniform – find someone who looks like a mom, a grandma, an aunt. Find a woman. Go to a woman with kids. Look, my Dad is a cop, I’m not saying people in uniform are bad. But – I feel more danger from men who would hurt kids than from women. And there aren’t usually people in uniform everywhere you go. But there are almost always women and moms. I know if a kid came up to me needing help, I would do anything I could to help that kid.
3. If someone comes up on you and tells you to be quiet or they’ll hurt you, you scream your head off. Think about it – if you ARE quiet, they ARE going to hurt you. That’s what they want to do. What they don’t want is to be noticed by anyone else. You kick, scratch, scream, bite, anything you need to do, but you do NOT obey.
4. On the other hand, if they tell you they want your money, give it over immediately. Don’t try to be a hero. You just have to use your best judgment – are they trying to hurt you or rob you? If they just want your stuff, give it to them and call the cops afterward. If you’re in a store or bank and someone tries to rob the place, become as invisible as you can and obey the robber. Don’t try to be a hero and don’t try to outsmart the robber. Most robbers aren’t brilliant, practiced jewel thieves like what you see in the movies. Rather, they’re hopped up on drugs or scared they’re going to get caught, and their trigger finger is itchy. Don’t give them any reason to freak out.
I’ve tried to balance safety tips like this with “puppies and unicorns, life is safe and happy” – I don’t want to freak them out unnecessarily . . . but I would rather them be a little scared – and prepared – than naïve and unsure of what to do in a bad situation. Obviously, when we’re in these situations, we don’t always think straight and may not do any of the things we thought we would. But sometimes we can, and those things can make a difference.
Do you have any safety tips you practice, or have taught to your kids?