Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guest Post: 6 Ways Kids Change Your Personal Protection Options

Learning Realistic Safety Strategies is the first step toward taking responsibility for your own protection and well being, but have you ever considered what you would do if you had to protect more than yourself?

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, big sister, babysitter, school teacher or simply a caring adult, you may be faced with situations that range from challenging to dangerous when you have children with you. What would you do in these scenarios?

Scenario 1: You’re at the mall with your teenage daughter and her friends when a group of young men start making sexual comments to the girls…

Scenario 2: Your grandchildren are sitting in the back seat of your car as you load groceries into the trunk. A man jumps into the front seat and tries to steal the car with the kids inside…>>>>>>>>>>>

Scenario 3: You’re leaving a restaurant with your children when an agitated woman confronts you in the parking lot and asks for money…

Scenario 4: You’re babysitting at a neighbor’s house and someone starts trying to kick in the back door. The kids are upstairs asleep and you are downstairs in the family room watching television...>>

Scenario 5: You’re at the park with your two young children (one in a stroller and one holding your hand) and you see a man trying to drag another child into his car…

Scenario 6: You’re at a soccer game and your youngest son runs to you and tells you a man exposed himself to the kids at the playground. You have one child in the game, one at the playground and one with you…

Scenario 7: You're at a water park and your niece tells you a man groped her when she was in the pool. She points to the man and he is swimming in an area where there are lots of other children...

As you read these scenarios, the first question that may have come to mind is how you would divide your attention, resources and strength to choose the strategies that will generate the best protection for you and the children. You may have also noticed that in many of these scenarios, there is a physical separation between you and the children that forces you to decide between confronting the threatening person immediately and getting to the children to protect them first.

In scenario two, do you focus on grabbing the children from the back seat or stopping the perpetrator from leaving with the kids in the car? In scenario four, do you escape out the front door and try to get help, confront the intruder or go upstairs and protect the children? In scenario six, there are children everywhere that may be in danger. Do you call the police, notify other adults or run directly to the playground to protect the child who is still there? Do you take the child who alerted you, so he can identify the perpetrator or leave him where he is?

As you can see, adding children to the mix creates some complications that demand a higher level of decision making under intense pressure. Because there are an infinite number of variables in every scenario, it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly what to do. However, since we can all agree that there is nothing more important than keeping our children safe, let me help you put this issue in perspective and offer some guidance.

Group and family safety is improved by the personal protection skills that each individual contributes. 

We can begin teaching basic safety strategies to children as young as the age of three and building on them over time. They will need these skills for times when they are alone, but they will also need them in scenarios like the ones listed above. If kids have already learned some basic skills, the reaction of the family or group as a whole will be more effective and efficient.

Identify and confront the most imminent threat first.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

When there is a physical distance or separation between you and the children, you have to analyze whether the threat to them is imminent before you can choose the best defensive option. In the babysitting scenario, the kids are upstairs and you are downstairs, so if you leave to get help, the intruder is free to harm them or abduct them. Conversely, in the soccer game scenario, you have information that the threat is at the playground where one of your children is located, but the other two children are safe with other adults around. You may choose to alert the other adults as you are running to the playground to confront the threat to the unprotected children there. I also discuss the issue of physical separation from your children and how it impacts safety in my article about creating a safe room in your house.

Place the children in a position of safety as soon as possible..>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

If the situation requires physical defense it will be important to try and put the children in a position of safety, if possible. That can mean telling them to stand behind you, run to a safe location, get inside and lock the door, go get help or call 911. Scenario five is a good example. Is it safe to leave your two toddlers alone while you try and help the other child? Maybe, if you can keep them in sight or there are other safe adults around. If not…this may be a situation where the best you can do is call the police and get all of the information you can about the abductor.

Use a simple code system to speed up reaction time in emergency situations.

The last thing you need in a dangerous situation is kids who won’t cooperate, so part of your safety education should include a message about emergencies. Decide on a way to let your children know they need to follow your direction quickly, without questions or resistance. You might choose words like “code red” or you might choose and action like clapping your hands loudly. Just make sure it is not something that is used in every day interaction and you only use it in true emergencies.

Delegate safety responsibilities within the group.

In situations where there is more than one adult involved, it will be critical that someone takes charge and delegates responsibilities. You might choose to have the strongest person address the threat and others protect the children or get them to a safe location. When I say “strongest” I don’t necessarily mean physically stronger. The strongest person in the group may be the person who is better at controlling emotions or the strongest person might be the one who has had some personal protection training. If there are several people in the group, it is obviously better to have more than one address the threat. If older children are in the group, maybe they can get the younger ones to safety. Just make sure someone is giving direction. They should be yelling “Shelly, get the kids out of here” or “John call 911”, etc.

Keep a clear head and let your love for the children strengthen and guide you.

Having children involved in a dangerous situation can cloud your vision and increase the potential for panicking. It’s important to remember that you cannot help anyone if you are incapacitated. If the perpetrator only wants to take property, give it to him. In a situation like scenario one, where there is verbal harassment, but no physical threat, it may be better to simply walk away and report the incident to mall security or the police.

If there is a physical threat to your safety, you have a lot at stake when you are called upon to protect yourself and the ones you care about, so take a deep breath and let your love for the children give you the psychological and physical strength to prevail.

Listen in as Pamela Hill discuss the topic of child safety with Nicole Sundine on her Voice America Radio Show: Fear is Negotiable Business Survival Skills 101.

Nicole Sundine is the founder of Realistic Safety Solutions, LLC. After a lengthy career in law enforcement and victim advocacy, she decided to devote her future to teaching girls and women Realistic Safety Strategies they can use to protect against a wide spectrum of threats to their emotional and physical safety. Visit to learn more about Nicole and her work.

Copyright © 2013 Realistic Safety Solutions, LLC


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