Safety isn’t something that a parent wants to think about, but the world can be a scary place and it’s something that parents need to consider, unfortunately. No one wants to think about going out for a family outing and losing track of a child or even worse, returning home without your child. It’s a daunting prospect; with child trafficking posts all over the internet, it’s too easy for those dark prospects to become legitimate fears. So what is a family to do? Here are some safety tips to consider to keep your family safe.
Before I get into tips for warding against these worst-case scenarios, here’s a little about me. I’ve been involved in martial arts for eight years, the last five I have been serious about it and work with children a lot. At my martial arts studio Herb Blue’s Total Self Defense, referred to as a dojo; we’re a family-first facility and also host child safety seminars called Best Defense for Kids. They have been on hold because of COVID but hopefully will be starting up again soon. In the meantime, our classes are in full swing and we even have a new facility focusing on youth and children.
At Herb Blue’s Total Self Defense I hold three belts in three separate styles. I study a ground sparring technique called Arnis Jitsu, this style is similar to Ju Jitsu, a hand-to-hand combat technique called Wu Ying Tao, similar to Karate, and my favorite, a weapons technique called Modern Arnis, where I train with rattan sticks and edged weapons. My dojo also focuses on empowering their students and self-defense for women and children.
Let’s first talk about a common fear that parents have: that talking about these things with and teaching the safety tips to their children will make them anxious or scare them. Our classes at the dojo are full of giggles and fun, we convey the serious nature of what we’re teaching in a relaxed way. Children are more likely to retain the information if they have fun doing it, no matter what they’re being taught. Some of this may seem daunting or off-putting, but it’s one of those things we keep in our back pocket and hope we never use. Like that condom you carried in your wallet or purse, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
5 Safety Tips For Your Family:
The first tip for family safety is when leaving the house, take a picture of your kiddos in their clothes, if they need to change clothes take a new picture. This will be useful if your kids wander off and you need to give a description of what they were wearing, remembering what your child was wearing that morning is probably going to be the last thing on your mind if you lose track of your child. Having a picture handy will do a world of good and if your kiddo is anything like I was, they were just hiding and being mischievous. I used to hide in the middle of clothes racks and give my mother a heart attack.
Taking this one step further, I highly suggest keeping a folder of distinguishing marks on your kiddo, like birth marks or scars. It’s a great thing to have if it’s ever needed, my daughter is only 8 months old and I have a picture of her birthmark on my phone.
Setup a password for older children, this is more for school-age children. This wards against anyone who comes to school tells your child that mommy and daddy have been in an accident, they’re here to help and to bring them to the hospital or a family’s home.
There are a few things to consider with this, you need to make sure that your kid remembers the password and remembers to ask for it. I suggest asking for it when picking them up from school, just to get in the habit of it, do this every day for a week or two and then taper it off and ask once a week or so. This doesn’t have to be scary, it can be something that makes them giggle and you can make a game out of it.
The other thing is that anyone who could possibly need to pick up your child in any sort of scenario needs to be aware of the password. Your kids also need to know that they are not to go with anyone unless they’re given the password.
What happens if your kids are approached by a stranger, do they scream their heads off and hope that someone comes to the rescue? We’ve all been out in public and seen kids screaming and defying mom or dad, this tactic is unlikely to attract attention.
What they say is very important, rather than screaming “no” or “let me go,” screaming something like “call 911” or “you’re not my mommy/daddy” is far more likely to illicit a positive response from surrounding adults, things like “fire” and “stop bullying me” are also great.
If an adult is trying to bodily move your child, fighting dirty is the best tactic, things like biting and scratching. Without getting into maneuvers that hard to describe, we highly recommended going for sensitive parts of the body like a knee to the groin or scratching the face. This is not to be used on siblings or on caregivers/parents for any reason.
If they’re removed from their parents and manage to get away, what do they do next? We tell kids to find an adult in charge, someone like a teacher, a police officer, or someone in uniform. Once they get to that adult it’s helpful if they’re able to describe the person, this can again be turned into a game. Similar to the password, do this on a regular basis, ask them to describe someone that’s not in their current view. Ask them to describe their teacher, what were they wearing, what color is their hair, are they short or tall?
Safety tips are also for older children. When they strike out on their own, how do they handle creepers? When they start driving, what do they do if someone is following them? This is for anyone and everyone. If you’re driving home and you notice a car following you, don’t go home, especially if there’s no one home. If you can, drive to a police station. If not, drive somewhere public and call 911.
If you’re on foot and you notice a car slowing down or following your route, don’t engage with them, if they try to talk to you ignore them. Take a different route, it’s always a good idea to take different routes for walks or runs, know different ways to get home, if someone can’t predict you’re going to always turn left on Monroe then it’s harder for them to anticipate where you’re going. If you can, call someone to come pick you up if you run into a creeper who won’t quit (and again if they won’t go away go somewhere as public as possible).
If you’re parked and you notice that a van, especially a panel van is parked next to your driver’s side door get in on the passenger side. Also, try to park under or near a light if you’re going to be getting back into the car after nightfall.
This is more for parents and for your kids after they’ve left the nest. I don’t recommend pepper spray, you’re far more likely to end up spraying yourself in the face than your assailant, also if you get pepper spray not meant for civilians it could do more harm than good.
Regarding weapons in general, I don’t recommend them unless you’re comfortable with them. I have my conceal carry permit, however, I don’t intend to carry a gun at this time, it’s so I can carry a retractable baton because I train with sticks. When it comes to conceal carry permits, you get what you pay for, I highly recommend private classes over group classes. In the state of Wisconsin, you can get a permit just by watching a PowerPoint presentation. With one on one classes, you’ll get actual experience with a gun.
In all honestly, weapons are more likely to be a liability than an asset, anything you carry can be used against you just as easily as against your potential assailant. I do recommend self-defense classes, especially for women and young girls.
These are just some ideas to think about, hopefully, it helps and you never need to use any of these safety tips.
More from Jennie: Tips for Setting Boundaries with Family with A New Baby