Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Safe Side

I wouldn't really describe myself as an over-protective parent. I am intrigued and sorta like the idea of Free Range Kids. But if I plan on giving my kids some freedom in the future, I need to make sure they have the right information and tools to deal with the real world.

So, for a recent Family Home Evening lesson, KC and I wanted to discuss stranger safety with the boys. I found some free amateurish videos on youtube.com but wasn't satisfied completely with the messages. I didn't want to scare my boys from ever talking to people. I didn't want them to run screaming "STRANGER, STRANGER" if an adult tried to talk to them. So I kept on looking. I found on youtube a preview of the Safe Side video called Stranger Safety. It is made by Julie Clark of Baby Einstein fame and John Walsh of America's Most Wanted. It looked sorta fun and interesting, so I picked it up from the library and we showed it to the boys. Not only was it educational, but the boys really enjoyed watching it. We had it for a week and Andrew must have watched it at least 8 times.

Inside there is a pamphlet with an article from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, by Nancy McBride. As a mother of two small kids I was surprised to learn for example that they don't actually support the "stranger-danger" message. The article also says:

When we tell children to “never talk to strangers,” we have effectively eliminated a key source of help for them if they are in trouble. If they’re lost they may be surrounded by many “strangers” who could conceivably help them if they would only ask for it.

This is why I liked the Safe Side video. Instead of teaching the kids to be afraid of everyone it tells them what to watch out for. It's awesome too that the video teaches about "Kinda knows." Statistically children are most often harmed/taken by someone they know. The video teaches how although the child may kinda know someone they shouldn't completely trust them unless they check with their "safe-side adults."

Mostly I like that it's not boring or scary, which is important in helping the kids to actually learn. Check out the whole article, it's not long, and if you want, check out the video. It might be a good idea to talk about this now in the spring before our kids start heading out to the playgrounds. I think I'll make it a yearly spring tradition in our family.


Brooke Bergin said...

That video is great. My family owns it--they bought it for my younger sister. I watched it a few years back. Now Emma's old enough to watch it too. Thanks for the reminder--I'll have to get it for my kids. See ya tomorrow!

Megan said...

The video and article sound great! I have a new appreciation for why they wouldn't support the "stranger-danger" message. Last year, a group came in to talk to my 1st graders about stranger safety. They asked them what a stranger looks like and the answers were all things like, "They're tall," "They have mustaches," "They have dark hair," "They look mean," etc. It was pretty funny but also sad that we don't do a great job of teaching kids what a stranger actually is.

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