Today’s post is a special topic in response to the headlines in Colorado. Parents are looking for resources and this post is meant to deliver exactly that. Please share this info with anyone looking for answers on how to move forward in relation to this national tragedy.
In the wake of the Jessica Ridgeway abduction and murder, there have been many questions asked, like:
- How do we reconcile this with our desire to let our kids find independence?
- Do we let our kids go outside anymore?
- Do we toss it all to the wind and hover for safety’s sake?
- Do we go inside and shut the blinds and stay out of harm’s way?
- Can we trust people around us in our community?
These questions, and countless others, are running through the minds of confused, heartbroken and fear-filled parents across the nation. When parents ask me what I think they should do, I say:
“While I’ll tell you how I handled this with my children, it is best to consult a professional resource when assessing predatory risk. In my case, when my kids were little, I said, trust your gut. If that hair on your neck stands up, that means something. And so we we practiced. I let them interact with strangers on purpose to get a feel for how people interact with them simply so they’d be aware of what felt “normal” or a little off. And then I trusted them to learn from those (supervised) interactions.”
But my experience, while it may inspire, does not give me the authority for giving advice in this specific, danger-assessment situation. Real data and procedure are the best bet for handling this agonizing quandary.
Protecting The Gift by Gavin de Becker
A few months ago (as if by fate for this moment in reaching all of you), I was introduced by a mutual friend, to the trusted child safety expert, Gavin de Becker. His book, Protecting the Gift has been, since 1999, a go-to source for parents looking to guide their children through the riskier realities of childhood. While it’s not a light read (due to crime statistics etc), it is a practical, step by step approach (with actionable items), to guide parents in training kids to be independent in the midst of predatory dangers. Not only does he give realistic data on child crimes (so you can abandon unreasonable fear), he gives you a plan of action.
Key takeaways are that we, as a society must teach kids to get out there and give them time to practice specific skills that will protect them should they face danger. Making victims of the world does nothing for the future. Teaching kids to look people in the eye, having an emergency plan, talking regularly to strangers (vs. hiding away in fear)- and more-are factors that keep predators at bay.
Testimonials for Protecting the Gift
Ann Wolbert Burgess, Professor of Psychiatric Nursing University of Pennsylvania:
“Gavin de Becker’s Protecting the Gift takes a giant step in helping parents translate fear into positive action that can provide safety for their children.”
Ken Wooden, Leading Child Advocate Author of Child Lures:
“Gavin de Becker has done it again – this time for kids. Protecting the Gift provides practical solutions for keeping youngsters safe from the day-to-day violence and risk that threatens their world. De Becker is truly a modern day knight – a good guy who shares his intuitive and intellectual armor with us all. A brilliant lesson in prevention”
Dr. John Monahan- Professor of Psychology and Law, University of Virginia. Author of Predicting Violent Behavior:
“A rare opportunity to converse with a master observer of the human condition. Protecting the Gift is the antidote for every parent’s worst nightmare
Casey Gwinn- City Attorney San Diego, California:
“Gavin de Becker has captured the truths from real life stories that we can use to protect our children from the predators of our society. I will be a different kind of parent, spouse, and friend because of Gavin’s profound insights. We would need fewer police officers and prosecutors in this country if everyone followed the advice in this book.”
So, in this state of sad parenting confusion, I highly recommend reading (or re-reading if you’ve read it in the past) De Becker’s Book. It delivers the hard facts and line of clarity to get through to a logical plan.
You can also visit his website- visit the child safety section for Q&A on relevant topics, like:
How old should a child be when she starts walking to school alone?
I’m concerned about the safety of children in our township.
How can I protect my son when I’m not able to be around?
How can you teach a painfully shy child to speak to strangers?
As a teacher, I’m wondering about the best policy for safety.
How do I change what I’ve taught my youngster about talking to strangers?
About Protecting The Gift by Gavin de Becker
In Protecting the Gift, Gavin de Becker shares with readers his remarkable insight into human behavior, providing them with a fascinating look at how human predators work and how they select their targets and most important, how parents can protect their children. He offers the comforting knowledge that, like every creature on earth, human beings can predict violent behavior. In fact, he says, parents are hardwired to do just that. Click to read more.
Resource for Right NOW
This article, Helping Children Regain Their Emotional Safety After a Tragedy, is excellent. www.kidpower.org
Thank you. – Vicki