Strike for independence
On picking up Elliot from school he announced he wanted to walk home alone.
- Elliot: I will be okay. I will run to your house
- Me: But it is not safe to be on your own
- Elliot: I will check for cars
- Me: That is good but there can be bad adults around too
- Elliot turned his head looking up and down the street, ‘ there aren’t any and I will run very fast’
- Me : How about you walk ahead of Kevin and me. Then you can be on your own.
Elliot smiled and made a tentative step forward
- Kevin: Go on, you can go.
Elliot moved about 5 steps in front of us, then turned and ran back. The big expanse of empty pavement did not look so appealing after all, thankfully.
Dangerous adults can be known
Explaining to children that not all adults are nice is a difficult one. We know that abuse of children happens more within the family or from known adults than strangers. But strangers can be dangerous too.
When my daughter was 8 we were on holiday. She went with her teenage friend into the local toy store. I waited by the entrance. There were very few adults inside but many children were enjoying trying out the toys.
Then I noticed a man. He did not appear to be with a single child but moving around the shop watching one child and then another. At that moment of uncomfortable suspicion my daughter and her friend appeared by me.
I bent down and pointed the man out to them and said ‘ not all grown ups are good people, that man looks like he is following children he does not know and that is not right’. My daughter announced ‘ he was touching my bottom Mummy’.
The man appeared to notice this pointing and fled the shop. We left too and went straight to the Mall’s security office. A policeman questioned us. We described the dangerous stranger. A police watch was immediately put on the store via CCTV.
This man was believed to have returned, We were asked to go there to identify him which we did. He was taken by the police, charged and months later found guilty. He was a high ranking professional. It was not his first offence. He was jailed for a year and required to have counselling.
By acting immediately other children were protected from this offender. Listening to children and being alert are two very important parent and grandparent skills.
Last year a car was noticed by parents appearing outside the school as the children came out. Yet no child seemed to be linked to the car. Then a child announced that a man in a whiet car had offered her sweets ‘ But I did not take one’ , She has already been told by her parents that taking sweets from strangers was wrong.
My cousin, Isla, then regaled me of a story where she had seen her younger brother in front of her as she was walking home from secondary school. She was 12 and he was nine and at junior school. She saw him stop by a car she did not recognise. She was worried and started to walk faster. The rear door of the car popped open just as she reached the car.
- Isla: What are you doing Ronnie?
- Ronnie: I am getting a lift home in this car
Isla grabbed her brother and pulled him away. The car sped off. A grumbly grapple ensued with Isla shouting how dangerous that was. Ronnie could only think about the long walk home. As he got older he thanked his sister for saving him from a very risky journey in deed. One from which he may not have returned.
- Talk about adults
- Check out some useful website advice https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a1021927/how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-strangers. http://archive.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime-and-personal-safety/strangers.html
- Open the conversation as soon as language and understanding are adequate e.g. 3 years old.
- Have some examples to hand.
- Encourage them to use their loud voices to protect themselves
Read about body safety too https://www.nanhood.com/keeping-your-child-safe/