Kidpower’s 7 Keys for Teaching Safety Skills to Everyone, Everywhere

Written by Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director

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In the past quarter century of teaching safety skills, we at Kidpower have learned that HOW we teach is as important as WHAT we teach. Our following 7 Keys can make a big difference in motivating people to want to learn about safety and in preparing them to use these skills in daily life.

  1. Stay calm  – because anxiety does not make anyone safer. Acting upset about the reasons for teaching safety skills just makes people worried and distracts them from learning.
  2. Make it fun – because children and adults alike learn better when they are having fun. Vivid, upbeat, enthusiastic teachers make learning joyful instead of difficult.
  3. Make it simple and successful – because simple actions and words that someone has rehearsed successfully are easier to remember. Break skills into small steps, and coach students in the moment so that they can be successful each step of the way.
  4. Be consistent – because consistent messages make more sense.
When everyone in a family, school, organization, or community has a common language and understanding about what being safe with people means, everyone in that group is better prepared to make safe and respectful choices.
  5. Practice – a lot! – because repeated, successful practice makes skills stronger and increases confidence. People are more likely to remember what they have actually done than what they have been shown, and they are more likely to remember what they have been shown than what they have been told.
  6. Make it relevant – because people learn a skill faster when it seems useful. Adapt rehearsals and explanations to be appropriate for each person’s life situation, culture, age, and abilities. Make a bridge between where students are and what you want them to know. Look for opportunities in daily life to remind people of skills and coach their use.
  7. Stay in charge  –  because leaders are responsible for the safety of those in their care or under their supervision as well as for ensuring that each person’s actions are safe and respectful towards others. Powerful, respectful adult leadership is essential in guiding both young people and adults to use safety skills in daily life and in protecting them from harm.

Want to learn more about HOW to teach ‘People Safety’ skills? Since 1989, Kidpower International has protected over 3 million children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, from bullying, violence, and abuse through empowering people with knowledge and skills. For information about workshops, our extensive free online Library, consulting, and books, visit www.kidpower.org.


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About the Author

Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director
Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe, the Kidpower Safety Comics series, the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults, and The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People.
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