What is People Safety?

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

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People often ask, “What exactly do you teach in Kidpower? Anti-bullying? Stranger Danger? Some kind of martial art?”

We call what we teach “People Safety”, which means people being safe with and around people. People Safety skills prepare us to take charge of the emotional and physical safety and well-being of ourselves and others. Just as a greater level of physical health can protect you from all kinds of diseases, so can strong People Safety” knowledge protect you from most bullying, sexual abuse, kidnapping, and other emotional and physical violence. Having both excellent physical health and strong People Safety skills can make our lives much more enjoyable.

Fire Safety does not just mean “burning prevention” – Fire Safety means that you can use fire for heat, cooking, and fun. Water Safety doesn’t just mean ‘drowning prevention” – it means being able to swim and enjoy the water. And “People Safety” does not just mean avoiding danger with people – it means having joyful relationships and interactions with oneself and others.

At different times in our lives, we might find ourselves in different situations, need different kinds of help, and be able to do different kinds of things. In Kidpower, individuals of all ages, abilities, cultures, and walks of life have found that People Safety skills and concepts prepare them to:

  • Develop healthy relationships
  • Advocate effectively for the well-being of themselves and others
  • Act as powerful respectful leaders
  • Protect themselves from most bullying, harassment, molestation, assault, exploitation, abduction, and other kinds of violence

The Kidpower definition of People Safety includes:

  • Believing that everyone has the right to be emotionally and physically safe – including ourselves
  • Knowing what is safe and what is not safe
  • Communicating effectively about what we do want and what we do not want
  • Taking charge of safety when experiencing or witnessing disrespectful, abusive, threatening, or violent behavior.
  • Being persistent in asking for help
  • Knowing how to protect our feelings and our bodies if others act in thoughtless, mean, scary, unsafe, or dangerous ways
  • Staying in charge of what we say and do so that we make safe, respectful choices

The tools of People Safety taught by Kidpower include:

  • Self-protection skills to prevent most trouble
  • Safety plans to prepare for the unexpected
  • Boundaries and advocacy to build better relationships
  • Interventions to notice and address disrespectful or unsafe behavior by speaking up and/or getting help.
  • Self-defense skills to stop most emergencies

Kidpower’s goal is to bring high quality People Safety education to as many people as possible, especially those who are most vulnerable, in order to achieve our vision of working together to create cultures of caring, respect, and safety for all.

Kidpower provides a wealth of resources to promote and teach People Safety skills through our method of empowering effective hands-on practice. These include our:


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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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