Watching the video of school bus monitor Karen Klein being cruelly bullied by four boys makes me want to stand up and shout, ‘STOP THE BUS!’ Parents and teachers need to teach kids how to recognize destructive behavior, resist peer pressure, speak up when they see someone acting unsafely, and get help. School staff, including bus monitors and playground supervisors, need training and support to stop kids from engaging in bullying of anyone in the moment.
My heart aches with empathy for everyone whose lives are devastated by disasters. At the same time, watching the news over and over, feeling upset, and worrying about the bad things that might happen does not make anyone safer -it just makes us and our children more anxious. Instead, especially when things go wrong, we need to take charge of what each of us can do to keep our children and ourselves emotionally and physically safe.
Here are some ideas about what to do before, during, and after a disaster.
Disasters like the fires now raging in Colorado remind us that we are vulnerable, that the physical security of ourselves and those we care about is not guaranteed, and that our world can change in an instant. As adults, our challenge when a disaster threatens or strikes is to keep finding our balance. In this uncertain world, the truest safety we have is the safety we create within ourselves. If we express calm and determination as we take charge of safety in the midst of uncertainty, our children will follow our lead.
Download a free one-page Kidpower Safety For Kids On The Way To School Checklist about how to prepare kids and assess to ensure they are ready to make safe choices and get help while on their way to and from school, or anywhere else that they are allowed to go on their own. We don’t know what happened to Sierra LaMar, a 15-year-old, who disappeared March 16 and is still missing, but it’s hard not to fear the worst and to WISH that she had known these skills to stay safe.
The Walmart kidnapping video is a compelling reminder to parents about that an abduction attempt can take place in seconds even when you are close by. When a man attempted to kidnap seven-year-old Brittany in Walmart, her courage, fighting spirit, and instant reaction might well have saved her life, Lessons are to keep your security awareness in familiar places, teach children Stranger Safety skills, and prepare children to protect themselves from an attack.
So today I must applaud the announcement that the FBI and the Department of Justice have finally expanded the definition of the crime of rape to include the sexual assaults of men, children and any adult who cannot give consent to sex. Though I hate the idea that anyone would experience this or any kind of violence in their lives, it is important to define it accurately in our statistics, so we can work more effectively to prevent this terrible crime.
The Penn State Football child abuse case is a classic story of someone misusing his position of trust and power to abuse and coerce kids and of adults in responsible positions not taking action to stop him. The knowledge and skills we teach in Kidpower could have helped to protect these vulnerable boys from harm – and could have caused the abuse to have been discovered and stopped much, much sooner.
I’ll never forget when my son, many years before Gavin de Becker pointed this out in The Gift of Fear, watched the movie The Graduate and said in a horrified voice, “You told me this was a funny movie, but he’s stalking her, Mom!”