The world gets more dangerous by the day
When I was growing up, life seemed pretty safe and secure. We lived in a small, rural town where most people knew everybody else, and you certainly knew your next-door neighbors.
There were lots of farms back then, and people looked out for each other, and for each other's property. (I remember several times when a neighbor would call in the middle of the night to let my father know that the cows were out standing in the road again, and they might get hit. We'd all go out and help get them back inside their fence.)
When school was out for the summer, once we had all finished our chores, we'd head out to ride bikes, go to the library, or visit friends, and we wouldn't be seen until supper time, but my mother didn't need to worry because the awful things that happen to children these days just didn't happen then. It was safe for children back then to be out of their mothers' sight.
Nobody locked the doors of their houses. Nobody locked their cars. Keys could safely be left in the car at night. It used to be a normal thing in the winter for people to leave their cars running while they ran in to the corner store for bread and milk.
Sadly, the world has changed, and it's no longer safe to do most of the things we remember when we were growing up.
With the child stealing, break ins, and home invasions (among other crimes) going on today, no one can afford to go about their daily routines oblivious, unaware of what's going on around them.
To keep you and your family safe, you must practice situational awareness whenever you're out and about.
Photo courtesy of Alex Proimos on Flickr
To help even young children stay safe around people they don't know, or don't know very well
One of the creators of this DVD is John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted, whose own son was abducted and murdered about 31 years ago.
This DVD is a fast-paced, funny way to start teaching children about a hard-to-talk-about topic, their personal safety. The main character in the DVD, "Safe Side Super-Chick" explains how people fit into one of three groups: "Safe Side Adults", people that children know well and can trust; "Sorta Knows", like a team coach at school, or the parent of a friend; and "Don't Knows", like the mailman, or a stranger at the store.
"Safe Side Super-Chick" teaches children several ways to react in various possibly-dangerous situations.
There are nearly three hundred five-star reviews of this DVD on Amazon right now, so it's a DVD that might be well worthwhile to check out for teaching your own children.
When it comes to situational awareness and personal safety, there are some things to do, and some things not to do. Here are a few things to get you thinking:
- When you're out running errands, keep your child with you, in your sight. Don't leave them in the car alone, but don't send them into the store alone either. It's too easy for somebody to snatch your child in these situations.
- Especially if you're a woman, if possible, don't walk alone at night. It makes me shudder every time I read about another sexual assault on a young woman who was attacked walking back to her dorm after studying at the library late at night. A campus will usually have some type of escort service available from Campus Security for female students. Make sure to take advantage of their services. At the very least, walk back to your dorm with one or more other people.
- Pay attention to the cars on either side of you when you're putting your bags into the car at the mall or grocery store. Pay attention to your "gut"--if something makes you feel uneasy--maybe there's a man just sitting in a van next to you or something--get out of there and head back into the store or mall. Wait until he leaves before you go back out. Better safe than sorry.
- Make sure your purse stays in your sight at all times. I'm amazed at the number of women who still leave their purse in the seat of the grocery cart, and turn around to look at the shelves, or even leave and walk half-way up the aisle with their purse unattended. Carry a purse that has a long enough strap to go across your chest, or that you can at least hang onto at all times. Don't set your purse down on the counter when writing a check either. Hang onto it.
- In the car, keep your doors locked, especially in the city. It's too easy for somebody to jump in and carjack you while you're stopped at a stoplight.
- Pay attention to anybody who might be around when you go to use an ATM machine. If something makes you feel uneasy, go back at another time to use it. Be especially careful using an ATM machine at night.
- Stay aware when you're relaxing at home too. Check before you open the door to someone, especially at night. Make sure that your children don't open the door by themselves, at any time of day. You just don't know who is standing there.
Photo courtesy of Lars Plougmann on Flickr
One more tiny way to feel safer is by carrying a personal alarm keychain. This one has an LED light too, so it's easier to find your keyhole at night, or if you find yourself in a particularly dark area when you're walking.
This personal alarm keychain looks like a car remote, so nobody will suspect what it actually is. If you get into a situation where you don't feel safe, just pull the pin up for a half-hour of continuous, piercing sound.
This very short, two-minute video, gives a few tips on personal safety when leaving a mall, what to do when out to dinner with a group of friends, etc.