The world is a different place than what it was when you were growing up.
You’ve heard people say that but the realities of Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, and Za’Mor Turner give it more gravity. We may have grown up in a world where we could play outside and our parents didn’t have to give much thought to someone bothering us, but that is not the case anymore. People are brazen now. They have taken children right out of their homes while their family slept in the next room, as in the case of Elizabeth Smart or on the way to school in Jaycee Dugard’s case. Sometimes the children are found alive as the aforementioned were. Sometimes they are found dead as a countless number have been. Some are still missing as in the case of La’Mor Turner. In all cases the emotional scars for everyone involved are almost unbearable.
It’s a parent’s nightmare, but one we can try to prevent. Here are some things you can do to keep your child safe:
Talk About It
Arming your child with information is not a bad thing. The key is to understand what is age appropriate and what isn’t. Frightening the child away from playing outside and being a kid is not what you mean to do, but being liberal with information at too young of an age can have that effect. As your child grows and starts to gain independence introduce them to the concept of a stranger. Talk to your child about your connection to them and what happens when they are gone from sight. Make sure your child understands that impact of their actions and that will open the door to deeper discussions about who to trust and what to do in certain situations.
Stranger is a relatively nebulous term. Anyone that your child doesn’t know is a stranger. That could include your sister who doesn’t live locally or the policeman who lives two streets away. It is important that you talk about who safe strangers are (law enforcement, teachers in their school, etc.) and what strangers are dangerous.
Practice Makes Perfect
While belaboring the point about not talking to strangers can cause a reaction and make your child afraid of strangers, their behavior in a questionable situation must be discussed. Make a game of it. Run through some of the scenarios predators use, such as the missing dog or the hurt leg. Make sure your children knows to steer clear of those people, to never get in a car with a stranger, to not believe that you sent the stranger to pick them. Make sure they know to speak loudly and run away, using keywords to call attention to their situation. Children learn through play, so play act.
It’s terrifying to think that our children could be at risk, but this is the world we live in now. Prepare them at home so that they can walk confidently and safely in the world. No one ever wants to see a child in danger, help keep this world a safer place for all of our children.
The Law Offices of David Michael Cantor is Arizona's Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm. We handle all types of cases including defense of false allegations of sex crimes. For more information on David Michael Cantor and his history in Arizona law, please see their website.