Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you and possibly your family have been exposed to the whole Daniel Morcombe saga. Thankfully it came to an end in recent weeks with the perpetrator being jailed for life, although that is still not long enough in my opinion. Watching this play out has left me as a parent wondering how do I go about keeping my kids safe?
My wife and I have had lengthy discussions on this topic over the years and for the most part we agree that for the moment, while our daughters are young, there isn’t too many opportunities when something like the Daniel Morcombe experience could happen. Nevertheless we still need to prepare for when it does become more possible.
I read a fantastic article on Michael Grose’s Parenting Idea’s website just the other day that I think is just perfect for the world we live in today. Let’s face it, as a thirty or forty something year old parent, the strategies our parents employed just aren’t as relevant today as they were when we were kids. Not that I’d take anything away from my parents and what they did for me, those rules are unfortunately seriously out of date. Some key takeaways from this article for me were:
- Never go anywhere with anyone without asking permission first. Ever – While it’s obvious and we’ve probably all taught it to a degree, we’re going to make this our drum beat rule; we’re going to go over it over and over and over again until it can be regurgitated word for word by even our youngest child.
- Personal space vs. safety zone – I really liked this one. The basic premise of the rule was that if someone get’s a too close i.e. within an arm’s length or in the child’s personal space, you teach the child to move away a little. If the person invading their personal space is acting strange or “feels” strange, then they learn to extend that to a safety zone, which is defined as 3 big steps.
- Stranger vs. strangeness – This was my favourite because it appears to be the modernised version of the lesson we all probably learnt as children, “don’t talk to strangers”. The author states that the original version might have our kids avoid looking for help in an emergency situation. It makes a lot of sense to teach children to be on the lookout for strangeness, rather than to just focus on avoiding people they don’t know.
If you didn’t see the whole article, you can see it here; it’s well worth the few minutes it will take you to read it. It has links to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, a terrific resource for keeping kids safe and the whole article was downloadable in PDF, so you can further discuss aspects of it with your children and friends.