Archive for the ‘child safety’ Category

How the Predator “Grooms” a Child via Computer

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

We know it happens; we hear about it in the news way too often. But what exactly does it mean that a sexual predator “groomed” a child over a period of months? How do they do that? What about the kid–were they just naive? Gullible? Stupid?? Can’t they tell when someone’s trying to pull one over on them? What are the child’s parents doing all this time? Aren’t they paying attention? Maybe they’re too busy. You want to protect your kids and need to know the scoop. So, let’s get real here, okay? Okay, this is real:

Sara, now 17, opened up an account on a popular social networking site when she was 12. All the kids in middle school had one, but even so, her mom was taking no chances. She made sure Sara used the computer in the family room, rather than have a laptop in her bedroom. She installed filtering systems and used the parental controls to block access to “unsavory” websites. She employed a tracking program so she would know every step Sara took online. And she warned Sara not to trust anyone she didn’t know personally, because there were dangerous people on the internet who preyed on the innocent. She did everything right to protect her child.

Sara recalls, “For the first few months, I only talked to my friends online because Mom had asked me to stay safe,’ she says. ‘But then, I accepted the request from a guy I didn’t know to become his ‘friend’ online because I could see we had mutual friends on the website.” (What she didn’t realize was that none of her friends knew him either. They just “friended” him because he asked.)

She continues: “They hadn’t mentioned anything bad about him, so I thought it would be all right to talk to him, and we started chatting online every evening. Whenever I was on the internet he would be there, asking about my day and what I’d done at school.”

Right there. That’s how it happened. Sexual predators are some of the sneakiest, cleverest, most manipulative criminals out there. And this one smoothly convinced a 12-year-old girl to let him into her home and into her life. Sara explains, “I really believed that he was my friend and that I could trust him – he made me feel so secure.”

After a few months of benignly chatting about school, he began to ask her more personal questions–sexual questions. Then, questions turned to requests for her to perform sex acts in front of her webcam technology. She says,”He started pressuring me. I was so naive that I felt I had to do these things for him because he’d been such a support to me. I didn’t want to, but whenever I said no, he’d say: ‘Nobody has to know.'”

When Sara realized that something wasn’t right about her “friend,” she attempted to escape the relationship. “I tried to avoid talking to him but… he followed me to other websites. Whenever I set up a profile on a different social network, he’d find me there. He was really persistent.” Worse, now that she’d angered him, she feared for her own safety. In their early days of getting to know one another, she’d told him where she lived–in spite of her mother’s warnings not to reveal any personal information on the internet. She worried that he would find her and harm her.

Sara’s mother watched as her child deteriorated. She couldn’t sleep and refused to eat; she became irritable and withdrawn.  Finally, in despair, she revealed to her mom what had been happening, and they immediately went to the police. The predator was arrested, tried, and imprisoned. But Sara still suffers the consequences of his actions. Due to falling victim to a sexual abuser, she has a strong distrust of strangers, she is unable to make eye contact when speaking, and most of all, experiences a pervasive fear and sense of loss of control. And this is a girl whose mom did everything right.

So what can you do? Ban your kids from using a computer? That’s going to be tough, since schools have students doing internet research for homework as early as 1st grade, and even preschools are bringing computers into their classrooms for 3-year-olds to become familiar with. Just keep checking in with your kids, standing over their shoulder when they’re at the keyboard (they love that!) and asking, “Who’s that? How do you know him/her?” Find out who they’re talking to. Go over everyone on their “friends” list; if there’s someone who you think doesn’t belong there, delete them–and check to make sure they don’t come back. If someone is communicating with your child and you think they shouldn’t be, or that the communication is inappropriate, don’t take chances with your child’s well-being. Contact the police. Nothing matters more than keeping your child safe from some of the sneakiest, cleverest, most manipulative criminals out there.

 

 

For more on this story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1257088/As-Facebook-stalker-Peter-Chapman-jailed-truly-chilling-story-.html

 

 

 

911 Call Can Save Your Child’s Life – Or Yours

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

In Norwalk, California, 3 attackers entered a family home, pointed guns at the parents, and declared their intentions to take whatever they wanted. The 7-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister hid in a bathroom upstairs. From there, the boy (whose first name is Carlos) called 911 and told the dispatcher that someone “is going to kill my mom and dad” and to “bring cops–a lot of them!”

The suspects discovered the children in the bathroom and demanded to know who they had called. When Carlos answered, “911,” they realized that police were on the way and they ran–without stealing anything but, more important, without hurting anyone.

One of the first things we do in my radKIDS classes is teach the children how to call 911. We tell them it’s a special phone number for them to use if they’re ever in danger or see something dangerous. It’s an important skill for your child to know, because one day they might have to report a fire at a neighbor’s house or a car accident down the street. They could even save your life.

I’ve had parents come up to me at radKIDS and say,”I’m so glad you covered this! I wanted them to know how to call 911, but I was worried we’d actually end up calling the police to our house.” So, how best to educate your child in using their special, emergency-only number?

If you use your home phone, can you be sure to hang up before the call actually goes through to 911?  Having 2 or 3 squad cars pull up in front of your house for a false alarm is one way to show your kids that calling 911 will bring the police–but it may end up taking law enforcement resources away from a legitimate crisis. (Not to mention the fact that the officers themselves probably won’t find much humor in the situation.)

You could “borrow” your 3-year-old’s toy phone. But then, no matter what number is dialed, the response will be a pre-recorded, childlike voice enthusiastically saying something akin to, “Hi! Wanna come over and play with me?”

Not very good for a sense of realism, or the seriousness you want your child to take away from the exercise. Okay, then, how about no phone at all? You can just tell them what numbers to push and what to say.

Well, it’s better than nothing, and a lot of kids learn about 911 this way. But it’s best to make “practice” as much like “real life” as possible. So forget the imaginary phone and the toy phone. And, so you don’t end up with a cul-de-sac full of emergency vehicles for your efforts, try this:

Use a real phone, but take out the battery. Practicing with both cell and land-line phones is best because they require pushing different buttons in a different order (Send after dialing, or Talk before dialing). Have your kids push the numbers as if they were truly calling in an emergency. You can play the role of the Dispatch Operator and ask them questions (type of emergency, their name, age, location, is anyone with them, etc.), just like the Dispatcher would in a real call. Knowing what to expect will build their confidence so they won’t be afraid to call for help in case of an actual emergency.

Young Carlos confirmed that he was able to keep his wits about him when making the call because his mother used to have him practice calling 911, “just in case.” Clearly, her lessons paid off. Los Angeles County 911 Dispatcher Monique Patino, who took his call and sent the police, described him as her “little hero.”

How the Child Molester Chooses His Victim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

He looks in their eyes. He looks for shyness, a lack of confidence. Sadness, loneliness. Anger at mom and dad. Needs unfulfilled. When he sees any of this, he knows his chances are good. When he sees trust, he knows he’s hit the jackpot.

Trust is the key. It allows a predator to establish (and continue) his relationship with a child. Whatever a little girl or boy is not getting at home–attention, kindness, validation, love–that’s what the sexual abuser will give them. The problem is that this “gift” comes at tremendous cost to the child, who can spend the rest of their life paying for it.

Who is this guy?? As I’ve alluded, the child sex offender is most often male. He can be virtually any age, from 7 to 75 and beyond. Look around; you and he probably know each other. I’m not implying that you hang around with criminals and low-lifes. I’m saying that he’s someone you might not expect: a married neighbor… a co-worker… your friend who comes over on weekends to help with a project… the guy at church who’s a “grandpa” to all the kids… maybe Uncle Joe who’s not really an uncle but a close family friend.

One thing I’ve found in the years I’ve been teaching Child Safety and Self-Defense is that the catchy phrase, “Stranger Danger” frustrates the heck out of me. It’s cute because it rhymes, and lets parents believe they’re protecting their children by steering them away from people they don’t know. But it’s dangerous because it’s misleading. Certainly, there are still cases of children being abused by the stereotypical stranger hiding in the bushes, waiting to grab them. But in over 90% of cases, day-to-day child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child already knows. Over 90% by someone the child knows.

How does he seduce a child? With the things that children love. “Mommy’s too busy to play with you? You can come to my house and we’ll play; I have lots of toys!”

“You’re not allowed to watch that show at home? Well, you just come over here, and we’ll watch it together!”

Maybe he has a scooter in front of his house, or a child’s bike. Or maybe there’s a bench or a picnic table because he enjoys chatting with the kids–it “keeps him young,” he says. In the parlance of criminal psychology, these items and their placement by the predator are anything but innocent. They’re called set-ups. He uses them to lure children into his lair.

If you’re in a social setting–maybe at a party, or at a park–with children and adults, is there an adult who seems to prefer being with the kids? Someone who spends more time playing with them than seeking adult company? This is a red flag. Teachers, pediatricians, childcare workers, etc. love children, which is why they choose the careers they do. But, put them in a gathering with families and, after smiling and encouraging the kids, they’ll turn their attention to the adults for stimulating conversation. The predator finds stimulation among the children.

I offer these danger signs to be aware of, so you can continue to protect your children as much as possible. None of us likes the idea of living near a possible sex offender. And certainly, nobody wants to march down the street and start hurling accusations at a neighbor. Even if you did, a predator will lie to protect himself. But, like my grandmother used to say, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” that may be one bird you want to keep a close watch on.

Bullies Leave Lasting Scars

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Kids who were picked on while growing up become adults with health problems. A new study finds that former targets of school bullying experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, fatigue, muscle pain, and even increased likelihood of catching colds in far greater numbers than their non-bullied peers. Doctors have known for years that chronic stress is debilitating to one’s health. The results of this study lead them to conclude that, over time, the daily strain of enduring threats and taunts causes permanent damage to bullying victims’ bodies.

There have been many tragic stories in the news of children and teens who have ended their lives to escape the ongoing personal destruction inflicted on them by bullies. This has led to a realization on the part of parents, teachers, and school officials that bullying is not just part of growing up, and not something kids should simply “learn to deal with.” As radKIDS Executive Director Steve Daley explains, “Bullying is not ‘kids being kids.’ Bullies are predators; therefore, bullying must not be allowed to continue.”

So, what can we, as concerned parents, teachers, and child advocates, do to protect kids now–and for the rest of their lives? Well, we need to stop doing what has never worked, which is telling victims to stand up to the bullies, to fight back. If it were possible for them to do this, they wouldn’t be getting picked on in the first place.

Bullies choose their targets through a complex process, winnowing out those who would readily defend themselves verbally and/or physically. They zero in on kids who, by their very nature, will not stand up for themselves. Bullies determine who they can hurt, and when and where they can get away with it. Therefore, advising victims to fight for themselves is as ineffective as telling them to ignore a slap in the face; it’s useless because they simply cannot do it.

What can they do? The most effective way to stop bullying seems to be to increase the targets’ self-confidence. That’s where we, the caring adults in their lives, come in. Child behavior experts have found that the fastest way to improve kids’ belief in themselves is for them to get good at something they’re interested in, be it running track, acting in the school play, joining the math club, or exploring some other area that excites them. Joining these activities not only helps them develop a new facet of themselves, but it brings them into the company of other, like-minded kids. Thus, a support network is formed.

Also, in our efforts to rebuild what bullies have broken down, we must attend to kids’ damaged self-esteem. We need to tell them, over and over again if necessary, that they are not to blame for the bullying; they have done nothing wrong. As kids become more self-assured and understand that they did nothing to invite abuse, they become less-satisfying targets. Eventually, bullies must seek a new target or modify their own behavior.

What If There’s a Gun?

Monday, February 1st, 2010

When we were growing up, our parents taught us that talking to strangers was a surefire way to get kidnapped… that bullies were just “kids being kids” and you should toughen up… and that saying “No” to an adult was disrespectful and not to be done. Times have changed, and the ways we protect our children have changed, too. At radKIDS, we know that not all strangers are bad people, and sometimes kids may need to go to a stranger for help. So, we teach them how to find and approach good strangers; how to handle bullies rather than suffer years of pain; and that, sometimes, they may have to say “No” to an adult to protect themselves.

Another thing we need to teach our kids today that wasn’t much of an issue when we were growing up is what to do if there’s a gun. Maybe a classmate reveals one in their backpack at school. Or a friend pulls one out of Dad’s drawer during a playdate. Gun ownership in the United States is at an all-time high, with more than 250 million privately-owned firearms in over 40% of American homes. That means there’s at least one gun in almost half the houses in your neighborhood. So, if you don’t have one in your house, it’s a good bet that one of the neighbors on either side of you does.

I’ve watched studies of kids’ behavior, of what they do upon discovering what they thought was a real weapon. These were average-to-bright kids, elementary-school aged. They came from strong, loving families in which their parents tried to instill in them morals and good character. In separate interviews, each child was asked what they would do if they ever found a gun. The responses ranged from, “Tell a grownup” and “Don’t touch it” to “Run away” and “Call 911.” (All are excellent courses of action, I might add.)

Later, the children were grouped together in a playroom. A replica of a handgun had been hidden within the toys and games, so a child could “find” it. Behavior experts were curious as to how the kids would react. Would they run from the weapon? Would they remember their parents warnings not to touch it, and to notify an adult?

“Bang bang! I shot you!”

“Cool! Let me have it!”

“I wanna see it, too!”

“I had it first!”

The first thing these average-to-bright kids did was aim the gun at another child in the room or at their own faces, and pull the trigger. The good intentions of running away and telling an adult were lost in the excitement of handling the “dangerous weapon.”

I see the same behavior in my radKIDS classes when we cover gun safety. We use a bright yellow, rubber model of a handgun. When the activity is finished, often a child will come up to me and politely ask, “Can I just touch that gun for a minute?” I obligingly hand it over and watch as a spell befalls my once-safety-conscious students:

“Bang bang! I shot you!”

“Cool! Let me have it!”

“I wanna see it, too!”

“I had it first!”

Guns are fascinating to kids. The power, the mystique, the danger they represent often outweigh the few warnings we may have given them in the past. But these days, loaded guns are brought to schools, brandished on school buses, and wielded behind parents’ backs in neighbors’ homes. Repetition brings learning. We must keep telling our kids what to do if there’s a gun.

Real-Life: Not-A-Stranger Danger

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Scanning the national headlines this morning, the first thing I read is this: More than 100 Could Be Victims of Pediatrician. Setting aside concern for what the actual number of children violated by this doctor may be, the point I want to draw attention to is that this man was not a stranger to them. As their doctor, he was someone they were familiar with–and he held a position of authority in their eyes. And he used that authority to help him commit his crimes.

Parents, you are in charge of your child’s safety and well-being. You know this; I’m not telling you anything new. What I will recommend, though, is that you do not leave your young children in the hands of an adult you do not know very well. If your child’s doctor or dentist says, “We prefer to bring the child back for the exam and have Mom or Dad stay in the waiting room,” they may have perfectly legitimate reasons for that. Or, they may want to separate a child from the best caretaker they have. My response to this practice has always been either, “No thank you, I’ll go back, too,” or “Thank you anyway; we’ll go somewhere else.”

Frequently, a concerned parent will come up to me and ask if my classes will teach their child to “Beware of Stranger Danger.” While I assure them that we do cover this quite a bit in radKIDS, I also want them to understand that, very often, it’s not the strangers that they need to watch out for. The danger may well lie with the people their kids already know–especially when those people hold a position of authority over children. This can include teachers, clergy, police officers–adults in general. Children are taught to “respect” their elders and do what they are told. But what does that mean? Is respect demonstrated by blind obedience?  By quietly acquiescing and allowing oneself to be belittled, injured, raped by someone with a sick mind? If a child unwittingly finds him/herself alone with someone who wants to harm them, are they forbidden from protecting themselves?

I believe we must be careful in what we teach our children. They want to please us and do what we tell them. Therefore, we must tell them that it’s okay to protect themselves if they feel they’re in danger. More than okay, it’s important. They need to know that they’re valuable, that they’re worth fighting for, and that no one has the right to hurt them. Not a stranger, not a neighbor, family friend, babysitter, teacher. Not even a doctor.

When is a Stranger Not a Stranger

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

It’s that time of year. The holiday season is gearing up. The twinkling lights, the sparkling snowflakes, and the “old familiar carols” have been setting the mood in stores for weeks. In just a few more days, we’ll be able to take the kids to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap, and maybe pick up a few bargains before we leave. But, as you’re crossing items off your To Do list and your Gift list, keep one thing in mind: Would your child know what to do if someone tried to walk him or her out of a store?

It can happen anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you should be afraid. It does mean you should be prepared–and you should prepare your child. Perhaps the biggest misconception taught to children by concerned, loving parents is, “Don’t talk to strangers!”

In my experience as a radKIDS Instructor, when I ask for a definition of the word stranger, many kids offer up descriptions of scary men in black capes and masks. It’s safe to assume that no one fitting this image will approach your child and attempt to lure them away in the moment you turn to look at a price tag.

An important lesson may be learned from the experience of Adam Walsh, the 7-year-old boy who was killed after being abducted from a department store in 1981. (His father, John Walsh, now hosts America’s Most Wanted.)

Adam was looking at a video game, while his mother shopped a few aisles over. A plainly-dressed man the boy had never met came up to him and commented about the game, then left. He returned a few minutes later and continued to chat. As Adam had now encountered this man a second time, it’s believed he thought the man was no longer a stranger. Therefore, it would be safe to go with him. The man led Adam away–and most likely, to his death.

What if a child simply gets separated from mom or dad in a busy shopping mall or crowded store? If they cannot approach a stranger for help, who can they ask? A frightened, crying little one is vulnerable to the actions of a “kind-hearted” abductor: “Here, honey, take my hand. I think I just saw mommy walk outside. Let’s go to her….”

Kids must be empowered to do what they need to do to stay safe. If that means asking for help from someone they’ve never met, they must be taught how to choose help wisely. They must learn how to recognize a good stranger from a bad one, and how to react to ensure their safety.

Crack Candy is NOT Okay

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

A woman in Birmingham, Alabama, has created a lucrative business for herself. Working out of her home, she makes and sells candy that looks like the street drug, crack. She says she designed it this way intentionally, so it would be “fun, something people could laugh about.” She doesn’t care who buys it, as long as it keeps bringing in a nice profit. So, what’s wrong with producing and selling a candy that looks like an illegal substance? So what if it glamorizes drug use? And if it desensitizes kids to the very real dangers of mind-altering, body-damaging drugs, well, that’s the cost of doing business. She’s laughing all the way to the bank.

But, authorities who work with children are not laughing. One local Youth Services Director calls her Craque Candy offensive, and points out that we should be doing everything we can to protect kids–which includes not making a joke out of drug use. Police and educators agree that what its creator calls a “harmless, fun snack” sends the wrong message to kids.

Never one to stand in the way of good ol’ American ingenuity and capitalism, I think it’s great that this individual has developed a product that 1) the public wants, and 2) has become a lucrative source of income for her. However, when she starts pumping out something that endangers kids simply because of what it is, it’s no longer just her business. It has become my business, and the business of every parent of every child around her.

Crack-candy is bad for kids. It’s inappropriate, ill-advised, and can be dangerous. It’s a shame that, in the name of making a buck, this woman continues to direct her efforts into a product that could harm the welfare of a child. As someone who cares about children, that buck stops here.

A New Meaning to Car Safety

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The other day, a friend of mine came home to find a recorded message from the school principal on her answering machine. It seems that 2 students were walking home from school and noticed, after a few blocks, that a car was following them slowly. The kids wrote down the car’s license plate number, went into their home, and called the police. It turns out that the car belongs to a registered child sexual offender who lives in the area. When questioned by police, the man admitted to following the kids home, but denied he planned to hurt anyone.

My friend, the mother of 2 other students in that school, is concerned because 1) this criminal knows what time school lets out every day, 2) he knows which kids walk home, 3) he has stalked at least 2 and now knows where they live, and 4) he knows, by whether they walked through an open door or used a key or alarm code to get in, if anyone is home to greet them. As he stalked these children, he was also able to determine whether their street is busy or quiet. A simple glance at the number of parked cars tells him if anyone is around and likely to report a cry for help.

In her message to the school’s families, the principal stated that the school would be taking additional and immediate steps to insure students’ safety against this sort of threat. But, she added, once the children left the safe haven of the campus, their security rested within themselves and their parents.

This is where proactive self-defense comes in. Does your child walk to school? Or walk even a block or so home from the bus stop? It might be a good idea to walk that route with them and point out some safety options: “What if someone was following you in a car on this road?” If it’s a main road, the child could enter a store or business and state the need to call 911 (and then Mom or Dad). On a quiet lane, it’s important to know houses of friends or neighbors along the way who would be home and able to help in a dangerous situation.

Another common scenario: someone drives up, lowers their window, and asks for directions. Is it okay with you if your child tells a stranger how to get to the park? It shouldn’t be. It can put them within arms’ reach of a predator.

With kidnappers and child sex offenders brazenly cruising past schoolyards and playgrounds, following children home and luring them into get-away cars, it’s urgent that we teach our kids how to protect themselves. There’s a lot more to “car safety” these days than just buckling a seatbelt.

Equip Your Kids for Real-Life Trouble

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

In the news, a sexual predator in Philadelphia followed a teenage girl into her school and attempted to rape her. He had been walking closely behind the 15-year-old for over 4 blocks–security cameras at neighborhood businesses tracked his movements–and then grabbed her once she entered the school. Her screams as he began to expose himself alerted a dean who rushed to the girl’s aid and removed the man from the building.

It can be hard for a decent, law-abiding citizen to realize just how brazen some sexual predators’ behavior can be. They don’t always hide in the bushes, waiting to jump on an unsuspecting victim. Rather, they engage in inappropriate to downright dangerous and unlawful behavior right out in public, in broad daylight. Therefore, keeping your young daughter safe at home after dark, or letting your children play outside only on your street may not be enough. What will happen when they leave the borders of the safe world you’ve cordoned off for them? When they head to the store with a friend on an errand, or when they walk to school in the morning?

Jails are overcrowded and sexual offenders are often slapped on the wrist and released. So, it’s vital that we, as parents, find ways to make our kids as safe as possible. We can teach them that no one has the right to hurt them, and that they’re worth fighting for. We can help them learn how to immediately determine a safe place to run to, where there’s an adult they can trust to help them. And we can give them the physical skills needed to break an attacker’s hold on them so they can get to that safe place. Kids safety and self-defense classes like radKIDS aren’t “extras” anymore. They’re essential, because stories like this one from Philadelphia happen everywhere, every day. Child molesters and rapists are stalking their next victims. And no child should be up for grabs.

Because of Adam Walsh

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Host of America’s Most Wanted John Walsh and his wife, Reve, stood with police in Hollywood, Florida as they officially brought to a close the case of the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh. Florida Police named pedophile and serial killer Ottis Toole as the 6-year-old boy’s murderer. (Toole died in prison for a different crime in 1996.) But, because of the love, courage, and sheer strength of the Walsh family, Adam’s light still shines.

The Adam Walsh Outreach Center for Missing Children in Washington, DC came into existence because of the life and spirit of this little boy. It has since merged with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to become the greatest resource center for child protection in the United States.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, signed into law in 2006 by President George W. Bush, protects children against sexual and other violent crimes, child pornography, and Internet dangers.

And Adam’s dad, John Walsh, hosts one of television’s longest-running programs, America’s Most Wanted. Because of his son, Walsh and his viewers have been able to assist law enforcement in the capture of over 1,000 dangerous fugitives in the last 20 years.

Many of us just shake our heads, unable to comprehend the horror a murderous pedophile wrought upon this family nearly 30 years ago. No logic, no reasoning, no cosmic justice can make sense of, or offer adequate reparation for, the violent destruction of a child. John and Reve’s amazing example of resiliency, their flat-out refusal to be crushed by evil, is something we can all be grateful for. In John’s own words, they “spiraled into hell” when their only child was killed. But, somehow, they survived and endured. And forced evil to give way to good. Children are safer today because Adam Walsh lived.

Dog Attack

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

In the news recently, a young girl in Florida was attacked by 2 dogs as she walked home from school. A large amount of flesh was torn from her upper leg, and she sustained deep puncture wounds to her calves. Her father was with her at the time of the attack, and it took the combined efforts of him and another man to force the animals off of her until authorities arrived.

What if she had been alone? What about your children? Do they sometimes walk short distances without you, just up the street to a friend’s house, or around the corner to the school bus stop? If a dog ran out of an open gate, as these dogs did in Florida, would your kids know how to protect themselves? Our first instinct, and a necessary one for survival, is to run away from danger. But that won’t help in a dog-attack situation, and is almost certain to make the outcome worse. So, what can you do for them?

Find a good kids’ safety class–one that covers day-to-day-life scenarios, so they’ll learn how to protect themselves from vicious dogs, and other terrible things we read about in the papers these days. I’m partial to radKIDS because I know what’s covered in the class, how the material is taught, and how well kids retain what they learn. (I was a Safety Mom before I was a Safety Instructor.)Who knows? radKIDS may just be the antidote to the headlines.