Friday, December 28, 2012

My Recent Wake Up Call

Twice last week I left my twelve year old and ten and a half year old alone after school for a few hours. No different than other weeks, and not unlike parents of millions of children around the country, I consider them old enough to be home safely, following my established safety rules and with neighbors nearby in case of emergencies, until I get home just a few hours later.

So you can probably imagine my surprise when twice last week I received phone calls that each of them had opened the door for strangers, service call personnel, who luckily were nice people that turned and left our home upon learning from the girls that I was not home. 

What I know is that this could have turned out very differently. If either of these individuals were bad people, pedophiles, ill intentioned, or worse, my kids might not be in the other room right now. I am very thankful that it turned out well.

I am also thankful for the reminder that kids need ongoing safety and prevention education. Honestly, I haven’t talked to my kids about our safety rules in a while. Maybe I think because of what I do for a living they somehow “get it” and I don’t need to have those continual conversations with them. I learned last week I was very wrong, and I hope every parent that reads this post will learn from my recent “wake up” that they also need to have those continual conversations with their own kids.

We hear it said over and over, “adults are responsible for keeping kids safe,” and we agree completely. But we also know we can’t be with them 24/7 so we must educate and empower them to help protect themselves. And we do that by talking to them and teaching them. Not once, not a few times, but continuously.

If we all work together – parents, schools, and community members – we can be very effective at teaching them and protecting them. The Speak Up Be Safe™ (SUBS) program works to do just that - educate and empower children. It teaches elementary students about personal safety, bullying and child abuse prevention starting in first grade and reinforces and builds upon learning skills every year. The program has multiple sessions, and the curriculum concepts are reinforced by teachers and parents with activities and learning strategies designed to foster ongoing communication and continued learning for kids.

The strategies used in SUBS can be used by all of us in our every day lives to better protect our kids.  We can teach our kids important safety concepts, start young, reinforce skills previously taught and build upon them as our kids get older.  Most importantly, we can continue the conversations and learning activities day after day, week after week, and month after month as opportunities present themselves and as we learn things our kids need to know to educate and empower them to better protect themselves.

Some things are blessings in disguise I suppose. I guess it’s time for me to get busy talking about these things with my kids. You too maybe? Not sure what to say? Keep following our blog and we’ll give you some ideas in upcoming posts!

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