Her kids are learning about predators, and that's pretty scary for Mom.
The sledgehammer of reality landed squarely upon my children's heads last weekend. At a Child Abduction Prevention Class they learned that a handful of strangers – and possibly even acquaintances or family members – prey on children.
I had hoped the class would simply reinforce that they should stick close to me during our upcoming spring break travels. I hadn't bargained on such an eye-opening afternoon.
The instructor, a martial arts expert, played "The Journey of the Steal-Proof Master," a forty-five minute safety video. This fantasy-adventure film chronicles the journey of a young boy, who, with the help of a wizard and two apprentices, defeats ten evil warriors. The evil warriors represent specific lures commonly used by child predators and molesters. For example, "Helpless" tells a child to come closer – he is hurt and needs help. "Magician" mysteriously knows a child's name and is familiar with his family or schedule, and "Messenger" delivers the news that Mom is in the hospital and has sent him to pick up the child.
All of the predators appear harmless and friendly, until the moment they briefly morph into horned monsters, revealing their ugly natures. Throughout the movie, the boy wears an amulet around his neck that glows when he feels uncomfortable, teaching children to recognize and listen to their intuition.
Although the movie is an effective teaching aide, it's terrifying. Unlike the Freddy Krueger horror movies, this type of terror actually occurs at the hands of both depraved sociopaths and leaders in the community.
Following the film, the instructor taught the children how to break away when grabbed and how to brace their legs against a car door to prevent themselves from being thrown in.
When an older girl in the class shyly declined to practice screaming, the instructor matter-of-factly told her to get comfortable with screaming. Scream loudly and immediately, because "the abductor will take you to the second location and make you scream louder and longer than you ever dreamed possible."
A chilling thought, but a thought parents must entertain. According to the AmberWatch Foundation, a child is reported missing every forty seconds, though many of these children are either runaways or have been abducted by a parent. Kidshealth (www.kidshealth.org) reports that only 25% of kids are actually taken by strangers. Two thirds of these abductions involve male abductors and female children and the majority of abducted children are teenagers.
Though the likelihood of a child abduction in your family may be small, we must teach our kids to be alert and cautious.
There's a fine line between caution and fear, a balance that now must be found in my home. My kids are desperately trying to process the information they've learned, role-playing the evil warriors and practicing their screams: "You aren't my parent! Get away from me!"
My kids are now more aware and slightly more prepared to defend themselves. Unfortunately, it cost them a bit of their innocence. It's a price I'm willing to pay.
Have you taught your children about intuition? Inappropriate touch? Not keeping an adults secrets? If not, arm them with information that may just save their lives.
For child safety tips, visit www.amberwatchfoundation.org. "The Journey of the Steal-Proof Master" is presented in classes throughout California and is also available for purchase at www.adventuresinsafety.com.
Contact the writer: JSokol@kc.rr.com