Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf? How about the boogeyman? Okay, good — so we’ve got those two covered! But how about the ice cream man, or the next door neighbor, or the after-school sports coach? Now, before you get mad at me for picking on those three, let me just say I have nothing against any of these community members! In fact, my daughter and I buy Fudgsicles from our local ice cream man at the park all the time, and I have a very cool next door neighbor.
So why bring them up?
Because…as a child safety advocate and sexual abuse prevention educator, it’s my job to make sure that we are teaching our kids about personal safety in the most effective, up to date manner. By now, most parents know that the “stranger-danger” concept is outdated and doesn’t serve our children. And, many parents are at least somewhat familiar with the statistic that 90 percent of childhood molestation occurs by someone the child knows, not by a stranger.
What does this mean?
Does this mean we should teach our kids to fear everyone, or suspect that everybody out there in the world is a child molester? No, absolutely not! Most people are not waiting in the wings, ready to harm our kids the moment we turn our backs. But, unfortunately, we do live in a world where childhood sexual abuse exists and the best way to protect kids is to EMPOWER them with the right kind of safety information. So, how do we begin to teach our children how to interact with various adults every day without being taken advantage of? You can start by using The Super-Ten “Safe- Smarts” Rules For Kids and Grownups!
Most kids understand the concept of rules. Whether they’re at school, on the playground or at home, they know there are certain acceptable behaviors and guidelines that they’re expected to follow. In fact, kids count on this kind of structure as they navigate through their world. It’s how they get through their day!
The Super Ten Rules
By giving kids the Super Ten Rules, we’re empowering them with clear, child-friendly “do’s and don’t’s” that will keep them safe. The rules let kids know that they have rights, and can take action when they need to.
The great thing about the Super-Ten is that they apply to all kinds of situations… with people that our children: know a lot, know a little bit, or don’t know at all.
The Super-Ten Rules work because they can help kids (and parents) identify a “thumbs up or thumbs down” situation or spot a potential red flag in another person’s behavior.
Why are the Super-Ten effective
Whether it’s to keep kids safe around their soccer coach or the stranger at the park, the Super Ten Rules are an effective way to get the conversation started. Look for teachable moments: on your way to an outing or playdate, as you’re setting the table at dinnertime, or even when you’re running errands together. You can even play a light-hearted game of “What If…?” as you work on strengthening their understanding of the rules. Just keep the tone upbeat and remind your kids that they can be safe, strong, and in charge!
I am the Boss of My Body! I have the right to be SAFE!
I know my name, address and phone number… and my parents’ cell phone number, too.
Safe Grownups Don’t Ask Kids for Help When You’re By Yourself. (They should go to other adults for assistance)
I never go ANYWHERE or take ANYTHING from someone I don’t know… no matter what they say.
I always CHECK FIRST and get permission before: I go anywhere, change my plans, or accept something even if it’s from someone I know.
Everybody’s bathing suit areas on their body are private. No “bathing suit area” games allowed.
I don’t have to be POLITE if someone makes me feel scared or uncomfortable. It’s okay to say NO! even to a grownup or a bigger kid if I have to.
I don’t keep SECRETS from my parents, especially if it’s about my body.
If I ever get lost in a public place, I can FREEZE AND YELL or go to a MOM WITH KIDS and ask for help.
I always listen to my own inner voice… especially if I get an “uh-oh” feeling.
About the Author
Pattie Fitzgerald is the founder of Safely Ever After, Inc. and is recognized as a leading expert in the field of childhood sexual abuse prevention education. She is certified as a Child Safety Educator and Child Visitation Monitor, and has been working in the field of child advocacy for over ten years. As a former preschool teacher, Pattie blends her expertise as an educator and, more importantly as a MOM, to teach parents and kids every where the most effective, up-to-date safety strategies WITHOUT using fear tactics.
Admired for her positive approach and warm, compassionate style, Pattie has created her unique brand of “Safe-Smarts” which parents and children are embracing across the country. Her published works have appeared in newspapers, parenting magazines, and trade journals throughout the United States, and she has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, KCBS, KABC and KNBC news as well as countless national radio programs.