Teach Children Code Words – Protect them from Strangers
Teaching Children to Spot Danger
Just this morning I was reading an article posted on Facebook about another bloggers children. While waiting for a ride her children were propositioned by three people, who seemingly needed assistance from two children. Fortunately for her and her children she already taught her children that adults do not seek help from children. At least not in a legitimate way. This reminds me of the method my parents taught my sister and I when we were kids. A method I also taught my daughter.
Our Family Had a Code Word
I grew up in the 70s. We ran the streets without a care in the world, or so we thought. My parents knew better. While providing us the freedom to grow and explore the world around us, we knew not to leave the yard or talk to strangers. When I was young my parents taught us a code word. The word was four. Easy enough because there were four people in our family. My parents believed having something we could easily remember was the key to success. In theory we would always know how many people were in our family.
My parents taught us that anyone who claimed to be picking us up or were otherwise instructed to take us somewhere would know they key word. They insisted that if they didn’t know the word we were not to go. It didn’t matter if it was someone we were familiar with. If they truly were to pick us up, they would know the word. Additionally, they said they would understand we wouldn’t go if they didn’t have the word. My mom was adamant this included the grandparents. As a child I found this bizarre. After all, they were our loving grandparents.
Clarity Only Adulthood Can Bring
As an adult I understand. I now know that not all families are happy. Even if someone got along yesterday, it doesn’t mean they get along today. Certainly we’ve all seen the stories where a parent has kidnapped the kids themselves. I’ve also read that most abductions occur by people the children are familiar with. This is definitely a hardship to a child who is taught not to talk to strangers. What about the people children have legitimately become familiar with? Certainly to a child, they wouldn’t be a stranger. I suppose that is why my parents came up with the code word. Familiar or not, you need to know the word.
Fortunately for my sister and myself we never needed to put the code word to the test. Many children aren’t so lucky. However, like the blogger’s children small techniques given to children can save their lives. Whether you teach your kids a code word or all stranger’s equal danger, make sure children understand not to go with people they don’t know. To take it a step further, instruct them not to go with anyone you haven’t notified them about. I will say in addition to the code word, my mom use to tell us if someone offers candy, she’ll buy it for us when we get home. There would never be a need to get candy from a stranger. Unfortunately, this included Halloween, but that’s another blog all together. She also taught us that she would call the school if ANYONE was coming to get us (we walked home). I guess we understood it would always be Mom and Dad.
A Strange Encounter…
Perhaps the Real Blessing Was Being Prepared
I do recall one time a car slowed down next to my sister and I as we walked home, but we veered into someone’s yard. We immediately knew to stay away from the road. We pretended to be going home, as if we lived in that particular house. Kudos to my sister because we were only about half way home and we walked roughly a mile. Would we have kept walking down the sidewalk they may have circled around. I guess we’ll never know if they were looking for a house, or a child to abduct. But God willing we made it home.
These techniques have helped me even as an adult. Given the fact my husband is in the service, we move around a lot. Not knowing your surroundings or where the bad parts of town are, you have to be careful. The military teaches us to always vary our route to and from home everyday. In addition, simple changes like the time you leave each day will throw a stranger off. I take it one step further and leave the porch light on, on different days. It occurred to me that if I were being watched, someone would know when the house is empty because all the lights go out. Teaching children these additional steps will throw a stranger off. If you have an only child, as I did, try and find a neighbor kid they can walk to school with.
Simply understanding there are bad people in the world makes me more cautious. I notice everything. I’m always observing my surroundings and looking for anything that is out of place.
Here are a few website that will assist you in coming up with ways to protect your children: