Another school year begins, just like every year. However, headlines made parents fret and sigh over the school shootings, bus bullying and violence, kidnap victims released after decades of captivity, and the Trayvon tragedy struck us all. There are no guarantees of safety anywhere, but we also don't want our kids to be paralyzed with fear. What can we do?
Depending on the age of the child, he may hear about all the "news" from his peers. Ignoring questions may lead to increased fear, doubt, and incorrect ideas. Engaging our children in honest, age-appropriate discussions can help them gain perspective and be informed, without being unnecessarily afraid. The events we see in the news on tv are noteworthy and they stick in our minds because of the fear and tragedy, but they are still exceedingly rare.
Having realistic information can help our children face the insecurity of daily life, but having actual knowledge of what to do can also inspire confidence. Many schools perform drills - fire drills, lock-down drills, hurricane drills/earthquake drills. If your child's school does not, see if the administration might be willing to look at the potential benefits of having practiced plans in place. At home, home safety drills - what to do in case of a fire, break-in or other events, can be planned and practiced.
Simple rules may stick - get to safety, call for help. Whatever the situation - potential kidnap, violence, natural disaster - even the youngest children can remember two quick rules - get to safety, call for help. General, short instructions that are easy to remember may work. Having a family password or code may be useful, as well.
A lifelong career in martial arts may not suit everybody, but every person is capable and may potentially benefit from self-defense techniques. Learning them in a classroom situation can help reinforce learning and make it a reflexive habit. Self-defense classes are usually available for every age, every ability, every disability, and can help with physical fitness and mental fitness.
Communication, planning, simple rules, and simple skills may all contribute to helping our children stay safe. Spending a little time now may save confusion or fear later, and help inspire the confidence to navigate safely in our not always safe world. Happy parents, and happy parenting!