Keep Calm and Mommy On - Kids’ Safety

March 03, 2013

Posted By: Shaunescy

Like you, on Thursday afternoon I received a forwarded email with the subject heading: “MSU Alert: Timely Warning -- Attempted Kidnapping” and I bit my lip and read about a report that an elementary-school aged boy who lives in the MSU married-student housing, reported that he was approached by an unknown male suspect in a black pickup truck.

This being right on the heels of a similar incident, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, where an elementary-school aged female reported that she was approached near Hyalite Elementary by a male suspect in a black pickup truck.

I had a flash of fear. And then I started typing a note to our Sheriff, Brian Gootkin. I happened to have his email handy because after the Sandy Hook shootings, he, Matt Kelley, Scott Malloy and Buck Taylor came together and wrote the article, Hugs Aren’t Enough , in a measured response.

Here is what I emailed to our Sheriff:

Hello Sheriff!

I am writing to you because among my fellow mommies, we are getting more and more concerned about our kids safety. With the kidnapping attempts and of course lingering worries after Sandy Hook, it feels like it's been a troublesome year.

I am planning on writing a piece for our blog about how it feels to have entered my son in kindergarten this year, with all that going on. And attempting to speak clearly and effectively with kids about it without causing them undue fear. It is a fine line.

Maybe you want to be part of that, have some advice or would be willing to meet for coffee to chat about it with me.

Thanks for your consideration.

He responded:

I would love to. When are you thinking?

Ok, whew. I admit to feeling a bit out of my depth here, I am a mommy blogger for heaven’s sake, not an investigative reporter. But I sincerely asked for help and advice and our sheriff put on the white hat and said how can I help you ma’am?

I dropped the kids at their schools on Friday morning and grabbed a couple to-go cups of coffee and went to meet Brian at the Law and Justice Center.

He was very kind as I stumbled and babbled about my concerns and what kind of advice I was hoping he could give us. As a human being I tend to be a bit squishy and empathetic and panic prone, even as I try my best to be calm and cool.

I told him that for me, it is really important when I put my head down on my pillow at night, to know that I have done the best that I can by my kids.

Ultimately, I landed on my questions. What is the risk here? What are the most useful things we can do as parents to keep our kids safe?

“We live in a very safe community. That is why we live here. We have good schools, a great law enforcement community. You have been to places where it is not safe and that is very different. It { the recent news} is concerning. And also, as parents we are extra sensitive after the Sandy Hook shooting.”

I agree with him. I most certainly do not feel that there are boogey men lurking around every corner, and if I did. . . I would move. I would be gone in a heartbeat.

I was a school kid back in the 80’s where the threats were weird Nuclear fallout drills that schools did after the very popular television event, The Day After, aired and not social media instantly telling us about a very creepy individual in our midst. I am constitutionally unprepared for this.

My sweetheart always tells me, “When you don’t know how to tackle a problem, get someone smarter in the room.” So I did.

“What can you do? The Basics .”

1. Have the stranger-danger talk with your kids in an age appropriate way. Role-play it. Give them what ifs.

“What if the stranger says he wants to show you the puppy in his car? Has awesome candy for you? We yell, NO! And find a trusted adult, or pretty much any other adult – they are safer than the guy who is trying to get you to go to his car.

Under stress, we do what we have practiced. If the kids have a process, the plan is in their head without them thinking about it.

2. Try to never be alone.

There is no good way to say this, but predators tend to go for the path of least resistance. A kid who is alone, who maybe looks sad is a way easier target than two or 3 or 4 kids together playing or a single kid with an adult who is watching out.

3. Trust your human instinct.

We have it. We feel it. Trust it. This one is harder for younger children but if you build into your family culture that instinct is respected, engender a sense that they can trust their instincts; you will be way ahead of the game.

Tell them that anytime they have that feeling of not being safe to tell an adult or to even call 911. The only thing that will come of that is that someone will help them. Everyone wants to prevent something bad from happening. Adults are in their life to help them and so is the sheriff’s office.

4. Teach your kids your phone number and address. In this day and age, I almost think that the cell number is the most useful thing you can teach in this regard.

Being that my kids are 4 and 6, I haven’t really focused on that, but in talking about it with a friend, I realized the brilliance of the “Cell Phone Song.” When I asked what the Cell Phone Song was. She said, “Well, Mine goes like this. . .




That’s my mommy’s

Cell phone for me.”

Again, I think this is just brilliant. It never even occurred to me to put my cell number to a jingle, but kids can learn anything by song. ABCs anyone?

So folks, that is a lot of plain talk. I really hope it’s been helpful for you. It’s been helpful for me to chat some of this out. If you can think of anything I have left off of the list of basics, let me know. We are all in this parenting thing together and I am truly feeling more on top of this than I was on Thursday afternoon.


All my best, Bunnyfufu

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