Sadly, child abduction happens a lot in today’s society, it seems like every day that I am getting amber alerts on my cell phone and it has only gotten worse. Thankfully a new child safety program is replacing the ‘stranger danger’ philosophy with ‘tricky people’ to teach kids how to identify safe and unsafe strangers.
Being forced to leave your children is a nightmare scenario for any parent. As a mom of four, Jodie Norton had to find out the hard way, thankfully she armed her children with the correct safety advice.
Jodie was forced to leave her two oldest children, CJ, 10 and T-Dawg, 8 on their own outside of the emergency room. Jodie was suffering from a ruptured ovarian cyst and drove herself to the nearby hospital where she was admitted to the ER. The children had to wait outside the ER door on a bench to wait for a helpful neighbor who was coming to pick them up and take them to school.
Jodie had assumed that her neighbor was coming from his house, which was only five minutes away. However, the children actually ended up waiting outside for nearly 40 minutes.
While they were there, Jodie explained that the boys “were approached by an adult female and two punk males who asked them if they’d ‘help them out by going into the bathroom where her boyfriend was hiding from the doctor and see if they could convince him to come out and get treated.’”
CJ, the oldest boy, began to repeat “no, thank you” at the strangers, in an attempt to make them go away. The strangers persisted, saying: “Please? You could really save his life if you could just go in that bathroom and tell him it is safe to come out.”
Thankfully, the strangers eventually gave up and drove off. Then, “Shortly afterward, the neighbor showed up and my boys jumped in his car, but, not before they saw a third adult male come out from the bathroom, jump into the car with these other three hooligans and drive off. My mouth hung open the entire time they relayed this account.”
She added: “My anger and shock turned to immense gratitude, however, when I heard CJ spout off a family ‘stay safe’ rule we went over way too long ago that helped him know these creeps were up to no good. Most specifically, a tip for identifying a ‘tricky person.’”
The oldest boy, CJ, told his mom: ‘I knew they were tricky people because they were asking us for help. Adults don’t ask kids for help.’
The concept of “tricky people” is the invention of Pattie Fitzgerald, the creator of Safety Ever After, a site dedicated to life-saving safety tips for kids. This idea is to stop kids associating the word “stranger” with danger since sometimes, asking a stranger for help is the best course of action for a young child in danger.
Safety Every After suggests that adults talk to their kids about “tricky people”. These are adults who will go up to children and ask them for help, even if there are adults around. Since no adult would seriously consider asking a child for help when there are adults around, it is generally a clear indicator that something is up.
Patti’s prevention tips:
- Remind your children, safe grownups don’t ask kids for help
- Never leave you child unsupervised, not even for a minute
- Replace the word stranger with tricky person. It’s not what someone looks like it’s what they say that makes them unsafe, or ‘tricky’
- A tricky person can be someone you know well, don’t know, or just know a bit. Anyone who tries to get a child to break their safety rules, or hurt their body is not OK
- Practice personal safety strategies with kids. What would they do if they were lost in a store?
- Do no write your child’s name on the outside of any personal belonging, like backpack or jacket.
- Establish the family rule – no secrets allowed, especially if it involves private parts
- Spend time with your kids. Children who are starved for attention can be especially vulnerable to a predator’s tricks
It’s worth teaching the children in your life the rules Jodie’s kids clearly know so well, it could save a lot of families a LOT of heartache.