Yes…it’s back to school time.
For many parents, this occasion can bring both sighs of relief or pangs of anxiety.
Although the anxiety can come from a variety of reasons, one common source of parental angst is based on concern over their child’s safety. Sending children to school when there have been so many crazy stories about violence at or on the way to school can be unnerving. However, one cannot shelter their children forever. Sooner or later, children need to be equipped both physically and mentally to face whatever they may encounter. Hopefully, they will experience far more good than bad, but just as we can’t totally control our own lives, we can’t totally control what they may face as well.
So what is a parent, grandparent, or guardian to do???
When we think of protecting ourselves, many of us have the option to arm ourselves with some kind of concealed security weapon, but that’s not so for school children. In this day and age, a child can be suspended for just eating a pastry into the shape of a gun, so obviously carrying a firearm, knife, or other weapon is a big no-no. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m guessing school administrators would not welcome a mace canister either.
Truth be told, their best defense that they can carry with them to combat violence at or on the way to school is found between their ears…and it is up to us as parents to make sure they have stored in there what they would need to help themselves. Here are a few of those things that they should know:
- Situational Awareness – an absolute must!!! … Pokémon Go may be fun, or texting friends may be their whole social world, but a child who is just staring at a phone screen is an easy target…period. Please, please, please teach your child about the necessity of situational awareness. It should go without saying it is vastly easier to avoid a dangerous situation rather than to escape one.
Calling for Help/Attracting Attention – Some situations could be ended just by calling attention to it. Having your children know who to call in an emergency (such as 9-1-1) is a start. Knowing how to approach school or community authorities is must as well. In addition to these first methods, everyone should also have additional means to attract attention and call for help. For example, I have my children carry a metal whistle when they go to school. Since a whistle carries farther than voice, they would have another means to draw attention to themselves for help if they were ever threatened.
- Basic Self-Defense Maneuvers – Hopefully, your children will never need these, but unfortunately you may never know. However, children are capable of learning some basic self-defense moves which could help save their lives. Recently, I just attended a youth camp as an adult leader. There, an instructor had taught some simple self-defense moves that even small pre-teen girls could manage. Basic defensive maneuvers such as breaking someone’s grip, kicking an attacker “where it counts,” or otherwise putting up a fight to make things more difficult for an attacker are all things that children could employ in an attempted assault. Also included in this set of skills are instructions on how to best escape an active shooter situation, how to deal with a lock-down, how to best hide if necessary, and any other information which can increase your young ones’ chances for survival. If you think all this information sounds a bit too scary to bring up with children, you should know that such drills are already taking place at many schools. They are hearing about this kind of stuff already. Wouldn’t it be better if basic survival skills were also being reinforced by you as well?
It’s true we don’t ever want to picture our children in a threatening situation. It’s enough to keep parents up at night. However, it is far better that our children be prepared to deal with potential violence rather than to just bury our heads in the sand insisting that it couldn’t possibly happen. Unfortunately, in our world…it does…far…too…often. So, just as it is important that we be prepared to deal with dangerous situations ourselves, our children need to have the means to do so as well.
If you have any additional suggestions on how we can better prepare our children to face potential threats at school, or on the way, please share. I would welcome it!