It takes a lot to get me riled. I was in the military and have experienced a lot in my life. I have seen American affluence and third-world poverty. I travel, and the airlines give me opportunities to “lose it” regularly. I have kids and they, too, challenge my self-control. So, like I said, it is tough to get the better of me. But I heard a fact the other day that grabbed me and won’t let go. I know I am straying from my business leadership theme, but this one is so important that I feel compelled to share it with you. It’s too important not to, so here goes:
Every year, over 250,000 children in this country are abducted. Nearly three-quarters of those kids are sexually abused within two hours of being taken. Ninety-nine per cent of them are dead within 24 hours.
My wife and I have had “the talk” with our kids more than once--you know, the one about strangers. But it turns out we weren’t quite right. If you’ve told your kids not to talk to strangers, you, too, may unwittingly be giving them misguided information.
There was a story in the news last year about a young boy, lost in the Colorado mountains. He heard the searchers calling his name, but he didn’t go to them because they were “strangers,” and his parents had told him never to go with strangers. By now, I hope I have your attention. And I hope you are asking yourself what you can do differently help your kids even more. ‘Glad you asked.
There are some excellent programs that focus on child safety and anti-abduction. (I’m not referring to martial arts classes. While these are very good for building a child’s confidence over years of training, the techniques taught are not designed to stop an attacker.) Organizations worth looking into are Impact, Yellow Dino, and radKIDS. Each has its own way of coming at the subject. I am a fan of radKIDS. (In the name of full disclosure, my wife is a certified radKIDS instructor and the founder of radSafe Raleigh, through which she teaches children how to protect themselves.) The centerpiece of this program is teaching kids how to react in an abduction situation. They practice physical skills against a life-size dummy or an instructor wearing protective padding. They train “full power, full-force,” which teaches them to think, rather than panic. It also builds their confidence, making them less of a target to begin with. One child I watched go through the training looked away and grew quiet when asked what she would do if someone tried to take her. Toward the end of the program, she looked the instructor right in the eye and confidently demonstrated her options under such circumstances.
I know there are no guarantees in life. But this kind of training—designed especially for kids in an abduction situation--can help keep your family safe. If want to know more, check out a book called Protecting the Gift, by Gavin De Becker. Look online at www.radKIDS.org or email me and I will forward your message to my wife. A lot of kids will never need to use the kinds of physical skills taught in the program. But the self-esteem and confidence they’ll get will help them in every move they make.
Wally Adamchik is President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting. Visit the website at www.beaFireStarter.com. He can be reached at 919-673-9499 or wally@beaFireStarter.com.
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