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Safety Review

What kid would have a chance if a big adult tried to grab them?

Many kids have been grabbed, but have gotten away, even though they've been much smaller and lighter. How?

By being smart they are keeping safe.

One example can be used when a child has their bike or another large item nearby. Have you ever tried to drag an unwilling person and their bike into an open car door? By holding onto your bike and not letting go, you make it impossible for a would-be abductor to fit you through their car door. By screaming and also causing a fuss, he or she also risks attracting attention to the scene. For a bad person who doesn't want to get caught, attention is the last thing they want.

Another example of how a little kid can get away from a big adult is the "Windmill Technique." Someone you don't want to go with grabs your arm, and begins to pull you toward a waiting car, structure, or deserted area. By rotating your straight arm rapidly in a circle from your shoulder, like a windmill, you can catch that person off guard, and break their grip. Then, it's time to run and scream! Remember, bad people don't want attention from good adults!

Bigger doesn't always mean better when it comes to adults that try to steal kids.

Sometimes, the best way to keep yourself safe is to keep your distance. A car pulls up to the curb and a friendly-looking woman in a nice dress asks if you could help her out by giving her directions to the park. She may beckon you closer to her open car door by saying she can't hear you, by asking you to ride along with her, by offering you money, even by saying your mom said it was okay. But you should never get within "grabbing" distance of a car with someone in it that you don't know. Stay firmly on the sidewalk, turn, and walk the other direction. You don't have to be polite, you don't have to say anything at all, just turn and walk in the direction opposite of that the car is driving in. Since it takes awhile for a car to make a turn, it should give you a chance to get away.

What if the car follows you, though? You can keep changing directions until you can get somewhere safe. Crowded stores with a clerk on duty, a police or fire station, any place with lots of witnesses and someone who can help you are good choices. If you're in a block of houses, you can either go to a house your parents have approved, or you can scream, yell and make a commotion. Hopefully, this will bring people to their front windows to see what's going on. They may even take down the license plate number or type of car. A bad person who wants to steal children won't want that kind of trouble.

Keeping your distance also applies to avoiding bad situations with people on foot. A nice-looking man in the park comes toward you with a "Missing" poster for an adorable puppy. He's even got a leash. He wants you to help, and he is so sad he's even willing to pay a reward for the kid that finds his puppy.

As much as you may love animals, don't help someone like this. It's easy for someone to get any photo of any dog and make up fake missing posters on their home computers. Anyone can buy an empty dog leash. Get away and tell an adult you know what is happening. You could help some other kid who isn't as smart and safe as yourself from falling for this old story.

If you're being followed, or if you break free in a crowded area, you can use the "Velcro Technique" to force another adult to help you, even if they don't want to get involved.

What is the "Velcro Technique?" Imagine that you're being chased by someone you know wants to hurt you. You're running and screaming, bringing attention to yourself, but that person is still running after you. He or she may even be lying to those around saying that you have a behavior problem, or you lie constantly, or they're your parent. By wrapping both of your arms around the arm or leg of an adult in the area, and refusing to let go, you can force another adult to get you help--you won't let go until they do.

Let the adult know why you're hanging on to them for dear life. Tell them you need help, that you need the police, and that you won't let go until the police come. Even if they shake you off, attach yourself again and hold on for dear life. That person may be in a hurry, may not want to get involved. The person you attach to like Velcro may even believe the person chasing you. Keep repeating that you are in trouble and that you have to talk to the police, and eventually they'll have no choice but to call the police just to get rid of you!

What if a person threatens you with a gun or a knife if you don't get into their car? It might seem smart for you to go along with them and escape later, but you'll actually have a better chance of staying safe if you get away before you are trapped in their home or vehicle--even if they have a gun.

Think of it this way: would you rather be shot where they're trying to take you from (your bedroom, the street, the mall, etc.) or would you rather be taken to the woods or this person's house? Which place has more people around who would help you if you did get shot? Which place would attract the most attention if the gun went off? You're smarter and safer if you stay out of that person's vehicle.

Copyright Bob Stuber. Reprinted with permission.

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