Friday, March 5, 2010

The 3 Little Pigs Go to War (Keeping Kids Safe)

There's been one of those in the news this week. You know, one of those horrific stories of the disappearance of a teenage girl in a San Diego park, followed by news of the arrest of a sex offender in connection with the crime, followed by news of a lifeless body recovered. And guess what? The sex offender they arrested? Already served time for a crime several years ago. When he came up for parole after five years, the court psychiatrist stated that -- wait for it -- he was NOT rehabilitated and would probably strike again. How would you like to be the judge who overrode that advice?

Be still, my boiling blood.

Like any parent, I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this crime -- about the innocent victim, about her heartbroken parents, who have to endure the remainder of their lives knowing their daughter experienced intense fear and pain and they were unable to protect her.

But when I step back from the disturbing thoughts, I realize that the media actually, in a twisted way, loves these stories. They're lurid, they're sensational, they prey on every parent's worst fears. They sell. We can wallow in that kind of fear, like the little pigs in their houses of straw and sticks. We can believe the lie that there's nothing we can do to protect our children, especially our daughters, from the Big Bad Wolf who lurks out there. Or we can take action.

Here are a few things we have begun in our family and will continue to do. Don't misunderstand me -- I place zero blame on parents who lose their children to this kind of tragedy. Our circle of control only extends so far. But why not do everything we can within that circle and have as few regrets as possible?

1. We pray for our children, that they would experience the Lord's mercy and protection every single day of their lives. We pray the words of Psalm 23, that the Shepherd's goodness and mercy would follow them unceasingly. We know their angels work overtime for that job.

2. We know that most violence against children actually comes from sources known to the children, NOT strangers. So we do our best to teach them to trust their instincts. There is a time and a place for good manners. There's also very much a time and place to assert yourself and say NO.

3. We (I) read Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)by Gavin DeBecker. Highly recommended.

4. We expect our daughters to become proficient in self-defense. They will both have the opportunity to train in martial arts for as long as they have the interest (our taekwondo dojang includes self-defense as part of the normal curriculum). If they stop short of a high belt level, they will still continue their self-defense education, learning physical toughness and agility.

5. We teach our son to show respect for girls and women. Non-negotiable! We will have age-appropriate discussions with him about the dangers of pornography and other influences that promote violence toward women.

What about you? What current practices or goals do you have to help keep your kids safe?


Raji P. said...

That is exactly our list too, but we have not got around to the martial arts yet. Do you know self-defense techniques, Hannah? I have been meaning to go for a class myself but, you guessed it, not gotten around to it, like adult CPR classes. Protecting the Gift is such a must-read book for all parents. It's gotten to the point in society these days that we (ok, I) worry when the kids are playing in the garage and I am in the kitchen. Sigh.

Becky said...

I am not a mother, but I definitely have maternal instincts ingrained into me. I cannot even imagine being a mother, as I would probably be even more paranoid than I already am, imagining danger lurking around every corner. One thing I wanted to say when you mentioned martial arts, there is a great self-defense system called Krav Maga. You may have heard of it. It is specifically designed for self-defense. It teaches you what to do in every possible scenario. If you are on the ground, if you are getting into your car, if you are facing your attacker, if they have a weapon, etc. I don't know if they have it for children, and it is quite expensive, but you might look into it. I have a friend who does it, and he swears by it's effectiveness.

Anne said...

Good list. We haven't thought about self-defense training, but it's certainly something to consider.