Keeping Our Kids Safe
Nobody wants their child’s name to be famous because the child is missing. I doubt there’s a parent anywhere whose heart doesn’t break when they hear that a child has gone missing. But instead of panic and knee-jerk reactions, this is the time to remind ourselves of what we can do to protect our kids and teach them street smarts. There are many different programs that teach street-proofing; the one I really like is called Yello Dyno, because of it’s positive, non-scary focus. It helps kids to feel empowered and smart, and I think that makes a big difference in their ability to actually use the information.
One of the products Yello Dyno sells is a CD with songs about important safety messages. The reason this is so important is that research has shown that when in a panic situation, our brains can’t readily access information that’s stored in the way that we might typically store street-proofing and safety messages that are simply drilled into us. Our fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in, and the “memory” part of our brain shuts down. The music part of our brain, however, is still working. (What amazing computers our brains are!) This is why we have songs stuck in our heads for days at a time, why we remember jingles so easily, and why, 16 years later, I can still remember the chant for the phone number for the foot patrol at my university (6-61-36-50, call 6-61-36-50…). So getting back to Yello Dyno…the CD has eight songs on it that all focus on specific messages for kids to remember, even when they’re in a panic situation. Brilliant.
There’s also a book, Raising Safe Kids In An Unsafe World, with practical, relevant information from safety experts, law enforcement, and parents. The chapters are broken down into different safety ideas, with information for parents and then bulleted points to drive home to kids. You can even buy one of two videos, targeted at different age groups, that show kids being approached by a “tricky person” and how to recognize them as such. The videos are a little dated now, but the content still stands.
I can’t say enough about how great I think all of their materials are. The last time I checked, they only shipped to the US, which is a bit of a pain if you wanted to order any of the printed materials. The good news, though, is that most of their products are also available by download. In a time when we know that “Don’t talk to strangers” is among the most useless pieces of advice we can give our kids, Yello Dyno presents concrete tools and warning signs we can teach our kids to keep them safe.