Is It Harder Now To Keep Kids Safe?

Is It Harder Now To Keep Kids Safe?

 

I spend a lot of time sitting at dance class, listening to (and sometimes participating in) various parent conversations.  It’s a great source of amusement to me, and sometimes quite educational.

 

Not long ago I had the pleasure (?) of being part of a conversation on how unsafe life is now.

 

There had been an incident at the other end of town where some kids were approached by a man (I think) in a vehicle.  The kids were smart enough to run home and tell their parents, and then the mom posted about it on social media.  I would have done the same.  Awareness is where it’s at these days.

But then the conversation moved to how much harder it is now to keep kids safe.  Frankly, I don’t think so. 

keep kids safe

The fact is that we are much more connected these days – every single thing we do is all over the internet.  Because of that, we stumble across these stories much more often than when our news came from traditional, periodical sources like newspapers, television or the radio.  

After the chat those parents were having about the “incidents” around town, one of the moms spoke up and said “That happened to me twice when I was a kid.”  Umm, so why exactly are you arguing that life is more unsafe now?  Pretty sure you just disproved your own point.  Neither myself nor the other parent could say that we had been approached as children.

 

Creepy, inappropriate people have always been out there. 

 

I think our primary job as parents is to educate our children.  Prepare them for the world.  And that includes discussing potentially dangerous and uncomfortable situations.  If our children are adequately prepared, the world will be as safe as we make it.

The other side of trying to keep our kids safe is learning to trust them.  When we were kids our parents had a lot of faith in us – or so I believe.  Why else would they send us outside ALL DAY never seeming to care where we were or what we were doing.  (I’m sure they cared, but it wasn’t a big worry for them when we didn’t come home until the streetlights came on.)  They trusted not only us, but also our neighbours, and the communities we lived in.

keep kids safe

 

Now you hear stories about parents who let their kids do something dangerous – like getting on a city bus – and then having social workers get all up in their business about it.  (Even though there are no actual “rules” about kids and ages to do things unaccompanied.)   That would have NEVER been an issue when I was a kid.  In fact my hubby used to ride the city bus to get groceries for his grandfather when he was 9 – when his grandfather was too unwell to get out himself.  No one even looked at him twice.

 

What is your stance – Is it harder to keep kids safe now?

 

Let me know your opinion.  As a working mom I have to put a lot of trust in a lot of people – I’m not with my kids for very many of their waking hours.  Maybe we’re lucky that we haven’t had any issues, but I’m ever hopeful that that is the normal reality. 

People are good, and while there are a few creeps and criminals out there, I know a lot of amazing people who I trust implicitly with my children.  And there are a ton more people out there who look out for them without my even knowing it.

I’m not well connected with my neighbours, I don’t know all the teachers at my kids’ school, and there are a TON of parents and teachers at the dance school I have zero interactions with.  This does not make me afraid for my children’s safety.  In fact, it makes me proud to know my children can make connections without me being there to facilitate the conversations.  It means they are learning to make judgements for themselves.  And they NEED that skill to process whatever life will throw at them.

 

How are you teaching your kids about “stranger danger” and other potentially unsafe situations?

Is It Harder Now To Keep Kids Safe?

 

Share your best tips for getting those conversations started.  My girls are old enough to really understand, and learn from, these conversations now.  As toddlers or preschoolers the “stranger danger” talks have to be very simple.  And it can be hard to really get into these subjects without scaring the kids.  But short talks often works the best for me.  Real world examples (things seen on tv or the internet) are a great chance to open dialogue.  Talking about how we would, and should, react in those situations – we use this when talking about natural disasters too – seem to be well understood.

 

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Long story short, I don’t think it’s any harder now to keep kids safe, than it was when I was a kid.  We have to digest all available information (there really is SO MUCH more now!) and siphon out what is really relevant to us.  And we have to trust each other, and especially trust our children!

~Jess

 

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22 Comments

  1. Very good points. I don’t think it is any more dangerous now, just that we are so much more aware of the dangers that were already there and we have different perceptions on what is dangerous than from 3 years ago. I do think however we have to inform ourselves about how our children are using the internet because it seems to me that in many cases the biggest risks are now online rather than on the streets #mmbc

    1. I definitely agree about needing to teach our kids about internet dangers. My kids are not at the point of having their “own” devices or accounts so we are able to see what they are doing online (almost) all the time. But yes, this will be something I will likely be talking about a few years from now when my children are wanting to join social networks etc.!
      ~Jess

  2. Great blog post.

    I do agree with Louisa. I remember my grandad telling me about all the things he would get up to as a child and even what my mum and uncle/aunts etc would get up to.. all of which would be considered unsafe now. Even myself, playing out until it became dark. Not having a phone on me to keep in touch. Knocking for friends, streets over and playing in fields etc. All of that is considered too risky now.

    Having said that, advanced in technology and the way the world has moved on, seems to make it far easier for people with sinister intentions to communicate with children of today.

    I do agree ‘education is key’. If we educate our children and teach stranger danger then we can at least know that they are aware of dangers and how to deal with them should they encounter any. #mmbc

    Jemma
    http://www.jemmalone.com

    1. Thanks Jemma! I’m really sad that going to knock on your friends door a few streets over is considered risky now. And as I replied to Louisa, I will hopefully be able to create a post in a few years when my daughters have an actual online presence. Right now they just watch some YouTube – no Insta or FB for them yet!
      ~Jess

  3. I think there was always danger out there, but as we didn’t have the internet etc then you never heard about it. My daughter has a phone so that I always know where she is, It does help knowing that I can call her and know she is safe.
    #FamilyFun

    1. I am so torn about phones and kids. I love the idea of being able to contact my girls, but I know they aren’t ready for the responsibility of looking after a phone in their day-to-day lives. I’m trying hard to trust my girls and allow them freedoms like I had. I can’t give them the same unfettered childhood I had, but I’m working on it!
      ~Jess

  4. Oh I don’t know, it hard. I mean I think ‘bad people’ and dangers have always been there but I think they are more accessible now and people have more tools at their disposal. Also we know more now what with the news nd social media. I know I am really worried about getting the balance right between educating them and not scaring them but I do agree that forwarned is forearmed and all that! Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

    1. I still believe it’s strictly the amount of information available to us every minute of the day which gives the illusion of life being more unsafe. But that does mean that those “bad people” have other ways of infiltrating our lives; through overexposure, as well as online connections. Still, teaching our children about the dangers out there, and helping them learn to navigate the online world safely, is our best course for keeping kids safe today.
      ~Jess

  5. The world we live in has changed so much. Like what you said about the neighbors and communities looking out for the kids. That simply doesn’t happen anymore. It’s completely up to the parents these days to keep their kids safe. Though I think being approached by a stranger is less likely now than it was when we were kids (I was followed home from school a couple of times. Once by a car and once by a man walking)The technology we have is wonderful but it does also pose many dangers to our kids now. More so than when we were kids. Child predators have access to our kids online, which is why when my kids go online, they use mine or their dad’s accounts and we get notified of messages and things. But where there are the bad guys, the good guys will step up if they are truly good. And as parents we also have tools at our disposal to keep our kids safe. I do agree with you though that awareness is key. I talk to my kids all the time about many different things, including online safety because I know that I can’t be there all the time. Like when I was little, my mom wasn’t there to keep me safe from the men who followed me but at that time in the early 80’s the schools in my town had started teaching kids about stranger danger and what to do when someone in a car approaches you and what-not. So I knew what to do and how to get myself to safety. So yes, awareness is pivotal to raising our kids:) #FamilyFunLinky

    1. I remember being light years ahead of my parents in the digital world in the 90s. I was online a LOT and had emails and accounts they didn’t monitor or even know about. (I was a teenager then, but still.) I met a ton of people online, and went on to meet a few of them in real life. Of course, as a teenager, you’re invincible, right? My girls are only 6 and 9 currently – they don’t have any access to personal accounts or emails besides those that belong to their father and I. They don’t even have their “own” devices. But I am still teaching them stranger danger, both in real life and online.
      ~Jess

  6. I think safety is so elusive now. ISIS, cars driving into people, school massacres… I don’t think here in the US, we thought of any of these things when I was a kid. Now, I keep my kids safe simply by not having the news on… It’s a tough one in these Dis-united States. Or maybe this latest school in Florida, where I grew up, is just too raw. I want us all to be safe. #familyfunlinky xoxo

    1. I can’t imagine how you are feeling about safety these days Lisa. I saw that you went to that school in Florida – how devastating for everyone involved. I do agree that sometimes the best way to stay safe is to not have the news on. There are so many wild and crazy things going on in the world (especially in the dis-united States as you called them) that sometimes it’s best to focus solely on your family, or your neighbourhood or school community. Hugs to you.
      ~Jess

  7. You have some great points. We hear a lot more about the “weirdos” and scary situations than parents did in the past. We hear a lot more EVERYTHING.
    I agree that educating our children is (and always has been) the best way to keep them safe.

    1. Thanks Lexie! Let’s hope we can raise our kids with the mindset that they don’t need to be in reach of a parent every moment. Making smart choices is the best way to stay safe – so we should be teaching our kids to make those smart choices!
      ~Jess

  8. When we were young in my home village a man was taking photos of us as kids playing on the beach.we had to ring our parents from a phonebox as we knew it was wrong. the police took it so seriously. The world is scary and its hard getting the mix of do not be scared but be safe #stayclassymama

    1. It is a difficult balance Sarah. I don’t want to scare my children by overloading them with “What if”s, but whenever I can talk about something we’ve seen or heard about, I do it. Using real life examples is the best way to get some of those messages across without things being too much “that will never happen to me.” Seems everything in life needs balance, doesn’t it?
      ~Jess

  9. I don’t think it’s harder to keep kids safe (except in the US with their gun issue) but the terrorist and ‘weirdos’ aren’t really as big a threat as we make them out to be (percentage wise). Our knowledge of them is far greater – and we hear about them all over town, when in our youth, our parents only heard if it was in our neighbourhood. So it seems like more to us. I think our reaction to it all is more the cause of the stress for children than anything else. We have to learn from that, I guess. I think the US is a little different. You are more likely to be killed by a previously law abiding citizen (toddler, student or ‘normal’ person) than a criminal or terrorist – how do you live with that??

  10. I think the key here is the community. When we were younger there was a great sense of community around where we lived and we knew all the neighbours and the neighbours knew us. Now, not so much. I don’t really know any of my neighbours and my children don’t know them either. It’s quite sad really. Thank you for sharing with #stayclassyamama

    1. You are very right Pat. Neighbours don’t spend time together like they used to. I’m trying to be more approachable for my neighbours, and we have made a few better acquaintances, but it’s hard work today.
      ~Jess

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