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.
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.
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?
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.
You may like: Mom Worries And How They Change Over Time
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!