I have never been one to sing in the shower, but behind the wheel of my Tahoe, I become a lecturer extraordinaire. Some of my greatest lectures, sadly undocumented, have been given while driving my kids to and from field trips and swim meets. I wanted to pass along to you my latest, greatest lecture because it was a message of personal safety that really hit home with my kids. It went something like this. (Keep in mind that my kids are 8 and 10 years old.)
“Kids, see that teenage girl over there on the sidewalk? What do you notice about her? That’s right, she’s talking on her cellphone. Is she paying any attention to what’s going on around her? No, that’s right. Look how she’s walking. It’s kind of a slow shuffle isn’t it?
If I were a bad person, someone looking to hurt someone else, that girl would be my prey. Yep. Just as there are predators and prey in the animal world, there are predators and prey in the human world.
Think about wildlife out on a prairie. Imagine a little bunny snuffling along looking for tender leaves and blades of grass for nibbling. He has his head down, focused on what’s directly in front of his little wet nose. Now imagine a gopher not far away. This little guy’s back is straight, his ears are perked up, his head is looking this way and that. If you were a hawk, soaring high above these two little animals, which would be the better prey? That’s right! The little rabbit. He’s oblivious to danger, just as that girl is oblivious to what is happening around her.
I guess the first rule of personal safety is to not be in dangerous places in the first place, especially alone. Those would be places like playing in a park all by yourself, riding your bike alone, or being alone outside after dark. If you avoid those types of places, you’re already looking less like prey. That girl is walking alone along a busy street, passing parked cars and bushes where a bad guy could hide out. Of course she wouldn’t know he was there until it was too late.
Whenever I’m out and about, I keep my back straight, I walk with strong steps, and I’m always looking at everything and everyone around me. If I were busy texting messages and stumbling along, I’d be the perfect prey. Instead, if a bad guy was watching me, he would know that I wouldn’t be an easy prey, that I’d put up a fight, and that I’d be able to identify him because, if I passed him, I would look directly in his eyes.
Those are the things I want you kids to always do. That’s the second rule of personal safety. Walk with your back and head straight up. Look at people in the eye. Don’t be on the phone or so busy talking with friends that you don’t see what, and who, is around you. Keep in mind that you want to be the gopher and not the rabbit.
Finally, if you are ever grabbed or approached by someone you don’t know or you have a bad feeling about, you have my permission to fight like HELL! (You should have seen the quick glances they gave each other when I used that word!) If they tell you to be quiet, you start screaming, spitting, whatever! (They were delighted with this information and began, immediately, to plan what they would do to the next bad guy foolish enough to accost them.)
Bad guys are actually cowards. They want to do their bad deeds in secret and fear getting caught. If their prey suddenly begins screaming and drawing attention, they will most likely run away. Make sure that you are not an easy prey.
So, what are the three rules for personal safety?”
I’m happy to report that my two students both received an A+ on this lesson.
There are so many examples in nature we can use to teach important lessons to our kids. I wrote about this recently in a post titled, “5 Creative Ways to Teach Preparedness.” Think about a lesson you want them to learn and then match an example from nature to that lesson. Many of Aesop’s Fables do this, and look how long they’ve been around!
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