In today’s society, it is important for our young people to understand the meaning of staying alert. Alert to predators of all types – kidnappers, stalkers, pedophiles, murderers, muggers – how to recognize them, how to outsmart them, and how to protect themselves. The newspapers and media are filled with horror stories from around the country and the people who commit these crimes don’t stand out from the rest of the crowd. They look just like a neighbor, or a co-worker, or a friend. And that is what is so deadly. No one suspects what is going on in the mind of the predator.
Listen to your instincts when you meet someone. If they seem a little strange, perhaps a little too friendly, or you get the impression that they are hiding something, beware of confiding too much information about yourself or your family. Be aware of this person if they seem to be loners; not many friends, they don’t have family ties, they don’t have steady jobs. If they do have friends, pay attention to what type of people they associate with. Or, if they have family, do they participate in activities where they are together in public? Are their children normal and active? Or do they stay at home most of the time and are withdrawn? Most teachers and medical professionals are trained to look for signs of abuse. But occasionally those signs are well hidden from others.
Parents of youngsters often remind their children to be careful of strangers. That is very wise advice. But when the child becomes a teen, many times those discussions are no longer given. A parent might take it for granted their teen is smart enough not to be fooled by an adult. Yet in the event that the parents do not caution their teens about the dangers of predators, whether it be a friend at school who offers some forbidden fruit like drugs or liquor, to an adult who has shown a little too much interest in the teen, it’s all the same. Even young men and women in their 20’s are kidnapped, raped, or murdered. If you read stories about famous serial killers, you would be shocked to learn how easily they fooled so many unsuspecting young men and women. There are dangers all around us.
What can we do to protect ourselves and our families? Several steps can be taken to provide for our security. Home security systems are a popular way to insure the safety of your family. Self defense classes are another. Pets such as large dogs are always good deterrent to intruders, and they protect families with all of their being. Just make sure that the pet has been trained to follow simple commands and is gentle with children and other pets. And lastly responsible adults who are willing to undergo training in handling a weapon are also an option. But if you decide to follow the latter, be sure you have taken steps to keep your weapon in a safe place away from other family members, take classes for target practice and safety, and always warn your family and children of the dangers that could happen if the weapon lands in the wrong hands. It is a deadly weapon. It kills.
Teach your young children how to dial for an emergency using 911 on the telephone. Designate a safe house, perhaps a very close well known and trusted neighbor, in the event they have to run to safety. Explain the dangers of following a friendly stranger. Make sure they know not to take shortcuts through lonely deserted places, even with a friend. Never send them to walk alone to a store, even if it’s only a block away. That’s all it takes for them to disappear forever. Remind your teens about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, no matter who offers. The same goes for young men. Teach them to treat others with respect, never to bully others. Teach them to be responsible for their actions. And young women should be warned about jealous boyfriends, stalkers, and getting into relationships with married men or with men who are involved in other relationships. It could lead to a life of misery and pain, or it could end in an early grave. The best advice you can give your child to help them succeed in life is to praise their efforts, teach them about morality and self respect, encourage their goals, give them a good education, and promote the self confidence they need to be independent, smart and responsible.