new for us friday–stranger safety

Aug 14, 2009 // 11 comments // Categories: new for us friday, parenting.

This New For Us Friday makes my stomach turn and my eyes tear–seriously.

But it is so important that we had to try it out this week, especially with Maddy starting Kindergarten this fall.

So for about 15 minutes each night this week, ending today, we watched a tiny bit of a video that came recommended to me by one of my best pals.

It’s the Stranger Safety DVD created by Julie Clark (Baby Einstein creator) and John Walsh (America’s Most Wanted creator and lifetime advocate for missing and exploited children).

Here’s how it went:

  • The Safe Side–Stranger Safety DVD: We played it like a Movie Night on Tuesday; after Maddy, Owen, and Cora had baths and while they had their snacks, I said, We’re going to watch a movie this week–a little bit each night. We’re starting tonight!

The kids went nutty and flew down the stairs. They were buzzing about what it would be–Cars? Monsters, Inc? Tink? I told them it was a little different–a new one for them and one that was super important to watch.

They could tell by the tone of my voice that something was up, and I fear that my own anxiety was palpable. I tried to play it cool, but when I watched the DVD for the first time with my husband a few months ago, I ugly cried at the end.

It’s a rite of passage for our little ones–the understanding that not everyone out there is to be trusted and the world is not as safe as they think, and it’s a rite of passage for parents to hand over that information.

So we watched it in four segments, and although the video stops at points for parents to talk with their children about the topics, I stopped it more frequently to clarify points, answer questions, and add some information. And since Maddy, Owen, and Cora (along for the ride and missed one night because of no nap) are young, I wanted to give them smaller, easier-to-digest doses.

Here’s the skinny on the The Safe Side Stranger Safety. . .

I love that:

  • the video is upbeat and as positive as possible about a very tough topic;
  • the website contains a PDF family guide (35 pages!) that includes some resources for parents to read before viewing the DVD with their kids;
  • the four main activities in the family guide totally rock (Pre- and During-Viewing Activities; Post-viewing Discussion Points and Activities; Post-Viewing Celebration Ceremony Activities, Post-Viewing Trivia Game);
  • the family guide also includes information sheets and data forms for children and parents;
  • the Safe Side Super Chick (SSSC) is funny, straightforward, sassy, and easy for children to understand;
  • the SSSC wears red (for danger), yellow (warning), and green (safe) shirts to demonstrate what kind of situation she’s in; [Owen really responded to this--he kept his eye on her shirt color the whole time and warned us when it changed.]
  • they focus on the difference between Don’t Know’s and Kinda Know’s;
  • they teach kids to ‘think and beware of tricks’;
  • they tell children to create a ‘safe side circle’;
  • they insist that right there and then parents list three other Safe Side Adults;
  • the SSSC talks directly to viewers (young children) and acknowledges their fears and shows them how to yell, scream, and make sure they keep themselves safe;
  • the DVD explains a concept and then shows a child in that situation, making the correct choice;
  • they never mention ‘Stranger’ throughout the entire program because they want to make sure it’s clear that rarely do the bad guys actually look the part.

I wish that:

  • they would have toned-down the SSSC’s crazy hair and lost the not-so-funny ape;

Seriously, this program is that good. That’s all I could come up with.

My plan is to show The Safe Side Stranger Safety a few more times in the next few weeks, not to scare my kids but rather to make it a normal topic, an easy, familiar one for them. I know that there’s a fine line between knowledge as power and too much information as over-kill, so I am definitely going to keep a balance here.

I want them to know their Safe Side Adults like the back of their hands, and I want them to be aware of their surroundings–knowing the perimeter of their Safe Side Circle and the difference between their Don’t Know’s and Kinda Knows.

I’m praying that they never, ever, ever have to use this information and that this NFUF is as hard as they get for us.

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Comments

comments

Comment (11) | Leave a comment

  1. Hi! It's Stacey from CreateaBalance.com – we met at BlogHer09. My son is starting kindergarten in the fall and your post almost made me "ugly cry". I have not showed my son any such video (and didn't even think to show him a video like this). Oh boy, I have lots to learn from you. The thought of my oldest going into kindergarten and into the "real world" is beyond my comprehension. I'm off to out such a video onto my to do list. Thanks for my teaching this mama to get her act together on stranger safety.

    Reply
    Stacey / Create a Balance for Moms
    15/08/2009
  2. It makes me feel sick to think about this. Especially since there are all too many times that one of my three gets away from me and I have to take my eyes off the other two. I should probably start working on this with them now that they're no longer babies – but the four year old has so many delays, he's similar to the two year old twins who are…two. Well – at any rate, it's a good reminder to stay vigilant in the meantime.

    And I honestly think that this may be a good starting point. My oldest in particular really does seem to respond well to DVDs as a learning tool. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Reply
    Kate Coveny Hood
    15/08/2009
  3. Thank you for this post. I appreciate the review on the DVD. Our library has a copy, and I was considering it for my little one. We'll definitely check it out–I've already downloaded the .pdfs from the website. Thanks again for the help with this very important topic.

    Reply
    Julie
    15/08/2009
  4. Thank you for sharing, what an interesting resource. What ages would you say the DVD is best suited for?

    In my early childhood work with families I have generally found that we have moved away from 'Stranger Danger' type messages to 'Protective Behaviours,' ie. recognising when you don't feel safe and how to respond and who to talk to. This DVD seems to fit within that category.

    Thank you, I found this really useful.

    Christie
    http://childhood101.blogspot.com/

    Reply
    Christie Burnett
    15/08/2009
  5. We just bought this DVD but have not watched it yet. Honestly, I have been procrastinating. Horrible. We are going to start watching this week because C will be starting Kindergarten in Sept too and it's time to face my fears.

    Reply
    Christy
    15/08/2009
  6. This is a subject I don't even want to think about and it makes me sad that we have to teach this ugly truth to our innocent children. My oldest starts kindergarten in a week and for the first time I will not always be near her to keep her safe. It is definitely time to teach her about stranger safety so I just requested this video from the library. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Reply
    Denise
    15/08/2009
  7. Thanks AMY for this recommendation. We were just exploring this topic last week… I'm putting this on my to rent video list!!!!

    Reply
    Katherine Marie!
    15/08/2009
  8. I might have to check this out. My kids don't get this stuff totally yet. It's not a fun subject though, is it?

    Reply
    Stimey
    16/08/2009
  9. Thanks for the review. We have talked about safety like this before, but I have wanted to try out a DVD like this to continue the conversation. As with most moms, my children in danger of being harmed by someone is a big fear. I don't want my kids to live in fear. It sounds like this video is focused on equipping children rather than scaring them. I think I'll try it too.

    Reply
    Stacie @ newmommyhelp.net
    16/08/2009
  10. Just reading this post made my heart beat faster. I think it's so sad that we have to make our kids watch videos like this. So sad!!! I've often thought about how to bring this up with my girls. I don't want to scare them but it's so important that they know these people are out there. Thanks for this post. I will look into it.

    Reply
    Anne
    17/08/2009
  11. thanks for sharing this. I also need to begin these conversations with my upcoming Kindergartner.

    Reply
    Alycia in Va.
    19/08/2009

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