new for us friday–stranger safety
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.
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.