National Missing Children's Day is coming up tomorrow, May 25. This is an annual reminder for me and always brings up questions: Are we still are failing our children by choosing to disbelieve them, discredit them, and fail to honor them as the people who deserve to be heard and protected? Are the cases that we know about -- the Caylees, the Haleighs, the Natalees -- really representative of the hundreds of cases that don't get media attention and yet are happening in cities and counties all over the country every day? I take it as my personal responsibility to share important and lesser known cases with the public. Like the case of Mitrice Richardson. If you have never heard of this case, please check it out at: www.findmitrice.info
As trite and over-used as the expression seems, "Knowledge truly is power." I am not suggesting that parents need to tell kids about the gruesome details of every case in the news, or grill them with statistics. And I'm not suggesting we all need to operate out of fear or concentrate on this every single day. But you can take at least ONE day this year to focus on your child's (or grandchild, G-d child, niece, nephew, cousin, etc.) safety as a priority. Youngsters need to have a solid understanding of how they can defend themselves in ways appropriate to their age. As teachable moments arise in your daily life, keep these safety tips in mind:
1. Be consistent with your messaging with your kids.
2. Become tech savvy, not tech-fearful. In other words - enter the 20th century and get Facebook!
3. Empower your children. Make them understand that you trust them and are trustworthy.
4. Listen to your instincts and teach your children how to find theirs. Find the ut-oh moments.
5. As parents we need to teach our children to find a trusted adult, even if it is not us as the parent, as a safe person to disclose to, if necessary. This is the 'telling person' in your child's life.
Safety talks are difficult for many parents to broach, as they bring them face-to-face with fear of events out of their control. However, children depend on adults to teach them how to be safe. Such talks are also a great opportunity to bond and learn from your child.
May 25 is simply one day, one reminder about our children, but use this day to remind yourself that our children depend on us to empower them, honor them and especially protect them every day! Here is a final tip from the Klaas Kids Foundation: You can make a wonderful contribution to your children’s safety by reviewing our free Child Safety Kit. You can then set aside some special time on Tuesday, May 25 to role play with your children the safety lessons that are most pertinent to their lives. If you would like to order your personal free Child Safety Kit, please click here.