by Tracee Sioux
I checked out The Safe Side Stranger Safety video, produced by John Walsh of America's Most Wanted and Julie Clark of Baby Einstein.
I recommend this to every parent of young children. Both my kids, one and six, were mesmerized by the over-the-top Safe Side Superchick who teaches the kids the way to "be on the safe side."
Rather than the word stranger, which is confusing to children, they use Don't Know and Kinda Know.
Mom, Dad and Grandma are Safe Side Adults. Parents give children a list of 3 Safe Side Adults who are always trustworthy and on their Safe Side List. These are the people who can pick them up from school or take them on outings.
Don't Knows include anyone they don't know. Ice cream man, nice stranger in a store, another parent in the park - everyone they don't know. Children are not to speak to them or give them information unless they are in the presence of their Safe Side Adult.
Kinda Knows are anyone the child recognizes, but who are not on the safe side adult list. Kinda Knows include coaches, teachers, church acquaintances, extended relatives, family friends, neighbors and friends' parents. Kids kinda know them, but sometimes people we know might harm us. Kids are told to stay on the safe side by not being alone with them or going anywhere with them without parental permission.
I particularly liked the personal space concept. Too often we don't teach children that they have a right to their own personal space. If someone gets too close on the playground or in a store - the video tells them just to run away. Viewers are taught that they have a right to their personal space of about 10 feet around them. One great example was a car pulling up too close. The children didn't wait to find out why, they just ran.
The focus is on safety over being polite. Which was a great reminder to me, because I often encourage polite interaction with strangers in stores. Children are only expected to be polite if their safe side adult is with them and give permission.
It's a shame, but it's appropriate and necessary for children to be clued in that some adults could hurt them. The information was presented in such a way as to not scare children, but to make them feel more powerful when making quick decisions in the face of danger.
I thought this was a well produced film to teach children safety rules. My kids loved it. Stranger Safety would make a great Christmas gift, with its high-tech equivalentThe Safe Side - Internet Safety.
For more Safe Side Hot Tips visit www.thesafeside.com.