Uno is worried about being kidnapped.
I blame myself for that fear – when we went on our vacation our travels took us through two large, international airports and I talked seriously to the big girls about staying right with us and watching out for the little girls in our group. After all, when you’re traveling with five children aged 6 and under, caution is not a bad thing.
I didn’t expect the idea of kidnapping to get into her head, however. The past three weeks she’s asked almost every day what I would do in different situations. For example:
“Mommy, if someone tried to take me away from you in a mall, what would you do?”
I stop what I’m doing and look her straight in the eye. “I would try to kill them. You are my daughter, I love you, and will not let anyone hurt you if there is anything I can do to stop it.”
We’ve gone through many, many variations of this conversation.
I don’t consider myself a violent person, and truthfully, my physical strength is somewhere along the “weakling” range. But I guarantee, if anyone threatened my children or my husband, they had better expect to tangle with a mama bear.
I’m a pretty good shot with a rifle. Better than average.
This morning I ran errands with the girls. As we were pulling away from the bank, I heard Uno’s voice from the back seat of the Suburban, “Mommy, if someone came to our car and tried to steal us, I would unbuckle [from my car seat] and punch them in the nose.”
(This is coming from the child who was begging us to throw the mullet back in the ocean so no fish would die and spent a lot of time with a boiled shrimp cupped in her hand, wondering if it was ethical to eat it since it might have been a mommy.)
Uno sniffed with self-satisfaction. “It’s just not nice to steal children.”
I feel guilty that she knows there are people who steal children, but I’m glad she is recognizing there is a time to fight and a time to be peaceful.
I would like to live in a world where the most harm that could come is a skinned knee. I know I’m paranoid, but I think it’s foolish to believe there aren’t people truly motivated by evil, who, given the right opportunity, wouldn’t hesitate to hurt our children.
Jerry Sandusky, anyone? Michael Reagan, President Reagan’s son, the victim of child pornography? The recent case regarding a father’s accidental murder of the man assaulting his five-year-old daughter? Priests who abuse the trust of their congregations?
These things shouldn’t happen. They’re wrong. But they do happen and it’s foolish to pretend they can’t possibly happen to us when the statistics say, conservatively, that in the U.S. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are victims of sexual assault before the age of 20.
A child who fights against an attacker is overwhelmingly more likely to escape abduction or assault. It’s just not worth it for the attacker. It’s very powerful to teach kids that fighting is ok in specific circumstances.
I believe it’s important to instill a sense of respect in our children for the adults around them, but I also want them to know they can trust their gut instincts.
This article gives some great tips for how parents can help their children protect themselves, in addition I have a few things I’m working to teach our kids:
- Sleepovers aren’t happening
- We won’t force them to hug anyone they don’t want to touch
- Their bodies are special and shouldn’t be touched or seen by others
- We will notice and talk about potentially scary situations, environments, and activities
- They will know how to punch someone in the throat and poke their eyes out
What are some ways you safe guard yourself or your children?
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