Would Your Child Follow a Stranger for Puppies?

The moment my first child began walking my greatest fear in life changed. Previously, it was the thought of being covered by hundreds of cockroaches with no escape in sight (which is still my second greatest fear). However, when my toddler began exploring the world on her own two feet, my greatest fear became child abduction. 

Fast forward six years later, and my greatest fear remains the same. A raggedy ice cream truck drove through our neighborhood this past summer, and I literally ran my kids inside. True story! As moms we make ourselves crazy over safety, but are our kids really getting the message?

You may have seen the social experiment by Joseph Saladino where he lures kids away with puppies. My child would never go with a stranger, we all think. Saladino showed video after video where every child walked away with him. Terrifying!

The Safe Side:

I made it my mission to find information about safety that my kids would actually absorb. The Safe Side Super Chick came to the rescue with a video created by Julie Clark (founder of Baby Einstein and WeeSchool) and John Walsh (America’s Most Wanted and The Hunt). Is it the cheesiest video I have ever seen? Probably! Do my kids love it and ask to watch it again and again? Absolutely!

You can access the free video and a ton of other helpful information at their website http://www.thesafeside.com. Here are some pointers from “The Safe Side” minus the cheese:

People are either Safe Side Adults, Don’t Knows, or Kinda Knows.

  1. The SSA (Safe Side Adult) are usually the parents, and then they give the child a list of three other adults that are safe (like grandparents or babysitters).
  2. Don’t Knows are people that may look nice, but they could be dangerous. Your child must ask their SSA for permission to speak to them.
  3. Kinda Knows are people that are not immediate family or part of the SSA List like coaches, teachers, neighbors, doctors, or family friends. Kids should never go anywhere alone with a Kinda Know without permission from the SSA.

I love these categories because they were easy for my kids to understand, and they acknowledge the fact that kids should be cautious around Kinda Knows as much as Don’t Knows. Statistically speaking, kids are more likely to be harmed by people they know. 

There are Hot Tips throughout the video, and these are my favorites:

  1. When at home, your child should never open the door without the SSA. 
  2. If lost, your child should look for another mom with kids and ask for help. (I also recommend that older children memorize your phone number. I like to randomly quiz mine to make sure they remember. Younger children can start with learning your name instead of “Mommy” in case you’re somewhere they would need to call your name over the intercom.)
  3. If a Don’t Know tries to lure your child away, have them yell, “Help! This is not my Mom, or this is not my Dad!” The video actually has your kids practice yelling this out loud.
  4. Think and be aware of tricks! Adults should never ask a child for help. So if they do, your child should know it’s a trick! 

I will mention that the video is for children 4 and older. The first time we watched it, my son was barely four and he asked why we would ever be separated then burst into tears (which I will remind him of the day he leaves for college). My daughter loves to walk around the house shouting, “Help! This is not my mom!” I guess practice makes perfect. 

Do you have clever ways you’ve taught your kids about safety?

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Even though I hail from a small town in South Georgia, I have always been a city girl at heart. Atlanta, specifically Gwinnett County, finally feels like my true home. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for thirteen years, and we have two kids in elementary school. I may be in my mid-thirties (yikes!), but I still feel around twenty-three in my mind (and probably always will). I love my job as a liability defense attorney, and my absolute favorite things in life are spending time with family and friends, live music, reading, writing, bourbon, and traveling. When our kids graduate high school, my husband and I plan to sell all of our worldly possessions and see how long we can live in Ireland before they kick us out!