"Innocence is always unsuspicious" - Joseph Joubert
That is a quote that rings loudly in my head as I write today's blog to kick off the first school day of "Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Week" in New York State. It drives home two very profound thoughts that motivate all the volunteers at The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation. One, that children are probably only innocent for a very short time in today's society. It is difficult for parents to maintain their innocence with constant bombardment of advertising and a continual feed of "information" available through the media and the internet. Two, due to their innocent nature, it is very easy for a child to fall victim to circumstance. As somber as that sounds, we strive to maintain innocence in children for as long as possible - the world is tough enough without having to thrust them into adulthood prematurely. Enough philosophy - let me get to the point.
Since children may be tricked into a dangerous situation if their parents aren't around, here's what we can teach them without having to scare them. Creating a secret word with your child can be the key to making sure they may not be tricked into going with someone they should not. This will work outside the realm of stranger safety for it is very simple. If the child is not told the secret word, they do not go with that person.
Parents: Sit down with your child and create your very own secret word. It is a word that only you and your child will know. It is very important that you stress that they do not tell ANYONE this word. It will only be told to them, never the other way around. Once you have created it, teach your child that they will only hear this word if you cannot come to pick them up somewhere. You will be the only person in the world that can share this word and you will only do it in an emergency. Practice with them to show different circumstances where the word would be used. Now, no one will be able to tell your children that you were in an accident and that they sent that person to pick them up; they won't fall for the stranger offering them a ride to school; they even won't fall for a familiar person trying to trick them.