What Do You Tell Your Kids About Strangers?

May 21, 2009

By Lance D’Aoust

I write this after hearing about the Tori Stafford case in Woodstock Ontario (Video Article here). Short version: An 8 year old girl willingly walked away from her school with a woman. Apparently that woman’s boyfriend killed Tori that same day, April 8th 2009. Absolutely disgusting and completely deserving of the death penalty.

This story leaves many parents obviously shaken, but more importantly worried about their own children and how they can help prevent this from happening again. Please comment on this article with what methods you employ to keep your kids safe. Here are some comments I’ve read from my friends own web-postings. It’s important to collect this information and distribute it to all parents because as we’ve just seen it is really that simple for major harm to happen to a child.

A.M.
I tell my ___ not to yell help but fire! Because stupid f__ks wont look when someone yells help cause they don’t want to get involved but they’ll look at a fire.

C.P.
“When my ___ were younger I told them to never go with ANYONE, even their aunts and uncles unless I told them to. If ANYONE (even friends and family) tell them to go with them, without me telling them to, they had to ask them what the secret password was.

We made up a password, that they would remember, and if I sent anyone for them I would tell it to them. That’s how they would know it’s ok to go with them. Once that password was used by someone, we thought up a new one.

And I told them that even if someone said I was hurt or in the hospital, don’t go with them. The only person exempt from the password was my mom. (just in case I was injured so bad I couldn’t speak).”

One tactic that I read about from a police officer was that if the child is on a bicycle DO NOT get off it. Hold onto that bike and bike away. If you’re grabbed, hang onto that bike because it is really hard to steal a child and the bike at the same time.

I like these ideas.  I taught my children to push their thumbs into their attacker’s eyeballs, to bite them repeatedly, anywhere and to fight for their lives; screaming “stranger,” “you’re not my daddy/mommy,” “fire” the whole time, kicking and generally making themselves difficult to steal or sneak away.  We go through it every time I think they’ll be out of my reach or go into crowded public areas. I even have them practice biting and thumb-poking (on me) so they can actually feel it and not be surprised if it ever happens.

An interesting note about the eye poking: The eyes are like balls of jelly and when you poke them they feel strange but they don’t burst. If an eye poke goes too far the eyeball will be forced out of it’s socket. Sounds gross and it is, and the reason I type this is because should this ever happen the surprise of the result can immobilize the child who should be running now that the attacker is blinded.

When I was little my mom would worry so much about me that I am surprised she didn’t have monthly heart attacks. I would try to reassure her by telling her that I would just kick the attacker in the ding-ding (my way of saying man’s privates). One day at around 13 I went out after midnight and stole a bike. I was riding the stolen bike around when a compact car full of undesirable people spotted me. I dodged them 3 times before they finally located me. One of them was on foot while the others drove. I pedaled that bike as fast as I could. I headed for an place I thought I could lose them, but having never been there at night I did not realize the gate would be closed. I was cornered. I knew it and so did they.

I tried to ride around them but 4 older teens or young men were too much for me on the bike. I had no idea what to do, no training, no prior instructions – nothing. They pretended to be off duty police who knew that I had stolen the bike. I didn’t buy the police bit but I remember wondering how they knew I stole the bike. They told me to put the bike into the hatchback and they would take me to the station. I played along, put the bike in the back and took off running. My hope was that had what they wanted and I would not be chased. Luckily for me they did not chase me.

I always told my mom I would kick them in the privates, but that never happened. I didn’t even think of it, and to be honest I am glad I didn’t because as a man I have been kicked there; I have seen others kicked there and I can say from experience that it will not stop an assailant. In every instance where a man has been kicked in the groin in a violent encounter it either didn’t do enough or it made the man angrier. Perhaps it is revenge or some other instinct.

A groin kick does not immobilize so it is a wasted effort.

Looking back at my experience I can’t help but realize a few things. Talking about what you’re going to do is not enough. Practicing it is very important and that’s why I practice the things I tell my children. They know that if they kick or punch me it will do nothing to stop me, and I am not a large person. They know that a bite will take my attention away and place it onto the bite. They know an eye poke will make me drop them. They know because they’ve done it already.

2 Comments
Damara
May 26, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

I live in a small city and reality is most times out a mind and out a site. Things dont really happen here. From haiving my first child
(I have 3 now) I choose not to read the fairytales story over and over I read stories that are real to my children. Real as in African Ezines, teach them about what goes on in different countries . The good and the bad. I want my children to know this can happen to you and someone close to you. I dont drill them I just tell them the truth. When I came across this story late april I have stuck with it since and I have prayed for beautiful Victoria. I then too became ill with how effected I was by this and not even living remotely close or knowing her/ anyone around her. I always stuck with the saying “it takes a community to come together and raise all are children”. I decided to read this story to my two older children who are not yet 9 years old and showed them pictures of Tori as well. Seeing is believing. My two oldest listen and then asked questions. Time to time now they still ask me about her. I tell them the truth. They too pray for her. We too practice calling out fire as apposed to help. My children in doubtable know not to talk to anyone. They know who they can talk to and thats that. I have my set peole in place who have permission to pick my children up. I also volunteer at school to know the children and their surroundings. It s all of us who are at fault when something goes wrongs with a child.

Jennifer
May 27, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

I’m from Guelph and I have a 7 yr old daughter turning 8 next week, so as you can imagin this has really hit home.
I also tell my daughter to yell fire!!!!
I have also asked her if she saw a lady or man crying holding a leash and they said they lost there dog, would she help….and how innocent she said yes we should help. I explained to her that NO ADULT should ever need help from a child, that if they need help they will ask another adult. I then asked her wjat if they said mommy was hurt really bad- would you go? This time she said that she wouls ask her babysitter or teacher. I again explained that any adult would go to another adult first….. It’s so scary, there are so many things that people can say to take our children because they are so trusting.

I also tell my daughter that if you get a feeling in you tummy that something is not right or that this is not ok….it is ok to be mean to that person weather you know then or not….because if they are telling the truth they will understand.

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