"I don't even call it violence when it's in self-defense; I call it intelligence."
This week in a class at Direct Action Tactical called Kid Fit and Aware it was painfully obvious that one of the children was very bothered by the recent events in the news. She has been inundated with stories of children being the victims of violence.
Shortly after that, a few parents I know were also asking me how to handle their fear of even letting their kids out of their sight.
My disclaimer before I begin this is that this is my opinion. My experience or ideas come from what I instruct, what I've read and from being a parent myself.
There is no reason children should be exposed to the news on a daily basis. I understand wanting them to be aware of the world around them but national news is horrifying. Terrible things happen every minute all over the United States. It's a huge country! The media makes it sound like it's in your backyard.
Don't misunderstand me, it can be in your backyard. So when that fear presents itself do you change your life?
But not in a way that incapacitates you but instead strengthens you.
The best thing you can do is add knowledge to your tool belt.
Think of it as knowing CPR and never needing it. Putting your seat belt on but never having an accident. Having a fire extinguisher but never having a fire.
We can give that to our children as well. We teach our kids to eat vegetables, tie their shoes, wash their hands and do their homework. We can teach them about stranger danger and the buddy system. We can not put their name where people can see, have a safety word, make them aware of the world around them without taking away their basic right to go through their day without wondering when the Boogeyman will attack.
Fear is not a bad thing. A fantastic book on this subject is Gavin De Becker's The Gift of Fear. Fear is what drives that little voice inside of you that says something feels wrong. It's what makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up and sometimes alter what you're doing as a safety measure.
But you can't be ruled by it. You can't put your kids in a bubble or lock yourself away from society. Your children can play on a playground, go to school, ride their bikes and be children. If fear is destroying the quality of your life, the joy in your children, then the Boogeyman has already taken something. You're already a victim.
Two things I've learned in my seven years working with children in this respect:
1) They think the bad guy will look like a bad guy. I set up one of my Youth Impact classes with a test. They were to walk around the building and a police officer friend of mine was in plain clothes "working" on his car. He asked each kid for help. One of my students GOT IN THE CAR. Why?? The guy was so nice.
2) Kids have a strange illusion of grandeur that they will go all Jackie Chan on a bad guy because they have a blue belt in Karate, do it in a video game, saw it in a movie....you get the idea. Kids need to know that they are no match for an adult. They need to yell and run and if that doesn't work they need to bite, kick, gouge, throw up, wiggle, do whatever it takes to get away from that person. They need to realize that they are to never stop fighting.
Let yourself believe that most people are good. The crazy, violent or sick are the rare exceptions. Chances are that most of the students that come through our classes will never have to use what we give them. But if they do they'll have the knowledge, the intelligence to do something about it.
I'm not saying our program is the answer but simply having the question will open your eyes and have you on the right path.
Remember School House Rock? Knowledge is power!!!