Safety, by Mrs. Debbie Ragone, 1st Gup

My favorite time of year begins at Thanksgiving and stretches through to New Year’s Day.  It is such an exciting time to spend with family and friends.  The cold weather allows us time stay inside and get “reacquainted” with one another after busy summers and the start of a new school year.  Just like many of you, the kids and I spend hours busily shopping through crowded malls and shopping centers,  and traveling the highways to visit family and making those “pit stops” along the way.    

While I take time relax and enjoy my family, I also find that this is an important time to tighten the reigns on the safety rules with my children.  We follow the usual rules that most parents would.  Children don’t talk to strangers.  Never leave the children unattended in the mall.  Use the buddy system in the bathrooms.  Stay within a “Giant Step” of me or hold my hand.  Find an employee in the nearest store if you are lost and call security.  Do not go anywhere with anyone you don’t know.

Wouldn’t you know that as children get older, they begin to question and ask, ”What if?” “What if someone says you sent them?  What if they use brother’s name and say he is hurt?  What if they say they say our dog, “Fido” needs our help?  They know things about us.  How do we know?”  To answer those questions and any others they might challenge me with, our family developed a password.  We chose a word that all of us could agree on, and it worked better to chose something familiar yet somewhat funny to remember. This is a word that only we know and won’t share with our friends.  Once the word was chosen, we role played a few times so that all three children understood the procedures.  Ashleigh, the youngest, took the longest to understand how it would work, but now she has it down.  It did take us quite some time to work out all of the kinks, so be patient!

For us, it will work like this:  In the event, I can’t pick them up and send some one, they will be given the password.  Before my kiddos go with them, they are instructed to ask, “Do you know the password?” That person must use THE WORD.  If they don’t know the word, my children know, I did not send them and will not go with them.   Even if it is someone they know well- another parent, a friend of mine, or an instructor, the kiddos have been told not to go. They stay in that safe place and call me!   Even Master Todd can not take them home from TKD class without knowing the password! I challenge each of you to create a family password.  It eliminates the question “What if?” 

This year, enjoy the holidays and your children.  Keep them safe and aware.  After all, they are our most precious gifts!



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