Child safety: Training on what makes a ‘safe’ adult helps

December, 2017 Posted in Community, Your Health

By Melissa Wagoner

Stranger danger, the idea that unknown people can pose a threat, is an important topic for parents but it can also be a difficult one to broach. Many parents worry about instilling a fear of the unfamiliar or causing undo worry. But Anisa Taft, an employee at Silverton Self Defense, sees it differently.

“It is crucial for children to understand their power,” she said. “We teach multiple aspects of safety to children.”

The approach is a positive one. Instead of filling children with possible dangers, they identify the three main signifiers of a trustworthy adult. They explain that safe adults do not ask children for assistance, they respect both yes and no answers and they always approve of a child asking a parent for permission or guidance.

If the criteria are not met, children are taught to create personal space.

“We understand that words are not always enough to send a clear signal, so the very first level of our karate classes teaches two styles of kicks aimed at keeping distance,” Taft said. “We also teach clear definition between using force and creating space with peers when no danger is present.”

Taft said that with peers students are told to “try once to use calm words, try a second time with a big voice, then extend your arms to create space with strong words again.” She said that at that point an adult will typically have stepped in to help.

Lessons dealing with adult interactions are different. Taft said there are no restrictions because “a safe adult would notice the child’s distress immediately and give space.”

Instead students are told to run if they can and make a big scene if they can’t run.

She advocates teaching similar tactics to adults, who are often a child’s first line of self-defense.

“We have free women’s self-defense classes where we teach ‘high-percentage moves’ which are the most likely to be effective with the least amount of training,” she said.

“This includes multiple techniques to release holds on the wrist, hair and torso, defensive and offensive strikes/kicks as well as techniques to gain control of a situation if someone has pinned you to the ground.”

Taft believes all of the safety lessons are an important way to spread the word.

“The more times and the more people a child is encouraged by to speak up and stand up for their safety, the easier it will be for them to identify an adult who is not fostering safety,” she said. 

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