After hearing about Jerry Sandusky's conviction, I quietly thought, "Yay." Though "yay" is not exactly the best outburst for a crime of his nature, it's what came out. To be honest, my life before kids, I hadn't given much thought to child predators. I grew up with Times Square as the mecca of child prostitutes and drug addicts - danger was pretty clear.
After becoming a parent, however, everything changed. Every corner, every face, every situation became a potential risk factor. And don't say you've never experienced that heart-stopping moment when you've lost view of your kid and thought the worst.
Kids run off - it happens. I am constantly yelling like a mad-woman for the boys to stop running before they reach the end of the block or not to turn the corner or stop running off to prove their manhood.
Until this workshop I attended, I'd been telling the boys about "child predators." I gave them the whole "there are bad people who do bad things to children," speech. But the workshop presented by Yello Dyno, shed some light to the way kids think and why my methods weren't working. Now that one child molester is behind bars, it seemed the best time to share what I learned.
"Tricky people," that's what Yello Dyno calls these predators. Say predator, monster, even bad people and kids automatically picture pirates, the wolf man or Ronald McDonald, although I always thought Burger King looked suspicious.
"Tricky people" can be anybody - it's not what they look like, it's what they ask you to do that matters. Never take anything or go anywhere with anybody unless you ask first. I know, I know - easier said then done.
Next I told the boys if we ever get separated they should go to the cashier (if we're in a store) or seek a mother with kids in tow or an officer/security guard.
Notice how the officer is the last resort?
That was in the presentation. But in my opinion, the "mother with kids" sits best with me. No mother would brush off a kid asking for help in finding his or her mommy. Unless that mother is Jacole Prince.
Finally, the boys practiced yelling "Help, this is NOT my mommy/daddy!" at the top of their lungs.
They were a little reluctant at first but they got the hang of it, especially the yelling part. When I told them how in my day, we were told to yell "Fire" to get attention, they said, we'd have better luck screaming "Pickles!!"
Can you picture a woman fighting off her attacker yelling, "Pickles! Help me, Pickles!"