...have given your kids the tools they need to be safe when you are not around?
As a kid growing up in a typical American suburb in the mid-80s, our threats were limited to people physically coming to the door, or calling the landline phone to find out if kids were home alone. After a series of child abductions and home invasions in the surrounding areas, we were trained on how to respond when people came knocking or called the house. In time, we learned that we would need to be able to fend for ourselves in more ways than this. We learned that we could engage simple everyday behaviors to prevent wolves from crossing into our zones.
In the past two- to three decades, there has been a drop in self-security when it comes to kids. They don't realize the impact of letting a stranger inside, or giving out critical details, like who is home or who isn't home. Complete strangers have been given a level of trust that should never have come to pass. But you as a parent can help show kids the importance of security by encouraging protective behaviors up front and the alternatives should a predator cross the threshold: Run, Hide, and Fight.
This is self-explanatory. But is it feasible? Are your kids active enough to escape and do they have the knowledge of the neighborhood enough to be able to evade a slow-moving vehicle? By encouraging playtime behavior or games like Tag or heavy endurance team sports and building evasion into their playtime routines, you could be setting them up with skills without them realizing the hidden benefits.
If running is not possible, you may need to re-prioritize this tactic. Keeping kids physically fit is a critical part and is as easy as turning off (or getting rid of) the TV and technology that tends to pacify them. However, if you have a child with a disability or a hindrance, like a sprained ankle, broken bone, etc., emphasize the importance of strength in numbers and moving in packs.
Once they've put safe distance between the threat, they have a better chance at getting home without being followed.
Games like Hide-and-Seek, Capture the Flag, and Flashlight Tag are great ways to get kids to realize the potential for hiding spots - both inside and outside the home. A child's size is its greatest disadvantage in a fight, but a significant advantage when it comes to hiding.
Take a moment to consider hiding spots inside and out of your home-safe places for long-term safety until help arrives. Places like crawl spaces, cabinets, upper closet shelves, bushes, clothes racks and other secret hideouts can be built into your preparedness plan.
A safe room, or crawlspace hatch with a locking hasp inside the hatch can make a massive difference in the event of a home invasion. But make sure to keep a small amount of supplies handy and a secret knock or code word to let them know what the all-clear is so they can come out safely.
Fighting is something that is generally squelched at all levels of public education. However, the ability to fight, and to know when to fight, is a skill that should never be played off.
As kids, we play fight with our siblings and friends, we wrestle and on occasion catch a stray punch or kick. But controlling your actions and striking when appropriate is a far greater skill than random rage. I've witnessed a young judo pupil drop a grown man with a basic throw. It may not be much, but it could be the difference between making it home safely and making it on a missing child poster. Take a moment to consider forms of martial arts that can build skills, respect, and technique where there size means nothing.
Fighting forms like Wing-Chun, Aikido, Judo and Tai-Chi all emphasize the ability to do more with less and distance or disable an opponent using their size and lack of skill against them.
All-in-all, being safe from the moment they leave your sight to the moment they (or you) return home is part of everyday survival and awareness. By emphasizing these skills and allowing them to exercise their abilities in everyday play, you are showing them the true Kung-Fu skills of survival: That it surrounds us in everything we do. It is the way we engage in a sport, it is the way we disengage a conversation. It is in the way we act or react. It is in our ability to run, hide, or fight.