Tuesday, March 18, 2008

No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps (Part4)

"Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you" (Proverbs 2:11, NIV).

In his book No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps, Paul Coughlin devotes one chapter to stopping adult predators from preying on our children. These are some of his tips:

*"Teach your child to say to a stranger, or to someone they know but do not trust, 'I didn't ask for your help, and I don't want it. Leave me alone.' This isn't wrong. It's wise" (p. 83). Predators build trust and a sense of obligation by appearing to be helpful.

*"Teach your child he does not have to answer every question put to him. In some cases, short answers like 'Whatever' are appropriate" (p. 84). This is useful when a predator asks something like, "You're not too scared to disagree with your parents, are you?" A child does not need to play stupid mind games.

*Teach your child to refuse to negotiate with people they do not trust. If your daughter wants to refuse help, she should not say, "I really appreciate your offer, but let me try to do it myself first." Instead she should say, "Bug off!" "Teach her to look a person in the eyes with strength, to walk away, and to be loud if necessary. De Becker says, 'You cannot turn a decent man into a violent one by being momentarily rude, but you can present yourself as an ideal target by appearing too timid" (p. 85).

*"If your kid is lost in public, train him to ask a woman for help before asking a man" (p.85). Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother is more likely than a father to physically abuse her child. However, conventional wisdom is correct in believing that a woman is less likely to be a sexual predator. An unknown woman is usually safer for a child who is lost.

*"Kids need to know we'll protect them" (p.88). They need to know that we are safe. We will listen without criticism. We will not punish them. We will not be devastated. We will be strong enough to deal with the situation. We will defend them even if it means going up against a family member, friend, or authority figure (like a teacher, coach, minister, or police officer). Our children will be protected from predators.

*The National Alert Registry (http://www.registeredoffenderslist.org) can help us be aware of convicted sex offenders in our areas, so that we can avoid them if possible or watch them closely if necessary. The National Alert Registry charges $10 for its services. However, you may be able to get the same information for free by searching the Internet for your state government's sex offender registry. I did a search this morning and found Oklahoma's sex offenders registry at http://docapp8.doc.state.ok.us/servlet/page?_pageid=190&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30.

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