Predators Among Us
With the recent headlines of Laycee Dugard and the murder and mutilation of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky in Brooklyn, New York in his own neighborhood, I thought it appropriate that we discuss the issue of child predators and the skills we need as parents and our kids need to protect themselves from these animals. Since the mission of HCS is to empower the average civilian to defend himself and their family/loved ones from all types of enemies, for those of us with children, this type of enemy tops the list In My Opinion and must be our top priority.
The bottom line is we cannot be around our kids 24/7, 365 and the training we are going to discuss is going to involve you sitting down with your kids and explaining it to them in a way they can understand. It is also going to involve doing drills a few times a month to drive home the point and keep it fresh in their minds. There is a lot of talk out there in the mainstream media about not putting “fear” into our children when something like this happens. I have to disagree with this. I think Fear is a healthy, natural instinct that needs to be used in any survival situation. The issue is how we instill it into our children. I think by being brutally honest and not “sugar-coating” the story with your children about what happened to little Leiby and other children who have been kidnapped and murdered, including all the grisly details that you feel comfortable sharing, that fear will come naturally and your kids will realize that monsters do exist, and they are not living in the closet or under their beds, but are roaming the streets in their own neighborhoods.
The other big argument since all of this happened is “How young is too young for kids to walk home by themselves?” I realize this happened in New York State, but If you look at what Texas State Law states in relation to Child Endangerment or Child Abandonment, 15 years of age is the “cut off” age in the State of Texas. By “Endangerment” or “Abandonment” the legal definition is “To Leave a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child.” (Texas Penal Code 22.041). Granted, I do not think the Kletsky parents were intentionally trying to endanger Leiby, but trying to give him the independence of being a “big boy” that as parents we all want to try to instill in our kids around the ages of 8-10 and allow them to walk home from school or summer camp. Unfortunately, I think the days of letting kids (Under the age of 15) walk home alone and be anywhere in public alone or unsupervised are over. There is no other way around it. Do Kids over the age of 15 get abducted and murdered? Sure, but the statistics are much lower than kids between the ages of 6 and 13 according to the FBI National Database for Missing and Exploited Children.
So let’s get down to the nuts and bolt’s of keeping our kids safe:
- Never leave them unattended or alone in a public or other place that you do not trust. There is no grey area here. You are the parent and in charge of keeping your kid’s safe, not your friends or babysitter and certainly not the police.
- KNOW your neighbors as much as you can, if they are “stand-off” type people, if you can get a name and address, you can get a history/criminal profile online for $10. It is your right to know who lives around you and your kids. Remember: A Majority of time, it is people who know the child or have interacted with the child that commit these crimes, people who see them every day. Always try to Trust but Always VERIFY.
- Stay updated on your states child’s sex offender database, In Texas, it can be located HERE.
- Teach your Kids the basics of Avoidance and Awareness. AVOID dangerous places and DANGEROUS people (a good time to discuss choosing their friends wisely), and always be AWARE of their surroundings, wherever they are.
- Have regular talks with your kids about strangers and what do IF someone tries to approach them or touch them. Have role playing drills a couple times a month where you play the “bad man or woman”. Make sure they know who to go to in an emergency. Do not be afraid to teach them to be VIOLENT and LOUD (draw attention to the situation) to defend themselves, things that normally would be banned, should be encouraged: Yelling, Biting, Kicking in the genital area, poking in the eyes, etc. Teach them to fight dirty, after all, they are fighting for their lives… I train my kids twice a week in Combatives, which are very simple yet brutal techniques for self-defense. Be cautious of SOME Karate and Tae-Kwon-Do Classes, which mainly do not teach self-defense, but competition sparring for points, which is great for competition, but does little for effective street self-defense. I am a big fan of Krav-Maga, which is a form of Combative “street” self-defense developed by a Jewish man to defend himself against Nazi attacks.
- When there is a story on the news about a tragedy such as Leiby Kletsky, use it a tool to teach your kids that there are people out there who DO Hurt and Kill children.
The bottom line is we need to bring this issue to our kid’s attention as often as we can. The world is getting worse, not better, it is just a fact of life that we need to accept. Remember: Preparedness in All Things.