Today’s world can seem like a dangerous place, especially for children. While the adult world is concerned about terrorism, natural disasters and other large-scale emergencies, children are navigating their own world of potential threats. Situations that may not register as potentially harmful for an adult can distress a child if he or she isn’t prepared to handle it. The recent headlines about bullying serve as a tragic reminder that children might face dangers of which we’re not even aware.
So how can we protect our children when there are so many threats to their safety? Boys & Girls Clubs of America offers programs that give kids a chance to learn about potential threats and appropriate responses. Through role play and other fun activities, they get a chance to practice what to say and do in threatening situations. Clubs teach kids important skills such as resisting getting involved with drugs, violence or gangs. They teach kids how to be safe online and not get caught up in cyber-bullying. Some Clubs also teach more basic life skills, such as fire safety, being home alone, or what to do if you are lost. All of these are issues adults usually take for granted.
But what do these skills have to do with emergency preparedness? After all, this is a blog about how the steps we all need to take to be ready in case of floods, fires, tornadoes and other types of disasters.
Stop and think about it for a second. When we teach our children to stand up to bullies and seek help from others, they’re:
- learning to face a threatening situation calmly and with confidence.
- identifying the people who can help them when they’re in danger.
- developing skills that can help them in many situations beyond the one that we are specifically training them to handle.
Can you think of a better set of skills for a child to have when faced with an emergency?
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can just assume that our kids are ready for all types of emergencies. As parents and caregivers we have to prepare, plan and stay informed – and educate children at each point along the way. That’s why our local clubs have emergency plans in place and rehearse what to do in case they need to evacuate or take shelter. They understand that it’s important to know exactly where they need to go and what they need to do, and to practice in advance.
How are you helping your kids or community prepare?