There are some obvious things we think of when it comes to securing our families. Make sure all the doors have deadbolts. Install double paned, double locking windows. Make sure every one in the house has access to a panic button. If you can (and depending on where you live you should), have a security system installed and pay the $30 per month monitoring fee.
These are the basics. We shouldn’t need to have to talk about these things anymore. It’s not difficult to find home security systems equipment packages that include individual keychain fobs that can arm, disarm, and sound the alarm in a crisis. These are all good things. But your family does not spend all their time inside of the home. There is real danger outside the home.
Here are some ways to protect your family when they are away from the fortress:
Cell Phone Sense
Cellphones provide security for kids. Not only do they provide a way for parents to contact their kids at any time, they can allow parents to track the location of their kids without a nagging phone call. While that provides peace of mind for the parent, the child is afforded a means of calling for help in sticky situations. It is difficult for a kid with a cellphone to get truly lost these days. In even stickier situations, 911 is pretty easy to dial. Often, that will be enough to bring in the calvary.
But both parent and child need to be educated about sensible cellphone use as a security measure. First, no cellphone is any good for security if the battery is dead. Make sure you choose a phone with an all-day battery life. Also, make sure that the kids are not playing Candy Crush all day with the screen on full brightness. There is almost no phone that can handle that with any power left for an emergency call at the end of a school day.
A flip phone may be a better choice than something like an iPhone because it will have battery life for days without a charge. It can do very little besides make phone calls. And the monthly plans will be cheap. For all the other goodies, you can get them an iPod touch. I personally think it is alright to get kids a cell phone as soon as they are old enough to be out by themselves. Maybe they shouldn’t get an iPhone right away. That will just make them a target. But a cell phone is like a panic button, for you and for them.
How old were your kids when they got their first cell phone?
Have you any idea how often plan A doesn’t work? When your kid tries to call you, can you be certain that you will not be in the kind of meeting that cannot be interrupted? Can you guarantee that you will not be driving through a tunnel with no cell signal? Of course not!
What you and your family need is a backup plan. They need a designated group of people they can call when they can’t reach you. They need a designated friend’s house to go to when they can’t go home. You don’t want the situation to fall apart simply because plan A didn’t work out. Plan A never works out. Once you have a good plan B, start working on plan C.
Does your family have a Plan B? A friend or house the kids know they can go to in an emergency?
Raise confident well-informed children
In the end, the best security measure is information. Parents often endanger their children, not by what they do, but by what they don’t do. We want to shelter our kids for as long as possible. This makes us want to protect them from knowing just how dangerous the world really is. But if a child does not know the dangers, she is many times more likely to become a victim of those dangers. Knowledge is power. And an empowered child is a confident child.
When we teach children not to talk back to adults, that makes them quiet and docile when they don’t need to be. Rather, we should teach them how to appropriately talk back to adults, and know when not to use the indoor voice. They already know how to run and scratch and bite. Let them know when to do it, and how to do it even better. Let them know who they can trust, and be suspicious of everyone else. Children cannot afford to be ignorant of the dangers they face. There are ways to inform them without destroying their childhood. The destruction of their childhood is far more likely without sufficient information and confidence.
No one thing can fully secure your family from all of life’s dangers. But even without extraordinary measures, your home is already the safest place your family will be. For real security and peace of mind, think outside of the home.