TOP 15 SELF DEFENCE MISTAKES MADE BY KIDS
Our children are born into the world naïve, innocent and naturally trusting. It’s our job as parents to help teach them about the world and how they can best navigate people, places and situations in the pursuit of personal joy and happiness. Sadly, there are many mistakes kids make along the way! Here are the top 15 errors that kids make from a safety and self defence perspective:
1. THEY THINK NAUGHTY PEOPLE LOOK NAUGHTY
Have you ever asked your children what a stranger looks like? We have. We ask kids all the time. They invariably say a stranger is a fat ugly man who smokes. Given that a stranger is simply anyone that your family doesn’t know well, we all know this description is very wrong!
But what is most wrong about it is the fact that children naively believe that “bad strangers” will always look scary, like the villains in cartoons. This is not only untrue, but it’s dangerous for children to think this way. Pretty strangers can be just as dangerous as the not-so-pretty ones. Strangers with ill intent can be young or old, thick or thin, black or white, woman or man. Typically, of course, they are men.
But contrary to what kids think, they will not stink and have a cigarette hanging from their mouth. Rather, the ‘naughty man’ will actually be quite friendly. He’ll say he knows their mum. He’ll offer the child lollies. He’ll have free stuff in his car for kids.
2. THEY THINK THEY ARE SAFE IN PUBLIC SPACES
Children incorrectly assign a level of safety from being in public. We know this from experience and anecdote, but also from a number multiple research papers and criminology reports For example, a group of convicted rapist were interviewed and asked where they would look for a potential victim. The number one place they said they target victims is grocery store carparks. Number two is office parking lots/garages. Number three is public restrooms. Most abductions happen in public spaces; just look at the most recent series of abductions in Australia, where children were taken from places that include a campsite, playground, skatepark and on a public footpath.
3. THEY MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS
It is widely known in the self defence community that 90% of violent encounters can be avoided by confident body language, situational awareness or positive action to avoid or run away from incidents. The old adage, “mind your own business” is, in fact, contrary to the fundamental principle of self defence, which is about building habits which help you de-escalate confrontation or avoid it altogether. Knowing the who, what, when, where and why of your surroundings is absolutely key to this. It will mean your child notices the van following them on the street; your child sees the man approaching with a knife; or maybe they hear the front door open when they are home alone.
If an incident does occur, your child also knows where they are if they need to call police, can say what brand of shirt the perpetrator was wearing or can tell the police about the tattoo on the back of the naughty-man’s neck. It also decreases their chances of even being targeted by a perpetrator in the first place, as predators target weak, unconfident and vulnerable looking children. Children incorrectly go about the world inside their own heads ‘minding their own business’, rather than being situationally aware at all times to be forthright in the world.
4. THEY CONFUSE AGRESSION WITH ASSERTIVENESS
Most children are not naturally assertive and therefore not ordinarily inclined to stand up for themselves. They also typically confuse the concepts and differences between being assertive and being aggressive. Aggressive kids try to force other people to think like them or do things their way. Meanwhile, assertive kids are respectful of other people's differences and ideas but aren't afraid to assert their own beliefs and ideas. Assertive kids, feel comfortable defending themselves when someone says or does something hurtful.
5. THEY THINK KIDS SHOULD ALWAYS USE MANNERS AND NOT BE RUDE
To know that their safety comes first and foremost, kids need to understand that being rude is sometimes required to navigate safely through life. Most kids falsely assume the narrative that they must always use their manners with adults! In reality, the feelings of another person comes a very distant second to your child's safety needs. Your kids should have permission to do whatever they have to in order to make themselves safe, even if that means telling an adult to go away, refusing to ‘help’ an adult, not letting someone touch them, revealing information they were told to keep “secret”, or yelling loudly if a stranger approaches them.
A child’s ability to verbally assert themselves can be enough to deter a would-be predator or to deny a school bully the emotional result they want. A child standing up for themselves is a learnt skill and must be taught.
6. THEY TRUST PEOPLE CLOSE TO THEM
Kids are naturally trusting, and easily emotionally attach themselves to those who are close to them, including their teacher, soccer coach, guitar teacher and uncle. Sadly, the statistics tell us these are the most likely people to groom children and abuse their trust in horrific ways. Nnothing can prepare them for the lengths a predator will go to trying to access a child. Predators will always be found in any target-rich environment where children frequent, including schools, family gatherings and sporting clubs. They will charm their way through personal and professional settings. They get away with it by ingratiating themselves in subtle but significant ways. Ultimately, these are the “bad guys” and they can be very patient before really showing just how bad they can be.
7. THEY THINK A PHONE PROVIDES SAFETY
Kids – older kids in particular – think that having a mobile phone with them provides a level of safety. But they are wrong. Kids think having a smartphone means they can call for help if needed. But did you know the average response time for police in Queensland is 11 minutes? This means that, even if your child does see an attack coming and has time to pull out their phone to make a 000 emergency call, they have at least 11 minutes alone with the attacker before help arrives.
Smartphones are smart, but they aren’t smart enough. They can’t predict an attack, and apart from being an implement you can hit with, a phone will do little to help a child if a predator chooses him or her as his victim. Don’t let your child rely on a smartphone for safety, but instead empower them with essential self defence knowledge and skills that are effective immediately, not in 11 minutes.
8. THEY DON’T LISTEN TO THEIR GUT
Kids must listen to their instincts! Anything a little unusual or strange that makes them think, “well that’s weird” is your child’s instinct warning them something isn’t right. Sadly, kids typically do not listen to that inner voice and ignore their gut feelings. But personal safety relies a great deal on an ability to listen to what intuition is saying. If alarm bells are going off, it means awareness and alertness needs to be bought to the situation and perhaps spme action, whether that be turning to stare a man down or yelling or stopping at the closest store and staying there until he goes away.
9. THEY THINK RULES WILL PROTECT THEM
We hear victims explain how they got themselves into dangerous situations all the time; “Yes, the toilets were empty and I was alone, but I didn’t think a man would go into the female toilets”. Or, “Yes, the door was locked but I left the window open because I didn’t think anyone would enter that way”. Kids are taught to follow the rules, and therefore naturally assume others will also. But sadly, some do not. Kids must therefore be empowered with the skills to defend themselves, rather than relying on rules to protect you.
10. THEY ONLY THROW TANTRUMS FOR THEIR PARENTS
There is one time your child SHOULD throw a massive temper tantrum, and that’s when someone is trying to grab them! In this instance, kicking and screaming and thrashing around is literally the BEST thing your child can do. Just as it is effective against exasperated parents, the Temper Tantrum is effective self defence move for kids if they are grabbed or need to resisting being picked up, carried or thrown. Children should know that they SHOULD throw a massive tantrum if they ever feel threatened, and they will not get in trouble for it at home if they do.
11. THEY LET THEMSELVES BE TAKEN ELSEWHERE
Children (and adults too) should never, ever allow themselves to be moved to a secondary location. Unfortunately, most commonly, this usually happens when children are abducted, and it happens quickly before kids have the chance to realise what is happening to them. If the attacker can’t do what they intend to do at the primary location, you can guarantee it’s going to be bad news at the secondary location. Children must do everything they can to draw attention (kick, scratch, bite, scream, anchor etc) to obstruct the abduction attempt and remove the attacker’s greatest weapon - privacy!
12. THEY LET THINGS GO UP
An abductor needs to transport a child and do it quickly, so the longer the situation stays in one place the greater the chance of survival. Keeping things grounded is therefore a really important and effective way for children to defend themselves from abductions and assaults, but unfortunately not many kids know this. They let themselves get picked up the majority of the time! To help keep the situation grounded we teach the ‘low anchor’ technique. This is where kids wrap themselves tightly around an object or the abductors leg. It keeps the abductor from moving the child, getting in the car or driving off. It als stalls the situation so the child can scream and attack. Instead of pulling a child into the car, shutting the door and driving off the attacker now has a small child locked to his ankle screaming for help and biting his leg.
This situation isn’t what the attacker planned for and now there may be witnesses calling law enforcement or running to help. It will also instil panic in the abductor as he is fearing getting caught. Creating an anchor and attacking the leg is like trying to pick up a wild cat that doesn’t want to be picked up - it’s not going to go well!
13. THEY THINK STRANGERS ARE DANGEROUS
The ‘Stranger Danger’ message is very effective in highlighting for children what to do if they are confronted by a stranger. But over 98% of sexual crimes committed against primary school age children is by people they think they can trust. Most predators are, in fact, those who the ‘Stranger Danger’ message tells them are safe, like family members, family friends and sporting coaches. While ‘Stranger Danger’ is still a valid message in some settings, it is far more effective to teach our kids to think critically, make smart choices and to avoid predators. We suggest that you educate your child with a more complex message about recognising dangerous situations rather than people.
14. THEY THINK THEY ARE SAFE ONLINE IF THEY DON’T GIVE PERSONAL DETAILS
Online safety is one of the biggest issues we face in protecting our children. More than 1 in 4 Australians aged from 11 years old – 16 years old say they are in communication with people they first met online, unconnected with their offline social networks. Sadly, sex offenders are reaching out to children through social media platforms and coercing them into sharing inappropriate or naked pictures of themselves, which is secretly captured and shared in the darkest corners of the internet.
15. THEY KEEP SECRETS
One of the most important things we recommend for families is a “no secrets” policy. You will never hear us say to our kids, “don't tell”. Teach your children that, if anybody ever asks them to keep a secret, they should tell mum or dad right away. Secrets rarely bode well for innocent children and have forever harboured crimes and atrocities against kids from predators threatening retribution if kids ever “tell”.
We hope these common mistakes made by children help you in educating and teaching your own children better ways to protect themselves as they go about their lives in the world. If you would like a demonstration of these lessons, or would like your children to learn them in-person with us, grab one of the few remaining tickets to our upcoming courses. It’s a $49 and 2-hour investment in your child that you will never regret.
Book WARANA on 29 May 2022 at: https://www.trybooking.com/BZHRO
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Because one child is too many.