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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Great Review of My Book in the Examiner

Please read the excellent article written about my book by Dr. Sue Cornbluth, a writer for The Examiner. The article Dr.Cornbluth wrote is called “Protecting Our Children: A Great Book For Parents & Teachers By Melissa Ridenour”

As you know, seeing our children succeed and protecting them from harm is one of my deep passions in life. I always like to highlight other advocates’ work that empowers others to succeed at this goal. Melissa Ridenour is one of those people who has written a wonderful book called, “What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.” In her own words, “The book explains the concept of “stranger” to children in a reassuring way and teaches strategies to empower children to take a proactive role in staying safe from predator harm. It is ideally meant to be a shared experience between parent and child or between teacher and student. The book includes a chapter for parents and teachers as well.

Melissa says, “The creation of the book began with a traumatic memory from her childhood. When my best friend and I were in the fifth grade, more years ago than I care to think about, I awoke on a Monday morning to my mother having to explain to me that I wouldn’t see my friend in school anymore. She explained to me, as gently as she could, that my friend had been abducted, assaulted, and murdered the evening before. That was a difficult thing for me to understand at that age. But the trauma stuck with me thereafter. As a child, when I would walk to school, I would have to pass the spot where my friend’s body was discovered. I remember for the longest time running, terrified, past that spot each time. Adding to the tragedy of the story is the fact that her mother, the next year, committed suicide by hanging herself. She was never able to cope with the loss of her daughter, especially in such a violent way.
That haunting memory has always affected me, even as I became a mother myself. One of my greatest fears as a young mother, and even now that my children are grown with children of their own, is that something similar could happen to my children or grandchildren. That fear, combined with the alarming statistics regarding missing and exploited children is the second reason that prompted me to write a book that would teach children to take a pro-active role in staying safe from abduction, and to help parents and other care givers learn how to keep children safe from abduction or harm.”
Melissa knows about what she writes and speaks. She is a passionate advocate for protecting our children. Her book, “What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers”, is easy to read and gives you great tips on how to protect your children. The book can be purchased through the publisher, (Headline Books, Inc.), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Follett, Ingrams, and Baker & Taylor. More information about Melissa and her book can be accessed at Melissa Harker Ridenour Books –
Thank you Melissa for your great work!
Dr. Sue
Access to Melissa Harker Ridenour Books:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Help Your Children Cope with Divorce

“I had a really good childhood up until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me.” (Kurt Cobain)
Just as it is of paramount importance to help children learn how to stay safe from abduction, abuse or any kind of predator harm, it is also important to help children learn how to cope with situations involving their parents getting divorced.
Children who don’t understand the reasons that their parents are divorcing find the situation to be extremely distressing. Divorcing parents, however, can make the effects of divorce less painful for their children.
How parents tell their children about a pending divorce is critical to the children understanding and coping in an emotionally healthy way. Parents should reassure them that their love for them hasn’t changed and never will. Parents should assure children that they will continue to care for them and love them no matter what.

Parents should warn their children that some things may change and that there may be some logistical problems, but the family will work together through each detail and problem as they arise.
Parents seeking divorce should approach it amicably and try to maintain a civil and even friendly relationship afterwards, for the sake of children involved. Parents should endeavor to make children understand that the divorce is not the children’s fault, and children shouldn’t be made to feel as if they are losing a parent. Divorcing parents who maintain a healthy, amicable relationship can more effectively help their children heal from the shift in their lives.
Divorced couples should try to maintain communication with one another. Above all, parents who are divorcing should avoid using the children as pawns or speaking badly about one another in front of the children. Keep it civil, and keep it real.

(Picture credit - S. Braswell)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Children Believing in Santa Claus

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.” (Francis Pharcellus Church)
The above quote from an editorial posted in response to a little girl who wrote the New York Sun in 1897 inquiring as to the existence of Santa Claus takes a positive and eloquent position on the controversy of whether or not the Santa Claus myth should be perpetuated.
Opinions vary on the subject. Those who believe that the Santa myth should not be perpetuated in children believe that the tradition is secular rather than religious. They also object to the necessity of telling a lie to perpetuate the myth. They also believe that the myth contributes to increased commercialization of Christmas.
Those who support perpetuating the Santa myth believe that such myths can transmit shared values and traditions from one generation to the next. Supporters believe that myths, such as the Santa myth, can relate moral messages, just as Aesop's fables have done. Such supporters of perpetuating the Santa myth see value in sparking children’s imagination and see no harm in such a myth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keeping Children Safe with GPS Tracking

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” (Abraham H. Maslow)

My award-winning book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers,  provides tools and strategies to help parents and teachers keep children safe and to empower children to take a pro-active role in keeping themselves safe from abduction or predator harm.
The book also makes reference to the importance of cell phones as an aid to keep our children safe through communication and even through cell phone tracking. Parents, however, are not limited to a hammer as their only tool, so they should not see every problem as a nail. Not only is my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, a very effective tool, GPS Tracking Devices are very effective methods of keeping children safe as well.

Children can become lost, abducted, or they can even run away. GPS Tracking devices can help remedy such scary and risky occurrences. GPS tracking for children , a very light-weight gadget that allows parents easily and conveniently to track their children, can be fastened to a child’s backpack, shoes or watch. It can also be inserted onto items of clothing making it easier to locate lost children, children who have run away, and children who may have been abducted. There is even a very tiny version of the device that can be implanted into a child’s body. However, the safety of such a GPS implant procedure is still being studied.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Penn State Sexual Abuse Allegations: Preventing Sexual Abuse

“Child abuse does not go away, but 90% of child abuse is preventable” (Karen Adams)
 Allegations of sexual abuse have been made against Jerry Sandusky who served as the defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team for 23 years before retiring in 1999. Sandusky was known for his love of children before the alleged incidents. He and his wife adopted five children and raised three foster children.
 Eight victims have testified that Sandusky befriended them through The Second Mile, a charitable organization Sandusky founded in 1977. The Second Mile is a group home and an outreach program for troubled boys. Sandusky is alleged to have endeavored to mentor the boys, to give them gifts, trips to sporting events, and access to the Penn State football facilities. Then he purportedly sexually assaulted the boys.
Head coach, Joe Paterno, and two university officials were named in the indictment that brought charges against Sandusky.  They were named in the indictment because police allege there was a cover-up of at least one instance of Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy on the Penn State campus in 2002.
The fact that such types of alleged child abuse capture media attention is testimony to the importance of children of all ages learning to protect themselves from sexual abuse, or any kind of abuse. My award-winning book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, teaches children about common predator lures and advises children to take caution, take action and always tell. (C.A.T)
To summarize briefly, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers emphasizes the following protective strategies for children to keep them safe from abuse:
Children should be cautious around people they don’t know or don’t know very well. Children need to learn to trust their instincts.
Children should take action to be safe. They should learn whom they should and should not trust, and they should become street smart and not fall for common predator lures.  
Children should always tell if something bad happens to them. Children should remember that if something bad or threatening happens to them, it is nothing for them to feel ashamed about. It is not their fault.

When children hear about such abuse allegations on the news, parents should be prepared to discuss the implications of such incidents. Parents should use it as a teachable moment. Parents should instruct their children never to be afraid to tell them if something threatening or scary happens to them. Parents should reassure their children that they will never stop loving them, no matter what.
What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers provides both children and parents strategies to prevent, not only predator abduction, but also to prevent sexual abuse. The book is published by Headline Books, Inc. It is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Follett, Ingrams, and Baker and Taylor. The book was recently honored as a Best Books Award Finalist USA Book News.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is Spanking Children an Effective Discipline?

Spanking and verbal criticism have become, to many parents, more important tools of child rearing than approval. (Phil Donahue)

Spanking children is one form of corporal punishment, or the deliberate infliction of pain to deter misbehavior in children. Corporal punishment is a controversial issue. There are varied opinions as to the effectiveness of such discipline. As with most things in life, there are disadvantages and advantages.

One disadvantage is that spanking can get out of hand, even though parents often think their spanking is done in a controlled manner. In addition, some research shows a connection spanking children and aggressive behavior of those same children when they become adults.

Some psychologists and educators believe that spanking children prevents them from learning humane conflict resolution. They also believe that spanking children only produces cooperation in the short term, and not in the long run. They assert that spanking is based on fear and negatively affects parent - child bonding. They believe that it is more effective to promote good behavior by bonds of mutual respect and love.

There are those who believe that spanking has some advantages as an effective form of child discipline. One study found that children who remember being spanked displayed better school performance and were more charitable and optimistic than children who weren’t spanked as a disciplinary measure. This study, however, contradicts theories that children who are spanked are more aggressive than those who aren’t spanked.

Parents need to weigh the pros and cons of spanking children before deciding how they want to punish misbehavior in their own children.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween Safety for Your Family

The following is a guest post from Erik Braunitzer, a member of the creative writing and communications department at Douglas Elliman Real Estate Company. He serves as chief editor of an experienced team of writers who touch upon topic matters concerning family living, home improvement, design, real estate and more. The following has been vetted by multiple researchers and writers, and catered specifically to readers interested in the safety of their child or children.

Halloween Safety for Your Family
 Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Company, Agents for New York City Real Estate.

The festivities that come with Halloween are very exciting for adults and children alike. Whether you’re attending a haunted house or trick or treating, you should be wary of the dangers. With a little bit of planning and a few important safety rules, Halloween can be both harmless and enjoyable.

Trick-or-treating after dark makes it spookier and more fun, but children running around in the dark can be hard to see, and parents need to make sure that their children are visible to drivers. This can be done in fun and creative ways that enhance, not detract, from the child's costume. Many stores sell Halloween themed flashlights that are perfect to take along while trick-or-treating. Kids love flashlights, and one with ghosts or pumpkins on it can become a fun addition to the evening. Reflectors in Halloween shapes to be worn around the neck are another great idea, and look terrific with any costume. Lastly, most stores sell glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets that come in a variety of bright colors. They are fun to wear, and they make the child highly visible. Remember, vehicles are amongst some of the greatest threats on Halloween night, but they also present opportunities for safety. If the weather is cold, or your neighborhood already doesn’t meet safety standards, then it may be smarter to utilize your car for trick or treating. Just be wary of others!

Although not your first option, another great and innovative preventative safety recommendation would be an electronic child tracker. Digital Wireless Trackers aren’t very affordable, but they’re certainly practical. The way it works is simple – Your child gets a watch that beeps once he/she goes out of range (anywhere between 16 and 60 feet depending on your setting). Supplementary to that, your wireless indicator will point in the direction of your child and blinks faster as you get closer. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, these locators can also be used as GPS devices that are valuable for a lost child (worst case scenario).

Technology is great, and usually won’t fail you, but parent involvement is the one, sure way to keep children safe on Halloween night. A responsible adult should accompany all children, and very small children need to have the adult walk them up to the door. Older children can be allowed to walk and trick-or-treat a few houses ahead, but should always be within eyesight of an adult.

All candy needs to be inspected by the parent once the child gets home. Any candy that looks suspicious or has open wrappers should be thrown away immediately, as should any treats that are homemade. This can be done in a way that is not upsetting to the child. One fun way is for the parent to help the child sort the candy into similar piles while subtly looking for unsafe treats. This way, the child can enjoy his or her candy, and the parent can ensure the child's safety.

The whole idea of Halloween is to have fun, to enjoy time together with family and friends. A few common sense safety rules can ensure that Halloween night is a special and memorable time for the whole family.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Tragic Case of Child Abuse

“What is done to children, they will do to society.”  (Karl A. Menninger)

It is tragic that some children suffer abuse in silence either because they cannot tell or are afraid to tell anyone what is happening to them. It is unfortunate that some people who suspect that a child is being abused, neglect to do anything about it because they either don’t want to get involved or they feel it is none of their business.

God bless the neighbors who did report a suspected case of a tragically abused and neglected child in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The neighbors, who had been suspicious of the abused child’s parents to begin with, heard the cries of the child and called authorities.

When police arrived on the scene they discovered a diaper-wearing, terrified 7-year-old boy in a bug-ridden basement of a condemned Pennsylvania home. He said that he was often put in the basement as punishment and was told that ghosts lived down there. The boy told police he was forced to sleep in a coffin in the basement. He also told police that he was frequently duct-taped to a chair in the home. "Are you here to help me?" he asked police who entered the Scranton home on September 26. Authorities are searching for the couple who live at the boy's address after he was found terrified and alone in the dark last week.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Anyone who suspects a child of being abused or neglected should report such suspicions to authorities. To neglect doing so is in effect what is called bystander syndrome – a tendency to stand by and allow harm to an individual without doing anything to intervene. For more information on bystander syndrome read my Suite 101 article, “Bystander Syndrome: Good Samaritan Ignored & Dies in N.Y.C.” at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kids and Elevators

“If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the Up button.” (Sam Levenson)
What is it about kids and elevators? Kids love to ride elevators, and they really like to push the elevator buttons. Any of you who have more than one small child have witnessed the mad dash of your children to be the first to reach the elevator so that he or she can push the button to summon it to your floor. Pushing the buttons inside seems to be even more fascinating. At least that has always been my experience with my children when they were small. And it seems my granddaughters are the same way. They love to be the one to get to push the elevator button.
Children should really never ride in elevators alone. But have you ever considered what your child would do in the event he or she was in a circumstance which necessitated riding the elevator without you and a stranger  who made the your child feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened in any way was on the elevator with your child? Do you know what precautions your child should take? Does your child know what precautions he or she should take to be safer from such risk on an elevator? Does your child know what to do if he or she is on an elevator with someone who begins to make him or her feel threatened or afraid?
There are strategies that children should learn to take precautions on an elevator. There are strategies that children can employ to escape from an elevator when someone who makes them feel frightened or threatened gets on with them. Such strategies are explained in detail in my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers. To empower your children to take precautions from any type of risky scenario involving potential abduction or predator harm, acquiring the book for them could be the most important purchase you could make on behalf of your children. Detailed information about the book, endorsements of the book, and useful information for both children and parents can be accessed at the book website –

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cell Phones to Help Keep Kids Safe

“The relationship is the communication bridge between people.” (Alfred Kadushin)

Having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body. It is natural for parents to be concerned about their children’s well-being and safety when they are not with them. Parents can’t be with their children all the time. That’s why my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, (available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Follett, Ingrams, and Baker & Tayor) is such a useful resource for empowering children to stay safe from abduction or harm when they can’t be with their parents. The book mentions the option of parents purchasing cell phones for their children so that they can communicate with them when they are apart.

A distinct advantage to children having cell phones is that parents can keep in touch with them, not only for practical purposes, but especially for emergency situations as well. Parents who get their children cell phones with a GPS have the additional security of keeping track of where the children are at all times. Security and safety are the most important reasons for allowing children to have cell phones.

One risk, however, to children having cell phones is the controversial and potential radiation hazard that cell phones present. If parents opt to supply their children with cell phones, they must weigh the advantages against the potential radiation risks. They must teach their children to use the cell phone with the speaker-phone option, keeping the phone away from their ears. They should teach their children never to use the cell phone while driving, and teach them to use the cell phone responsibly, abiding by their parents rules for cell phone use.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Energy Drinks are Unsafe for Children

“The greatest wealth is health.” (Virgil)

Many parents and children mistakenly think that sports drinks and energy drinks are the same, when, in fact, they are not. Sports drinks are drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, and others. Sports drinks contain electrolytes and water and carbohydrates that replenish the body during vigorous sports activities. Sports drinks can be used safely by children and adolescents.
Energy drinks are drinks such as Red Bull, Jolt, and others. Energy drinks contain caffeine, sugar, and other ingredients that are unhealthy for a growing child. Such drinks can increase the jittery effects of caffeine, cause nausea, diarrhea, and other symptoms that could be potentially dangerous.
Energy drinks are not regulated as strictly as alcohol, tobacco, and prescription medications, but they should be. The journal, Pediatrics, advocates stricter guidelines for regulating the ingredients in energy drinks.

Hydration is necessary after vigorous sports activities. Plain water for hydration is a safe choice. Children playing sports don’t necessarily need something extra to avoid dehydration. Children who play sports can get the needed nutrition and hydration by consuming healthy food and drinking a plentiful supply of water before, during and after sports activities.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Starving Children in Somalia

“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.” (Mother Teresa)

The U.N. announced that a famine spreading through Somalia is killing more than a hundred children each day. The U.N. warns that that hundreds of thousands more people may die in the coming months unless they receive immediate relief and assistance.
The starvation, unfortunately, is mostly taking place out of sight of the world media, in areas of southern Somalia under control of violent Islamist insurgents. You know what they say, “Out of sight, out of mind.” The world needs to take notice and provide assistance to the tragic situation in Somalia to save the starving children and their starving families – indeed to save lives.
AmeriCares is responding to the crisis in Somalia and refugees fleeing into Kenya, as hundreds of thousands of Africans struggle to survive severe drought, famine, and brutal civil conflict. You can donate by going to the following link:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Names on Children's Apparel - Unsafe Practice

"Your children need your presence more than your presents." (Jesse Jackson)

With children back in school, and undoubtedly stocking up on their school clothes for the new school year, this is a perfect time to give a relevant tip from my book, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.

Parents, your children may like having their name on their clothing and other apparel, but it is a very unsafe practice. Children should not have their names on their tee-shirts or other clothing. They should not have their names on jewelry or on backpacks. If a potential child predator should see your child's name on his or her clothing, the predator can use the name to try to gain the child's trust. Such tactics to gain the child's trust are common among predator lures.

To learn about common predator lures that potential abuductors will use to try to gain trust and access, for harmful purposes, to children, read, and have your children read, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.

The book empowers children to take a proactive role in staying safe from abduction or predator harm. It includes a chapter for parents, as well. It is targeted to elementary students, but is ideally meant to be a shared experience between parent and child, teacher and student. It is available through the publisher, Headline Kids, and through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Follett, Ingrams, and Baker and Taylor.
Check out the book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books, at www.AuthorMelissaHarkerRid​, to find endorsements and useful resources and links for children, parents and teachers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Keeping Children Safe at the School Bus Stop

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." (Albert Einstein)

School bells all across the country will soon be ringing as children return for another school year. This is an appropriate time to provide readers a safety tip from my book, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.

Children waiting at the school bus stop, particularly if they are waiting alone, are a target for potential abduction. Teach your children that, if they should be approached at the bus stop by a stranger in a car offering a ride to school, they should refuse and get immediately away from the stranger as fast as they can.

Teach children that, while waiting at the bus stop, they should stand as far away from the street as possible. A child standing close to the street is easier prey for someone who may try to grab the child and pull him or her into a car.

The more children there are at the bus stop, the safer children will be. Instruct your very small children that they should stand in the middle of the group of children waiting at the bus stop. It will be safer for small children if they are surrounded by other larger children.

Children are safer at the school bus stop if a parent waits with them. My book suggests that parents can organize groups called Block Parents. Parents in such a group can take turns waiting with all of the children until the school bus arrives.

You can learn many other safety strategies to keep your children safe and empower them to take a proactive role in keeping themselve safe from abduction or exploitation by acquiring my book for them. - What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers. The book is available through the publisher Headline Kids (a division of Headline Books, Inc.) - It is also available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Follett, Ingrams and Baker & Tayloer

For more information about my book, endorsements of my book, and helpful information, resources, and links for parents, teachers, and children, visit the book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books -

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where is Little Breann?

"Each child is an adventure into a better life --an opportunity to change the old pattern and make it new." (Hubert H. Humphre, former U.S. Senator and Vice President)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the investigation and search for a 3-year-old girl who was reported missing Saturday in Missouri. Breann Rodriguez disappeared from her yard in Senath, Missouri Saturday afternoon while she and her 5-year-old brother were playing in the front of their house. Her 5-year-old brother had gone into the house for a moment to get a drink of water. Breann had been riding her bike. Breann’s father reported that both Breann and her pink bicycle she had been riding were missing.

My book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, explains to children that they should never play outside alone, even in front of the house. That is especially true for very young children, such as 3-year-old and a 5-year-old . Parents should always monitor their very young children when they are playing outside, even in their own yards.
Since it has been reported that Breann was riding her bike when she was discovered to be missing, I feel it is important to point out that my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, provides children with self-defense strategies in the event they would get grabbed by a potential abductor. One of those strategies explains how a bicycle that a child is riding when an abduction attempt is made can be used by the child to make it more difficult for someone to successfully grab him or her.
Sharing such a book with your children can help to empower your children to take a proactive role in staying safe from abduction. Such a book could end up being one of the most important investments you could make as a parent.
A picture of missing Breann can be seen on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children using the following link:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Caylee's Law

We are connected,
My child and I, by
An invisible cord
Not seen by the eye.
(author unknown)

I can’t even begin to imagine why a parent or any child caregiver who has discovered that his or her child is missing would delay reporting the fact to police. To fail to do so is not only neglect, but criminally suspect.

A parent chapter in my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, advises parents that, if they cannot find their child, not to panic. The chapter in the book suggests first searching the home, and then checking with neighbor’s and the child’s friends. The parent chapter in What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers then recommends that, if the child still cannot be found, parents should call the police immediately. There isn’t a waiting period for reporting a child as missing. Therefore, no parent should wait to do so.

In 2008, Casey Anthony's 2-year-old daughter, Caylee , was last seen at her Orlando home. The mother, Casey, did not report her child missing for a month. Ultimately, Caylee’s grandmother called authorities when Casey was unable to explain where Caylee was.

Outraged over Casey Anthony's acquittal from charges of murdering her daughter, lawmakers in Florida and a dozen additional states have proposed a law they call, Caylee’s Law.
The proposed law would make it a felony for a parent or any child caregiver to fail to report a child under the age of 12 who has been missing for 48 hours. The proposed law would also make it a felony to neglect reporting a child's death or the location of the child’s body to police within two hours of the child’s death.
These new proposals were partially motivated by an online petition. You can sign the petition at “Create Caylee’s Law”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Divorce and a Child's Well-Being

"Being divorced is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left." (Jean Kerr)

There are other types of risks to a child’s safety, security, happiness, and sense of well-being besides the threat of abduction and predator harm, the subject that is addressed in my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.
Children who are caught in the middle of a nasty divorce between their parents experience stress, confusion, sadness and depression. Parents must try to be as amicable as possible to avoid such trauma on their children. Children should witness that their parents can maintain a civil, healthy and possibly even friendly relationship with one another and that they maintain open lines of communication with one another.
Children should never be made to feel as if the divorce is their fault. Children shouldn’t be made to feel as if they are losing a parent either. It goes without saying that divorcing parents should never use the children as a weapon against one another. Divorcing parents in referencing the other parent in front of the children should always do so respectfully. Divorcing parents should never malign one another, at least in front of the children.
Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship will help their children heal from the traumatic shift in their lives.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Love You Now and Forever

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.
(from the children's book, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch)

I can't even begin to imagine the amount of grief experienced by a parent whose child has died , or whose child has been killed in an accident, or whose child has been killed in some horrible act of violence. Children are supposed to outlive their parents. That's the circle of life. That is the way it is supposed to be.

Parenting is challenging in these increasingly troubled times. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that 75% of parents fear that something could happen, such as an abduction or death, to take their children away from their loving arms. Even when their children grow up with children of their own, parents never stop parenting and never stop having concerns. Parents' children will always be their "babies' even after the children are grown. That is instinctive.

A parent whose child's life is taken away by a senseless act of violence must experience the very worst kind of grief. Helping parents to keep their children safe and empowering children to take a proactive role in keeping themselves safe from abuduction, exploitation, or predator harm is the reason that I wrote my book, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers. The objective is to protect children and spare parents needless, horrible grief - the kind of grief experienced by my childhood best friend's mother when her child's life was violently taken.

When my best friend and I were in the fifth grade, more years ago than I care to think about, I awoke on a Monday morning to my mother having to explain to me that my best friend wouldn't be in school anymore. She explained to me, as gently as she could, that my friend had been abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered the evening before. That was a difficult thing for a fifth grader to comprehend. But the trauma stuck with me thereafter.
After my best friend was murdered, whenever I would walk to school, I would have to pass the site where my friend’s body was discovered. I remember for the longest time running, terrified, past that spot each time. Adding to the tragedy of the story is the fact that her mother, the next year, committed suicide by hanging herself. She was never able to cope with the loss of her daughter, her baby, especially in such a violent way.
That's why taking steps to keep children safe is so important. Parents and children, teachers and students who share and practice the strategies taught in my book, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers are taking an important first step in accomplishing that safety objective.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
(Dorothy Law Nolte)
The above quote is so true. Children do, indeed, learn what they live. They live by example. This blog is about child safety. If adults fail to set a proper example for children, what proper examples do children have to emulate? The absence of positive role models affects the safety, security, stability, and the happiness of children. It affects the ability to raise children into good, compassionate, happy adults.
In school young children are always evaluated on their ability to “play well with others.” If children see their parents consistently squabbling with one another or squabbling with other parents and neighbors, that is setting a negative example.
When children are being witness to the current political climate in Congress which is filled with squabbling, partisanship, and lack of cooperation, will that not send a message that lack of cooperation is acceptable?
Parents not only need to set good examples for children, but Congress does as well. Our country is at risk of defaulting on their debts in four days if the Congress does not compromise and solve the situation.  The right wing faction of Congress, in particular some of the freshmen Congressman who were elected by members of the Tea Party, are willing to let our country default on its debts for their own political expediency.
America is literally being held hostage by the Tea Party-supported members of Congress who are willing to sacrifice the well-being of their constituents just to satisfy the Tea Party demands. The inability of the United States government to pay its bills affects whether or not senior citizens will get their social security checks, whether or not veterans will receive benefits, and it affects health care and the education of our children.
It’s reality check time! How can we expect children to play well with others when adults won’t?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Risk of Suicide Among Children and Teenagers

"If tears could build a stairway,
And memories a lane,
I'd walk right up to Heaven
And bring you home again." (Author Unknown)

The news of the tragic suicide of young Olympic skier, Jeret Peterson, is another circumstance that brings to light how fragile the psyche of children and teenagers can be. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Center for Disease Control report that suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 15 to 24.
A child or teenager taking his or her own life is devastating to everyone. It often leaves the suicide victim’s family and friends feeling a sense of responsibility and guilt for being unable to prevent it.
As children and teens grow up, they often feel stress, confusion, peer pressure and concerns about meeting the expectations of their parents and other family members. Sometimes it all becomes too overwhelming.
As parents and family, we can try to help prevent such tragedy in our own families by looking for the signs of potential suicide risk in children. Such risks include difficulty concentrating, performing poorly in school work, withdrawal from family and friends, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, changes in eating and sleeping habits or in hygiene and personal appearance. Other indicators include persistent boredom and rebellious or even violent behavior.
Other worrisome signs are when children or teens make statements inferring that they won’t be a problem much longer, or if they start giving away cherished possessions.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Touch - Bad Touch

"I don't want expensive gifts. I don't want to be bought. I have everything I want. I just want someone to be there for me, to make me feel safe and secure." (Princess Diana)

Statistics show that one in four girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused by the time they reach the age of 18. Even more alarming is the statistic showing that every two minutes a child is sexually molested and that such exploitation reaches across all socio-economic, religious, and ethnic factions.
Unfortunately, many children who are abuse victims either blame themselves or believe that no one will believe them, and, as a consequence, they suffer the abuse in silence. Statistics show that 30% of children who have suffered sexual abuse never tell anyone.
In order to create a safe environment for our children,  parents must become educated about sexual abuse. In order create a community atmosphere that does not tolerate child sexual abuse, parents must speak out.
Above all, parents must educate their children about the difference between good touch and bad touch. My book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers (available through the publisher, Headline Kids, and through, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million) touches upon the subject of educating children about the difference between good touch and bad touch and explains to children what they should do if they suspect they have been sexually exploited in any way.
Explain to your children that good touch is when Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, or Grandpa hug or kiss them goodnight or give a goodbye hug or kiss if they are going somewhere. Explain to your children that bad touch is any touch that makes them feel weird or uncomfortable, frightened or nervous.
 Encourage your children to always tell if something like that happens to them. Most importantly, tell your children that they have the right to say No to anyone who asks them to do something that makes them feel frightened, weird, or uncomfortable. More specifics on the topic are provided in my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Protect Your Child from Bullying

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

With school starting back soon, parents and children may be concerned about coping with the bullying problem that is in most schools. The prevalent attitude among some adults, whether they are parents, grandparents, teachers, or other child caregivers, that "Boys will be boys" and then their tendency to turn a blind eye to the bulllying dilemma only worsens the situation.

Bullying is a serious problem among American youth. It’s a problem that must be officially and effectively addressed by our schools and communities, including principals, teachers, community leaders, parents and students.

If your child is a target of a bully, he or she undoubtedly feels fearful, completely alone, and utterly helpless. Feeling fearful of such aggression is natural, but you, as parents, need to help your children realize that they are not alone. There is hope and there is help.

Some bullies make a show of false bravado. They tease and harass, but they are all bark and no bite, as the old saying goes. If the victim of the bully were to call his bluff, he may discover beneath a real cream puff.

Most bullies, however, have some kind of advantage or power over their victims. Most, unfortunately, want to inflict verbal, emotional or physical harm on their targets. It is this type of bullying that is a threatening and ever-increasing problem for your children. Such bullying can take the form of direct attacks on them, such as hitting, taunting, name-calling, malicious sexual remarks, and stealing or damaging their belongings. It can also take the form of more subtle attacks, such as spreading rumors about your child or enlisting cohorts to reject and exclude your child. How can your child deal with this deliberately aggressive and potentially harmful bully?

Advise your child to always tell you if he or she is being picked on or bullied in any way. Advise them to tell the teacher as well. Help your child to understand that telling a responsible adult about a bully is not being a baby. It is being smart. 

Advise your child that ignoring the bully and simply walking away from his aggressiveness may work with some bullies. Using humor might get the bully to stop as well. Bullies often give up when they don't get the expected response from their intended victim.

Additional strategies for dealing with bullying can be found in my children's book to be published at the end of May 2013. It is called The Bully and the Booger Baby: A Cautionary Tale. The book is not only a fun and imaginative school story about a big bully, the kids he picks on, and a little boy robot who tries to lead the charge to stop the bullying problem in their school, but it is also an informational book. It includes two sections of  researched and effective strategies and resources for children, parents, and teachers to help them better deal with today’s ever-increasing bullying problem.



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Leaving Children in Hot Parked Cars

"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." (Nelson Mandela)

With temperatures this past week rising to the triple digits in a large portion of the nation, it is a good time to remember that children should never be left ina hot parked car on hot summer days. Statistics show that in 2010, forty-nine children died of heat stroke from being left in parked cars on hot days.

According to Kids/, "A child’s body temperature climbs three to five times faster than an adult’s, especially in a hot car. In less than 30 minutes, the temperature inside a car can increase 35 degrees. An infant can die in as little as 15 minutes even on a mild 75-degree day."

Never leave a child in a hot, parked car. If you see a child, or even a pet, left in a hot car, call 911 immediately.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Every Child Deserves a Safe and Happy Childhood

"Children are living jewels, dropped unsustained from heaven." (Robert Pollok)

Parents, grandparents, teachers, and other kinds of child caregivers need to polish and treasure those jewels that are our children and do whatever it takes to keep them safe, secure and happy. Every child deserves to have a safe, happy, and carefree childhood. In today's world there are so many things that threaten the safety, the security, and the happiness of our children. Such threats can range from neglect at home, bullying at school, to the very real and dangerous threats of exploitation and predator harm.

All of these are issues that I hope some of you will comment about and help to get an active discussion going. As it is said, "If we are not a part of the solution, we are a part of the problem."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Protecting our children from abduction and predator harm

Why I Wrote and Published What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers:
As a former teacher, I have mentored students in every capacity of their educational development. As a mother and grandmother, I share concerns with all parents for the safety of children. Love of children and concern for their safety and welfare is the motivating factor behind the development of my book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.
Current statistics from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children show that about 260,000 children are abducted every year in the United States. The number of children who are reported as missing every year in the United States is 800,000.That averages about 2000 children a day. The following statistics are even more alarming:
• Forty percent of children in stereotypical kidnappings are killed.
• Four percent of children are never found.
• Seventy-nine percent of kidnappings are carried out by strangers and twenty-one percent by acquaintances.
Almost seventy-five percent of American parents fear that their children might become victims of abduction.
The aforementioned statistics on abducted and missing children are what make such a book as What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers such an important guide book to add to children’s and parent’s home book collections and to include in teachers’ classroom collections and in libraries in elementary and middle schools across the United States. The book can be acquired through the publisher website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million.
In addition, I offer workshops to schools and other educational institutions or organizations. The workshops reinforce for children, in a fun and creative way, some of the information and strategies presented in What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers.

Information for scheduling workshops can be accessed through the publisher, Headline Books, Inc. ( or through the author at or through Facebook, Linked In or My Space. Brochures on the workshops are available upon request.

Care to share your thoughts on the increasing predator threat to our children's safety?