The Conversation I Didn’t Want to Have

The Conversation I Didn't Want to Have - The Bad Guys*

Recently, two very scary events happened in my kids’ lives on the same day. These events rocked my world and changed the way I saw my little town.

  • The First Event: An attempted assault/abduction at a gymnastics center my child frequents.
  • The Second Event: A lock down at my kids’ school.

Both events were within 24 hours of each other. I believe any parent would be shocked and frightened by these events. However, what frightened me the most was the realization that if it were my kids, they may not fight back.

If someone tried to take my kids, they wouldn’t fight back. They wouldn’t fight back, because I haven’t told them it was okay to do so.


Talking About the Bad Guys

In the aftermath of that day, a sick and sad realization came over me – it’s time to talk about the bad guys* of the world. It’s time to prepare them for the “what if” scenarios, and teach them when to fight back and how to fight back. But what do I say?

Where do I start? How do I keep my composure? How do I show them how serious this is without scaring them? How do I protect them from being scared of the world, yet make them aware and help them be vigilant?

To help me prepare for this conversation, I called on my mom friends, local officials, and of course, Google, for tips on how to talk to kids about the bad guys.

Here’s What I Learned

  • Talk to your children about the danger signs from strangers – puppies, candy, and even fake injuries are ways bad guys try to lure kids into unsafe situations.
  • Adults should not be asking children for help – finding lost pets, treating an injury, etc.
  • If someone tries to take you, yell and scream as loud as you can! Say, “This is not my mom or dad!” This will  attract attention and get someone’s help.
  • Fight back! If someone is hurting you or trying to take you somewhere you don’t want to go, you have permission to kick, punch, and bite to get away from them.
  • Run and hide from anyone who is making you feel unsafe, and find an adult or helper you trust.
  • Always listen to that gut feeling that makes you feel scared. If you are scared, get out of that situation as soon as possible.
  • Never go anywhere alone! Use the buddy system when going to the restroom, locker room, etc.
  • Stay with your parents in public places.
  • Choose a family “password” to use in situations where you feel unsafe. This is a great tip for older kids who may find themselves in situations where they feel unsafe, but they don’t want other kids to know they are scared.
  • Let your child know that it’s okay to say no to any adult that is making them feel uncomfortable.
  • Each child is in charge of their body no matter what anyone else tells them, and no one should touch them where their swimsuit does. 

Always Look for Helpers

Yes, there are plenty of bad guys in the world, but luckily, there are more good guys that want to help. There are always helpers who want to keep you and your children safe! It’s a sad reality that we have to discuss the “what if” scenarios with our children. It definitely makes us uncomfortable as parents! Remember that preparation is ultimately what will keep children safe.

Don’t hesitate to talk to your kids today!


*In this blog post I use the general term “bad guy,” because it is culturally familiar. Please let your children know that any person, man or woman, adult or child, can be a bad guy.

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2 Responses to The Conversation I Didn’t Want to Have

  1. Avatar
    Heidi Schulz September 20, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    I love your list. I would also add that I’ve had to talk to my 5 year old twins about what “bad guys” look like…..they had a perception of what bad guys looked like & we had a conversation that bad guys can look like everyday people, nice ladies, an older kid, your grandma, etc.

  2. Avatar
    kim davis September 21, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    good job Jamie. it is sad these things happen and that kids are younger and younger when adults find the need to help them be safe. I think honesty is the best policy when talking to kids, taking care not to frighten them but not sugar coating either. I think you did great.

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