I had hoped that by the time I posted this article (originally posted December 16, 2003) we would have news of Cecilia Zhang’s whereabouts. Sadly, the Toronto girl who was abducted from her bedroom one mid-October night is still missing. I am heartsick for this family.
A parent has no greater responsibility than to assure their children are safe. Thankfully, the probability of our children being abducted by a stranger is very small indeed. In fact, car accidents and walking to the park are statistically way more hazardous. Most abductions are the result of custody battles gone ugly.
Most parents teach their children that they should "never talk to strangers" but the biggest threat our child must deal with is warding off adults they know. 50% of girls will be sexual abused in some manner by the time they reach adulthood. Most of these assaults will be by people they know; their family members, neighbors or teachers.
If you have raised your daughter to "respect her elders" to be "polite" and "obey" you have extra work to do. These children are least prepared to deal with an adult who abuses their power.
One video-based program developed in Toronto by fellow Adlerian Larry Nisan is called Protective Parenting. This program shows parents and kids how adults typically "trick" children. It offers families ways to insure that a child never has to think and decide about adult "trickery" by teaching these 10 power rules.
- Take TWO great big steps back (from an approaching adult or car)
- "I won’t go with someone I don’t know"
- Adults should seek help from other adults NOT from kids
- Always have a family password
- Never display your name (on hats, T-shirts etc.)
- Kids can’t sign contracts (to be on commercials etc.)
- Don’t go without your parents’ permission
- Hands off the bathing suit area
- It’s okay to tell the bad secrets
- A weapon means SCREAM, YELL, KICK and RUN
If you would like to receive more information about this program contact Protective Parenting through the Psychotherapy Institute of Toronto (416-968-0640).