When we started the non-profit (Community Watch) in 2006, we were told that children were at extreme risk from strangers, and that thousands and thousands of kids go missing every single day in the US. We had law enforcement, safety experts, and children’s books expound on these two ideas, and we were pretty sure it was our job to let parents know that, too.
We were wrong, and we figured it out pretty quick, thankfully.
We want our kids to be safe, to grow up safe, and to learn how to keep themself safe so they’re prepared for any situation. The skills they need to do that are like a toolbox, and one of the most important tools in that box is CONFIDENCE.
Cyberbullying has been a major theme in headlines over the past few months. The teen suicides of Long Island’s Alexis Pilkington and Massachusetts’ Phoebe Prince, as well as the bullying of California teenager Autumn Albin, have generated legislative action from California to New Hampshire.
Here is a brief look at what four states are doing to stop bullying.
In wake of Phoebe Prince’s death, the Boston Herald reported that both the state House and Senate passed anti-bullying bills in March. According to the article, both bills seek to “curtail bullying in schools and in cyberspace.”
No kidding, that’s the name of a new website that is meant to make a statement about location-based social media: Please Rob Me. At any given moment you can see the amazing amount of people who are publicly advertising that they are not at home. Imagine the possibilities for some enterprising young thieves out there.
When I first visited the site a few days ago, there was actually a location search that allowed you to search by city to see who—in that city—was not currently home. That feature has been inexplicably removed from the site in the intervening days, perhaps out of protest that the site would ACTUALLY BE USED by criminals, instead of just being a snarky way of telling people to stop sharing so much information publicly.
About 200 days a year, kids get up in the morning and head to school. They spend 6-8 hours at school, and then turn toward home, or to other activities. Schools themselves tend to be safe places. Stress, bullying, rough-housing, and some other social issues can erupt but are typically well-managed by school administrators and families.
The area immediately around schools is often considered safe. Some states have created ‘Community Protection Zones’ around schools, which prohibit certain categories of sex offenders from residing within a specific distance of schools. Other laws prohibit weapons on public property within a certain distance of schools and provide for harsher penalties for drug crimes near schools. Those laws serve as public statements that we want our children protected from predators and criminals, but they do little to dissuade predators and criminals from attempting to harm children.