Helping Children Protect Themselves
Melinda Tripp is a teacher, writer, mother, and child safety advocate. In 1995 she started the Abduction Prevention Education and Safety program and has since conducted assemblies for over 100,000 children. She wrote the book, What Should You Do? Helping Children Protect Themselves in the Twenty-First Century, it shows parents and teachers of children ages 5-13 understand how to teach children to be safe.
Melinda’s practical, kid-focused approach has been a big success in her community and around Utah, so we reached out to her and she graciously agreed to talk to us about her life, her work, and how she’s keeping kids safe.
How did you begin to be involved with teaching and informing others about child safety?
“I taught school [from] 1978-2003 (mostly teaching 4th graders). When my daughter was in sixth grade her best friend was involved in an attempted brazen, stranger abduction. She got off the bus alone and proceeded to walk down the lane toward their farm. Two men following the bus drove after her and attempted getting her into the car. She shrugged off her backpack and dove through the barbed wire into a cow pen and ran to the milk barn (towards a safe place, with safe people).”
What has been your motivation to be an advocate for child safety?
“Following this incident the small community had no education materials to help empower the children. I researched safety skills, improvising for grade levels and wrote the first, national, educational safety curriculum.”
Tell us a little bit about your inspiration to write your book, “What Should You Do?”
“A few years later I was doing school assemblies with this new found need. Later, as I could not fulfill all the schools, I wrote the curriculum into my book. The book is intended for parents and teachers of children ages 5-13.”
What do you consider to be the most important safety issue for children?
“Children must be taught to recognize bad behaviors and recognize bad (uncomfortable) situations and use their plan. Say NO to the person or situation, GO quickly, and TELL a safe adult.”
What is the best way to teach a child about safety in and around cars?
“Parents need to take a hands-on approach and explain how cars mirrors work, and how and where people walk to stay safe. Children can think from a drivers view. Stay away from parked cars with someone in them.”
What is one thing that you constantly encourage parents to do to keep their children safe?
“Give a child the skills they need to empower them:
“I know what a trick is!”
“I have the power to save myself!”
“No one can touch me, take me or hurt me!”
Tell children concrete, applicable stories to explain how they should react.”
Considering your expertise, why is child safety something a parent should focus on?
“If you give your child a fundamental framework, a lifelong plan, they can apply it as they grow into safe adults.”
You can find What Should You Do? Helping Children Protect Themselves in the Twenty-First Century on Amazon. Check out her blog to lend your support, hear more stories, and find instruction on how to keep your children safe.