03/20/06 — Red Cross course teaches children how to stay safe

View Archive

Red Cross course teaches children how to stay safe

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on March 20, 2006 1:45 PM

The Red Cross hopes Wayne County's schoolchildren will be safer this year after learning about the dangers of strangers.

The Wayne County Chapter took its Home Alone program to about 9,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grade in the public schools. Disaster Services director Teresa Williams said these grades were chosen because they include some of the students at the highest risk.

The focus of this year's Home Alone program was stranger identification.

Mrs. Williams said each presenter used a huge magic board with the word TRICKS down the left side. Each letter represented a tip.

"T" was think safe; don't be tricked. The students were encouraged not to trust people calling them by name when they don't know them because that person could have seen their name on their book bag or heard someone call their name.

They should also not listen to a stranger's sad story such as "Your puppy is hurt or help me find my dog."

"R" was for remember the rules. These include always walking or riding a bicycle with a friend, getting a parent's permission before going anywhere, putting your name on the inside of your backpack, walk facing traffic, never take anything from a stranger and never get into a car with a stranger.

"I" was for Internet safety. The presenter asked questions such as how many have used the Internet, how many have sent an e-mail to someone they don't know and how many have used a chat room.

"But communicating on the Internet can be dangerous as the children don't always know who's on the other side since they can't see them," Mrs. Williams said.

The presenter showed a scenario of a supposed 10-year-old girl on the Internet talking about her pets, parents and favorite foods. Then he showed several photos of who that person could actually be, including Frankenstein, a cartoon character, a mean looking man or a strange-looking woman to show the students that just because someone says he a particular person doesn't mean he really is.

"C" was for code word. The presenter told the students to always use a secret code word with his or her family.

"K" was for knowing the Red Cross stranger rule: Anybody that you or your family does not know well are to be treated as strangers and all of the stranger rules apply. "Strangers look like ordinary people and there is no way to tell just by looking at a person if he is someone who would want to hurt the students," Mrs. Williams said.

"S" was for the SKY principle: Scream, kick and yell if you are being attacked or kidnapped.

Mrs. Williams said this was the sixth year that the Red Cross took its Home Alone program into the schools. She said the purpose of the program is to educate students in stranger identification and empower them with techniques and knowledge that will keep them safe.

"It's a wonderful program," Mrs. Williams said. "We have had people tell us that some of the things they learned through the program have made them stop and think and possibly avoid situations that might put them in danger."

Following the presentations, each student received a magnet with the word TRICKS on it to take home. And each classroom received a first aid kit.