Monthly Archives: September 2015

Child Protection Month

Child Protection Month

Child Protection Month may be drawing to a close, but the tools and insights that you’ve found here can be used year-round. Irene van der Zande, Beth McGreevy, and all of the fine folks at Kidpower have shared lots of great resources and ideas; the members of Team Pickle would like to extend their heartfelt thanks.

As we move into October, parents and caregivers can find further safety tips and resources relating to Bullying Prevention Month. This Kidpower post from Irene van der Zande includes books and articles about bullying, and podcast examples of clear and common language that will help define what is happening when bullying is suspected or witnessed.

Some say that love makes the world go ’round, others say that it’s money. I think that safety is the real answer. Food and shelter to keep our bodies safe. Love to keep our hearts safe. Education to keep our minds and futures safe. Caring parents and outstanding organizations such as Kidpower to keep our children safe. By working together, we can make Child Protection Month last all year.

Free-range Parenting

Free-Range Parenting & Safety:

“Turning Problems into Practices” Free Coaching Call

As we continue sharing strategies for safety this month, Little Pickle Press is pleased to welcome another member of the Kidpower team. Today, Kidpower Communications Director Beth McGreevy discusses the benefits of a conference call for parents interested in the topic of free-range parenting.

After discovering how easy and useful it was to have large-group conference calls with the Hands and Voices OUR Children Project and the Positive Coaching Alliance, we decided to start hosting our own free regular conference calls, and held our first one on May 5. The name, “Turning Problems into Practices Coaching Call” is inspired by the many requests we have received from parents and teachers for phone coaching.

For our first call, we had over 70 people sign up to discuss the topic, Free-Range Parenting and Safety, and about 30 of those registered called in. Our call system lets people “raise their hand” during the call to ask a question, and Irene van der Zande discussed situations with several different callers in the hour:

  • How to set reasonable boundaries with neighborhood kids who are constantly knocking on the door and asking to play, so that there’s time for kids to get homework done or have a playdate with just one or two friends if they want.
  • How to prepare a ten-year-old who wants to walk to school alone on a busy street with no sidewalk and through a secluded park.
  • How to help a teen daughter feel more confident after she became uncomfortable with walking on her own in places where people who seem mentally unstable might approach her.
  • How to prevent kids who are walking on their own from being picked up by the police.
  • How to support young people in taking positive action to stop rumors that are harming their reputations at school.

Here is what one caller wrote afterwards (with her permission to use her feedback publicly):

I really want to thank you for today’s call. It was incredibly helpful and grounding. I especially love your emphasis on building skills to reduce anxiety—very helpful! Today as we scootered to school, my daughter said, “Me walking to school by myself is a really big deal.”

I asked, “in a good way or a bad way,” fearing that I had made too much out of it.

She said, “Neither. Just a really big deal.”

So she’s appreciating that I’m hearing her request for more independence, and readying herself to handle it. I’m going to convey your comments about kids and phones to my husband, who’s VERY old-school. I think it’s a strong argument. Especially, “The world has changed, and we have to change too.”

I really love the practicality with which you balance the need for safety and for independence. It’s not guess-work, it’s not open the floodgates, it’s systematically review, assess, and move forward. Very reassuring!

***The full recording of Irene’s coaching call about Free-Range Parenting and Safety and a summary of the questions, practices, and resources that were discussed is available through the original post. Click here to listen.***

Summary of the Questions and Practices discussed, and Links to Resources:

Introduction: When we talk about safety with “free-range” parenting—what we are looking at is how to balance the tension between freedom and safety as our kids move out into the world and go more places on their own.

Goal: We want to balance the growing independence of our kids with giving them safety skills and knowledge that match their developmental stage. For example, to walk to school on their own, they need to be at the appropriate developmental stage, which means being mentally and physically able to avoid problems in specific situations; starting with the ability to focus for the amount of time it requires to walk all the way to school or back without getting distracted.

Question/Problem: “Free range parenting in our neighborhood is resulting in a lot of door knocking as kids go around the neighborhood to see which kids can play. When we are trying to get homework done, this is very interruptive, even if we tell the kids we are not able to play, others still come to knock and it is frustrating to have to answer the door lots of times. In addition, there are so many kids in the neighborhood that sometimes my kids get overwhelmed when too many kids come to play. How can I manage this without hurting anyone’s feelings or having them feel left out?”

Practice/Solution discussion: Have a plan and make sure everyone in the neighborhood knows the plan. You can set certain hours for playing, or ask kids to respect a sign on the door to remind kids. Like, “Homework in progress, please no knocking.” Or, “House is full.”

It is important to remember that, you can’t always avoid hurt feelings, but you can manage them. If a parent gets upset about their kids being left out or thinks the signs are not welcoming, first make a bridge in boundary setting by saying, “Your kids are great, and we like having them over to play—and we are overwhelmed at certain times with the number of interruptions, so we need to find a way to overcome this so playtime works for everyone. We are going to put up a sign when we are not available to have the door knocking. In addition, if there are kids over and more come over, we may put a “house is full” sign on the door, not because we want to leave anyone out, but we want to support our children’s request to only play with one or two friends at time.”

Sometimes when things change, people might get upset, so plan for that with a role play where you tell the parents your concerns about getting overwhelmed, explain the plan, and ask for their input and help in implementing the plan.

Question/Problem: “I have been reading on the news where a six-year-old and older sibling were walking on their own and the police picked them up. As my child gets ready for more independence, what can I do in a city environment where we don’t know all the neighbors or if they would call the police on a child walking on their own? What can I do to make sure my child won’t get bothered by neighbors or police?”

Practice/Solution discussion: When your child is ready, then my suggestion is to reach out to as many neighbors as possible, and the police, to let them know who you are, that your child will be on their own at given times, what the plan is, and what the child has permission to do on their own, so they do not panic. Walk the route with the child first, introduce yourself to people on the route, in the stores, and other areas along the way. Tell your child where they can get help if needed. Say, “Hello, my kids are going to be walking here, if you have any concerns, here is my number, give me a call.” Reaching out to police can be hard, but most are just trying to keep everyone safe and do the right thing. Communication with the community is a big part of preventing problems and finding solutions.

Also, the laws are confusing about what age is okay to be left alone or be on your own in different cities and states. Let your child know that even though someone is in a uniform and has an official looking car, they are still a stranger. They need to be polite and not run away if a person in a uniform stops them, and a child can say, “I need to tell my parents where I am, I am going to call them right now. Before I go with you, I need to call 911 to make sure you are a police officer, because I don’t have a way to know.” Then practice with the child so that they can stay calm and are prepared, because it will be hard, but practicing makes it easier.

Question/Problem:  “My daughter wants to walk to school on her own, but there is a busy street with no sidewalks and there is a secluded park she has to walk through with homeless people living there. How can I prepare her for this?”

Practice/Solution discussion: To prepare kids for success, walk the route with her so you can see the potential places where there are safety issues and discuss with her the strategy and practice skills for avoiding problems; such as where she can go to get out of the road if a car is coming too close, or which houses and stores along the way she can go to for help. Consider allowing her to have a phone for safety—there are plans that are very limited. There are so few public phones these days and if the route is secluded in some parts, it may be the best option if she needs help in an emergency. Discuss with her that you will co-pilot until she is ready and walk a certain distance behind her; allowing her to gain the experience and confidence, while giving you peace of mind that she knows what to do in the possible safety situations. Be sure to also practice with her friend who will walk with her. You can say to her, “For my peace of mind, we are going to practice and you are going to show me.” Pose “what if” scenarios and have her answer them. Put your agreements about where she can go, use of the phone, etc., in writing and make sure the consequences are clear if the agreement is broken.


Question/Problem: “Our young teen daughter has been walking on her own. After 4-5 weeks of doing this, she is now having anxiety and no longer wants to walk this specific route on her own anymore. She doesn’t like the way some of the people are looking at her and some people do strange things, like walking with a stroller and no child in it. She is refusing to walk anywhere on her own. I am concerned that learning about the possible problems, she has become even more scared. She is also worried about the male adults, even if they are not threatening her, and other kids walking as well. She is not sure how to handle this. How can I help her regain her confidence?”

Practice/Solution discussion:  Sometimes when you raise awareness, it can raise anxiety. The best thing to do is to keep practicing until she feels more confident and tell her that learning the safety rules is part of growing up. There is a process for developing independence and helping her get used to dealing with people looking at her and that some look different than she is used to is part of that. In order to practice effectively, you need to walk the route with her and see the same things that she is seeing. Then you can practice the skills on how to handle specific situations. For example, if someone asks for spare change—you can practice having her keep walking with calm, respectful confidence and say, “Sorry, no.” Or “No thanks.” When she walks with you a few times, you will model for her what to do. This gives her something to say and do rather than just “wishing” they were not there. You can say to her, “Part of growing up is knowing how to deal with people when they make you feel uncomfortable with what they say, or do, or what their appearance is.” Real-world practice with you and her together is key—and you will figure this out together.


Question/Problem: “I’m a professional counselor in middle school and have a female student who has bullying issues where former friends are spreading rumors about her. How can I help her, as she does not want to come to school anymore and it is affecting her learning? I would like for her to have some tools where she feels she can handle this.”

Practice/Solution discussion: Gather more information: Who are the friends? What are they saying? so that you can give her the tools to practice with for these specific situations. Identify with her, who are the adults she can go to for help. There are some good Emotional Safety tools she can use—it is important to help her take the power out of the words that are being said about and to her. Here are three of the emotional safety practices you can work on:

  1. One practice is to take the specific mean words and say them out loud, then say the word for her favorite food. Pair them over and over again—out loud—and soon the power goes out of the hurtful words. The meanest words in our own language can sound completely benign if said in a language we don’t know—and understanding that the words themselves only have the power we invest in them is an important idea to protect our emotional safety.
  2. The Kidpower Trash Can technique:  Help her practice physically throwing the mean words into an imaginary trash can instead of letting them get stuck in her heart or her head. Then replace the mean words with kind words about herself to build herself up.
  3. There are some peer pressure communication techniques that we can use as well, such as saying to a peer: “I feelsad, when you say mean things to me or spread rumors, would you please stop.” There might be negative reactions and preparing her for this will help—read our Teenpower Boundaries article for specific boundary setting phrases, common ways people react and specific responses to their reactions that keep the boundary without escalating the situation.


Going Out Alone

Going Out Alone:

How to Prepare Kids to Be Safe

Our partners in safety have kindly allowed us to share this article from their Kidpower blog. Please take a look at the resources cited in the article, and feel free to weigh in on the debate about “free range” versus “helicopter parenting.”

How and when can we let our kids go out alone in public or online—and still keep them safe?

Is it neglectful or empowering to allow your kids go out alone and walk to and from school, ride on public transportation, play in the park, or go to the store without an adult to protect them? When can they safely explore the Internet or other online technology without adult supervision?

There is a lot of heated debate on this issue, especially because of recent cases in the US of parents facing investigations or even arrests after being reported for allowing their children between 6- to 10-years-old to walk home or play in the park without adult protection.

Parents who believe in raising “free range” kids want to make the decisions about allowing their children to go out alone—and point to reassuring statistics showing a reduction in stranger abductions and many other crimes.

At the same time, in the US, there are hundreds of thousands of reports a year of children being approached by a stranger trying to get them into their cars or being approached by a potentially dangerous person online. And there are far more reports of children being harmed by people they know. Even if the kids involved in an incident get away safely, the fact that someone tried to kidnap or abuse them can be traumatic for their whole community.

At Kidpower, we believe that the answers lie in assessing different situations and the capabilities of different children realistically, teaching them skills for avoiding trouble and getting help, and providing them with life experiences to develop their independence. We know that the “Illusion of Safety” can harm kids—and so can anxiety and being so protected that they don’t have the chance to grow.

When there have been a series of kidnapping attempts, having guidance about what to teach kids can increase safety and reduce anxiety for parents and kids alike. This article by our North Carolina Center Director Dr. Amy Tiemann was written after several kids had been approached by strangers in Wake Forest and covers the essentials very clearly: Stranger Safety: Stay Out of Reach, Move Away, and Check With the Adult In Charge. 

Here are several more Kidpower articles that can help parents and other caring adults stop worrying about headlines and slogans like “stranger danger,” “helicopter parents,” or “free range kids,” and focus on what we can do to keep our kids safe most of the time—by preparing them with knowledge and practical safety skills to help them be successful with more and more independence.

Preparing Children for More Independence – A Five-Step Plan From Kidpower
Safety for Kids on Their Way to School – A Checklist for Parents
Helicopters or Protectors: How to Keep Kids Safe Without Unhelpful Hovering
Resisting the Illusion of Safety
How “Stranger Danger” Hurts Kids: Teach Stranger Safety Instead
What If I Get Lost? – Kidpower Skills for Teaching Children How to Get Help

The same skills for being safe in person are also true online. These skills include using your awareness, moving away from someone who is not acting safely, and checking first with your adults before giving personal information and before agreeing to meet in person anyone who you meet online. As parents and other caring adults—until our kids have the understanding, skills, and life experience to make wise choices online—we need to know what they are doing. In the next few weeks, we will be adding articles by two young adult experts about how to safely connect with people online and how to stay safe in gaming environments.

Becoming more independent is one of the joys of growing up—and with thought, preparation, and practice, we can create opportunities for our kids to go out alone, further and further away from us, as they are ready.

National Safety Council Library

The National Safety Council Library

For more than one hundred years, the National Safety Council Library has collected and shared information on safety practices relating to all aspects of life. Home or away, at work or at play, the NSCL can provide precautionary measures for your family and community.

From a single file drawer full of clippings, the National Safety Council Library has grown to a collection of nearly 175,000 pieces, some of which date back to the early 1900s. Regulations, training manuals, and best practices are some of the topics covered by the thousands of books and articles available.

While the materials are available to non-members for a small fee, membership in the NSCL offers a number of bonuses. Online training, downloadable resources, and safety seminars are just a few of the perks of membership.

If you’re after something specific, you can cruise the Shop page. Books, instructor kits, and handy odds and ends can be found here, relating to all sorts of topics, including first aid and driver safety.

It’s a wild world out there, and safety depends on each and every one of us. While you’re looking out for each other, the National Safety Council Library is looking out for you.

Going Out Alone

September is International Child Protection Month

If you’re looking for ways to be a part of International Child Protection Month, look no further than this post from Kidpower Founder and Executive Director Irene van der Zande. Originally published in 2014 on the Kidpower website, it offers five ways to take positive action and make a commitment to child safety this month and all year long.

This month we at Kidpower, along with individuals, families, schools, organizations, businesses, and agencies, are taking action to honor, inspire, and support adult leadership worldwide to promote and protect the safety and well-being of young people.

I hope you will join in by taking action in your community. Together, we CAN transform the fear of bullying, violence, and abuse into a future of lifelong safety and success for today’s youth!

Each of us can:

1. Make the Kidpower Put Safety First Commitment™: Decide to put safety ahead of discomfort every day. Encourage older children and teens to make the Kidpower Put Safety First Commitment for themselves.

2. Make the Kidpower Protection Promise™ to the Young People in Your Life: Make SURE young people in your life KNOW you care. Make and discuss this Promise with your own children, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews, and other relatives; your students; and the youth you support in sports, scouting, volunteer work, faith groups, etc.

3. Become a Child Protection Month Partner: Individuals and groups become Partners by promoting international Child Protection Month through their newsletters, social media, conferences, services, email lists, and other activities; by sharing educational resources; and by donating time, money, or other support.

Our current organizational partners include MyGym Children’s Fitness Centers, Council for Exceptional Children, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Hands and Voices, Positive Coaching Alliance, DC Self-Defense Association, Little Pickle Press, Doing Right by Our Kids, Together for a Safe Childhood, and The Lawrence Foundation, as well as Kidpower’s 30 centers, offices, and providers around the world and hundreds of families, schools, organizations, foundations, and agencies they work with in their communities.

4. Act as a Protector of Children and Teens: International Child Protection Month honors the importance of each adult as a Protector of Children who can:

Advocate and intervene on behalf of all young people of all abilities;
Empower young people to take charge of their own well-being in age-appropriate ways;
Listen to and learn from young people;
Encourage adult leadership to keep kids safe.

5. Spread the word and encourage others to participate in Child Protection Month: Every adult who makes the Kidpower Put Safety First Commitment makes life better for kids. Every individual or agency sharing International Child Protection Month information is taking a stand for the safety of young people.

Forward this email to friends, family and organizations with young people in their care.
Share the website links from above and the free 1-page posters in our Resources section.
Send this update out on your Google+ and Facebook Status: “September is International Child Protection Month! Together we can transform the fear of bullying, violence, and abuse into a future of lifelong safety and success for today’s youth. Find out what You can Do to #Protect&Empower young people in your life.”

Tweet one or more of these (Twitter will shorten the URL for you):
September is International Chid Protection Month! Make the @Kidpower_Intl Protection Promise today! #ChildProtection

Find out what you can do to #ProtectAndEmpower young people this September for International Chid Protection Month! @Kidpower_Intl

10 Actions for Adult Leaders – How to #ProtectAndEmpower young people. Join International Child Protection Month! @Kidpower_Intl


For more information or to share more about how you are making a difference, please contact us at [email protected]


SCAN—Stop Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse is not an easy or comfortable subject to discuss. The distressing truth of the matter is that it happens, and it must be addressed. For more than forty years, SCAN, Inc. has been dedicated to stopping child abuse and preventing further occurrences through intervention and education.

The SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) mission statement is straightforward. “SCAN protects children, prepares parents, strengthens families, and educates our community to Stop Child Abuse and Neglect.” Their core beliefs are as follows:

  • All children deserve to be safe, loved, and nurtured.
  • Families want to do their best for their children.
  • Parenting is life’s most challenging job and SCAN is here to help.
  • Children should be in their family’s home whenever possible.
  • Safe children and strong families create a better community.

The SCAN program is composed of two main parts: prevention and restoration. If abuse or neglect are discovered, steps can be taken to prevent further damage. If a parent or caregiver feels unable to cope with their home situation, educational services are available to help individuals and families recognize and avoid abusive behavior. If a child has already been removed from a home, or has been identified as an individual in need of potential crisis care, restoration services can be offered. These include intervention, home-based therapy, and visitation facilitation.

The first step in preventing abuse is to acknowledge it. Abuse happens, but it doesn’t have to continue. If you are a victim, or if you believe that someone is being abused, report it. If you fear that you may lose control and hurt a child or family member, seek help immediately.

As we continue to cover the topic of child safety throughout the month of September, Little Pickle Press would like to take this opportunity to honor survivors everywhere. You are the voices for those who have been silenced, and we are listening.

Main Street Benefits

B Corps We Love: Main Street Benefits

In keeping with this month’s theme, we wanted to spotlight a B Corporation that works to promote safety and protect families. Health insurance can be the topic of difficult conversation, but it is also extremely important. When it comes to health, knowledge is protection.

Based in Richmond, Virginia, Main Street Benefits is an independent firm that works closely as a liaison between insurance brokers and small companies and individuals. It’s the “Main Street Difference:” planning, customer service, communication, advocacy, and education that makes Main Street Benefits so unique. Their “vision is to make sure their clients are fully informed with the constantly changing trends of healthcare by keeping good communication levels. They work closely with employers to keep them abreast of constantly changing trends, laws, and other regulations. Main Street Benefits believe that employees need to clearly understand their benefits in order to be wise consumers and understand the value of their ‘hidden paycheck.’ They also believe in a sustainable community of business partners that support local companies within the community.” They offer group health benefits, individual health insurance, dental plans, and life and disability insurance.

Main Street Benefits

“We became a Certified B Corporation because it allows us to be a part of a greater organization with like minded, sustainable companies. We believe in reducing our carbon foot print and maintaining strong corporate commitment assisting in our non-profit community. B Corp certification allows us to strike the perfect balance between local, attentive service and professional experience and expertise.”

Main Street Benefits believes everyone should have health insurance and understand how to use their coverage to manage their health and well being. We couldn’t agree more!

For more information, visit Can you think of a time when you could have used a service such as Main Street Benefits? Tell us your story in the comment section!

Fullpower Safety Comics

Fullpower Safety Comics:

A First Friday Book Review

Remember when you were a little kid and you wished for super powers? Really cool stuff like an invisible force field or Herculean strength? What if I told you …

That you DO have those powers, and a whole lot more? It’s true!

The Fullpower Safety Comics explain, using simple drawings and concise language, that everyone has the power to be confident, strong, and respected. The humorous artwork and clear dialogues show that the more you exercise these powers, the safer you can be.

Is someone using hurtful language? Use the strength of Trash Can Power to throw those words away! Is someone itching for a fight? Use the invisible shield of Walk Away Power to remove yourself from a potentially dangerous situation! These concepts and more are covered in Fullpower Safety Comics, the third in a series of books designed to teach safety and self-confidence to people of all ages and abilities.

While the safety comics are light-hearted in appearance, the lessons on each page are very real. Internet safety, bullying, and sexual harassment are all presented in non-threatening, easy-to-absorb language and visuals.

Teens and adults will benefit from reading Fullpower Safety Comics, but your little ones won’t be left out! Two volumes of Kidpower Safety Comics, for ages three to ten and nine to thirteen respectively, provide many valuable lessons for the younger set.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the idea that it’s better not to make waves, or to get involved in “other people’s problems,” and this is where the underlying principle of the Kidpower and Fullpower Safety Comics comes in.

“The safety and self-esteem of a child are more important than anyone’s embarrassment, inconvenience, or offense.”

The folks at Little Pickle Press believe so strongly in the messages conveyed in these Safety Comics that they’re offering special 40% off pricing on the newest editions through the month of September. Order your copies today, and consider picking up extras for your school, daycare, or local hospital.

Going Out Alone

Kidpower Safety Comics—Not Just for Kids

We have a number of books at home that my daughter picks out for us to read together over and over again—but only one that she consistently picks out to read with every one of our family members, babysitters, and guests who visit our home. She pulls out a raggedy copy of the Kidpower Safety Comics for younger children (ages 3-10). It’s not even our first copy—I think we are on the third or fourth by now.“I just want to make sure they know Kidpower before we play!” she tells me as she runs over to them. She always asks me to include a copy with any present we bring to a new friend—such is her enthusiasm for her friends to learn Kidpower.Recently, my now six-year-old was looking over my shoulder as I was reviewing the new covers for the Kidpower Safety Comics series that will be launched by LPP in September—and she noticed that there are two more books. “When can I have the green one?” she asked, “And the purple one?” “When you’re older,” I assured her. I can tell she will want that green one well before she turns nine and I will be proud to share them with her.

These new releases of the Kidpower Safety Comics series from Little Pickle Press are not just improved with new covers and even more inclusive and entertaining cartoons; they also are expanded with more stories that clearly show, step-by-step, what it means when we talk about Putting Safety First and how to practice Kidpower skills to be safe and have great relationships.

I’m delighted that we have these books for her (and her generation) to grow up with—to pull out whenever she has a new friend, a problem at school, or is nervous about a new activity or transition. This summer, we made safety plans together and practiced skills she might need to be safe for each of the new and exciting camps she went to this year. Each week on the first day of a new camp we walked up, holding hands, introduced ourselves to the counselors, and then she’d let go of my hand, give me a hug and say, “Bye mommy—you can go now!” as she ran off to join her campmates. And I felt confident that she would tell me that night about new friends and how she tried new things—and that if she had a problem she knew how to get help, and that she would tell me all about that, too.

At Kidpower, we hear all the time from parents who tell us about how their kids go back to our Safety Comics over and over, how it has helped them find solutions to some tough situations, and helped them learn how to advocate for themselves and others. I wanted to give you a glimpse of that same phenomenon from my life and let you know how excited I am to show my daughter and her friends the new stories in the Safety Comics about giving consent in a friendship—and as she gets older, to look at the dating safety cartoon stories in the teen and adult Fullpower Safety Comics. These are the skills that make way for her to have joyful, healthy, deep relationships with family and friends, as well as preparing her to take on more independence. Just as important, using the Safety Comics books to reinforce and practice safety skills with her helps ME—by knowing that when she’s not with us or other adults in charge, she has the skills to make wise choices for herself.

I hope you enjoy the Kidpower Safety Comics series with your family, students, and any other children in your life, as much as we do.

Beth McGreevy is a Business IT Strategy Consultant and longtime instructor who taught the first Kidpower workshop in Israel and now serves as Kidpower’s San Francisco Coordinator and Media and Technology Strategy Advisor.
Registered trademark image courtesy of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International.