"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished." — Proverbs 22:3
I was recently shocked and horrified to realize how dangerous our world has gotten for our children. Living in a small, quiet section of a big city, my family and I rarely see any crime or hear of anything nefarious happening in our neighborhood. It’s easy to relax and believe that we are safe. But one day, as I was sitting on the side porch of our house, watching my girls play in the front yard by their favorite tree, a dark sedan with tinted windows stopped not three yards from them. It had no discernible purpose to staying there, and it was easy to see that whoever was inside had no intention of leaving. I called for my children to come to me right away. They looked at me in alarm, not understanding why I was panicked. The car suddenly sped off down the road, as if its driver had realized that I was sitting just out of sight. My heart felt as though it was pounding out of my chest.
Assuming the worst (and as parents, we cannot afford to gamble with our children’s lives), one of my little girls could have become a kidnapping victim, like so many girls and young women in the recent news.
It is never wrong to react cautiously in dangerous situations, especially those concerning our children. Parents have to be increasingly alert to the societal changes that make the world more dangerous for our kids every day. It’s easy to become relaxed at the store, or even at church where we think that we can trust everyone around us. We think that nothing bad could ever possibly happen to any of our children, so it often feels like a relief when we get to services and let them go off with their friends while we are busy fellowshipping. We think that we are in the one place where our kids are guaranteed to be safe, and don't worry when they go to the restroom by themselves, or go into another room, because we assume that there will surely be a trusted adult paying attention in our stead. But is that true? Are our children really totally safe? Is everyone around us completely trustworthy? It may help us to realize that, while meeting in rented halls, there are often custodians, other employees, and members of the public present.
While I was growing up, my parents always told me to never go too far away from them, and especially never out of their sight. While we were in large crowds, at the grocery store, or at Sabbath services, my mom would always hold my hand or otherwise keep me close. She instilled in me an alertness to danger, but children have trusting minds and are unaware of what could happen, so I would often complain that I couldn’t run off and play with my friends. As a mother, I now more fully understand my parents’ warnings and the need to protect my children from danger.
I have begun to teach my children how to avoid and handle dangerous situations. Here are some tips on protecting your children and teaching them to be alert:
Our children are God’s special gifts to us as parents, and He has given us an incredible opportunity to raise them. We can and should zealously guard the wellbeing of our most prized possessions. Unlike a valuable jewel, which can be locked in a safe, our children have to interact with others and deal with situations when we aren't around. We can't always be there to protect them, but we should vigilantly pray, watch, prepare, and caution them against danger.
"You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield." — Psalm 115:11