I can’t wait for spring. Thankfully, it’s only a few weeks away, because after this past rainy season I’m ready for some sunshine, fresh air, and warm weather.
As the weather begins to change, I hope everyone gets a chance to go outside and soak in a little sunshine, maybe even take a walk.
Did you know that walking significantly improves our health and helps us lose a few of those winter pounds? One study says that walking three times or more per week can help reduce our health care expenses. In fact, some medical professionals say walking on a regular basis can help extend our lives.
Walking is good for kids and adults alike, so while you’re out getting a little exercise, invite your kids to join you. Walking helps spur intellectual capacity and problem solving, elevate our mood, reduce depression, and even improve self-esteem. So let’s all get out and walk.
Walking is great as long as it’s done safely. If your kids walk to and from school, please help them stay safe.
During the last two years, local kids walking to and from school have been approached by strangers. Thankfully, all the students acted quickly and got away from danger.
To help keep our kids safe while walking, the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) has heightened police activity near schools and sponsored school-based training to teach students what to do in these dangerous situations. At home, parents can augment these activities by talking with their children about how to avoid danger—and what to do if danger cannot be avoided.
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) says that perhaps the most important way parents can protect their children is to raise their awareness about potentially dangerous situations. This will help them when dealing with strangers as well as with familiar adults who may not have good intentions.
Children should be instructed to recognize and report suspicious behavior, including any time any adult does any of the following:
• Asks them to disobey their parents or do something without permission;
• Suggests that they keep a secret; or
• Makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.
Even with good instincts and smart behavior, kids cannot always avoid dangerous situations. If they feel threatened, they can use “No, Go, Yell, Tell” approach: say no, run away, yell as loudly as they can, and tell a trusted adult what happened.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends the following safety tips for kids:
1. Don’t talk to strangers.
2. Be aware of your surroundings; don’t focus your attention on your phone while walking.
3. Stick together; there’s safety in numbers.
4. Practice basic self-defense. A swift kick to shins; gets the attention of people in the area.
5. Lock doors, especially if home alone.
As a parent, I know it can be difficult to figure out how much information to share with your children at each age and stage of their development. If you have young children, kidsmartz.org is a great place to start. It has several videos designed to teach kids how to stay safe. The videos are in five parts and you can even play the videos on your smart phone.
For kids in grade school and older, I encourage parents to enroll their child in a self-defense class. Research shows that kids who yell or use active physical resistance are more likely to avoid being assaulted. A good self-defense course provides students with response options to an attack; it does not encourage violent behavior. As kidshealth.org says, self-defense is all about using your smarts, not your fists.
If you’d like additional resources to keep your children safe, visit the UPD website and click on the tab titled, “Child Safety Resources,” or contact UPD School Resource Officer Tony DeLapo at 463-6262 or at email@example.com.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.