I’ve had child safety on the brain recently, especially as I’ve been following the Sierra LaMar case, centering on the disappearance of a 15-year-old teenage girl from Morgan Hill, which is only about 30 miles from where I live. It’s basically every parent’s worst nightmare: your teenage daughter leaves for school one morning (the morning of March 16, 2012, to be specific), and then never comes home. She never made it to school, either, apparently. Then, her cell phone is found three blocks from the school bus stop, and her bag is found just a few blocks past that, containing a “neatly folded T-shirt and pants.” Then massive searches commence, and they find “an empty box” labeled “Handcuffs,” as well as two used condoms. As I type this, I can barely stop my fingers from shaking or my tears from falling, or from asking, “How in the world do you protect your child?” My heart goes out to the LaMar family, because I, too, have a little girl. Sure, my daughter is not even 2, and Sierra is 15, but I am positive that in her parents’ eyes, she will always be their beautiful, sweet, angelic little girl. I cannot imagine what they must be going through, or the devastation, the helplessness, and the anguish that must be their constant companion.
So I asked a co-worker, who volunteers for his local sheriff department, whether he had any tips for keeping our children safe. Other than the general “teach your child to be alert and aware of her surroundings,” he did give me a useful suggestion that I thought I’d pass along: make sure your daughter has a whistle around her neck or on her keychain that she can blow to call attention to her situation. He then taught me the proper way to blow a whistle (I didn’t realize there WAS a proper way): One toot = YES, two toots = NO, and three toots = HELP. As a sidenote, whistles can also come in handy during natural disasters, if you need to signal that you’re in need of assistance but cannot yell loud enough to make yourself heard. I’m going to ask my friend to do a guest blog post on disaster preparedness soon, too.
As of tomorrow, I am going to start teaching my little girl to wear a whistle around her neck and to learn to blow it like a pro. She’s my special gift from God, and it’s my sacred trust to keep her safe so that she can grow up to do His work in the world.
In the meantime, here are some other useful sites I found on how to prevent child abduction: