Oct 03, 2019

By Tristan Kealy

Looking out for Children!

So often in Self Defence the techniques and scenarios we run through pertain to defending ourselves but what happens if we are not alone? What happens if we are presented with a threat and we have the lives of loved ones or friends to consider? In particular children? How does this affect our thought processes and plans?

For the purposes of this article, the third party we will be considering shall be Children and it’s intent is to provide you with some simple strategies to put in place that will at best, hopefully, circumnavigate the above problem and at worst give you are clear strategy and plan that will see you and the people you are accompanied by, safe!

For street Self Defence and Personal Safety, I am a great believer in “Planning”. Regardless of age, an informed child is far better off than an ill-informed child, regardless of the topic! With my own family, I have had regular conversations with my wife and kids as to what is to take place, what is expected of them if we are approached by anyone that sets off any sort of alarms when we are out and about. Not just the obvious potential threats of violence. My family knows that if someone looks off, we create space immediately and ensure that I am between them and the potential threat and that that space is to be enlarged as quickly as possible if needed. Meaning that if required we are running in the safest direction, away from the threat as quickly as possible. If it is required and not immediately possible, it is known that they are to be moving to safety instantly and that I will be a wall until I can (all being well) begin moving to safety myself.

In a serious event where perhaps they have had to leave me or my wife behind, we also discuss where they should head? Firstly, in a direction away from all threats. Secondly, make noise and draw as much attention to themselves as possible. Thirdly, look for an opportunity for help, i.e. people, phones, police, security, shop owners etc. We also discuss what they are to say and what they need to happen. They also know that once they are safe, found help and have conveyed the information as to what has occurred, they are not to return to the scene without appropriate help i.e. Adults, Security, Police.

I constantly discuss with my children what we should be doing in all manner of scenarios. Topics ranging from walking the dog around our local neighbourhood, entering and exiting car parks, navigating our way around shopping centres, being a part of crowds at live events such as a football match or a festival, drop off and pick up at school to the use of public transport. 

We discuss awareness and the times when we need to be switched on and what to look for. I play games with them and ask them questions: How many people are there other than us are walking on this street? What is the colour of the car behind us? Does everyone in this car park look like they belong here? Are they actively doing something we consider normal for the environment we are in? Or, are they loitering, staying in one place and seem to be observing others? 

I don’t do this all the time but I do do it when I’m with them in places that I consider warrant a certain level of awareness and my hope is that the exercise will become natural and instinctive to them over time.

Predators want to close distance and invade our space as quickly as possible. If our awareness fails us and proximity becomes an issue, we move! We move to safe space; we use our environment to aid us. We move around cars, poles, shopping trolleys anything available to us that can aid in creating space and time. A predator’s chief enemy is time. The longer and harder we can make it for them to achieve a goal, the more likely they are to call it a loss and quickly move on. We make noise, if necessary, we pick things up and throw them at them, bottles, rocks, bricks, bins, bags, coins from our pocket, anything to create a distraction and give us time to escape.

One thing for certain is that these conversations never stop! 

The reason being, as your children age, the appropriate expectations and the achievable response is going to be different for you and for them. In a situation where you are approached whilst putting groceries in your car. The actions taken will be different if your child is aged two than if your child is a hulking, testosterone fuelled, 16 year old male. The principles might be the same but the actions taken will be different none the less!

If in the above scenario you have young children, depending on time and space, it may be that if your kids are already in the car, you just shut doors and lock them, preferably with you in the car. In this case, just drive off. Don’t worry about driving over forgotten prams, groceries etc. Just drive, once safe, call the police.  Again, it depends on your levels of awareness and how much time you have afforded yourself? Maybe you have less time and the kids are locked in the car and you are stuck outside. Your objective now is moving and making a lot of noise, drawing all the attention in the world to yourself, using the car, pram, trolley, bags etc. as a barrier between you and the attacker. Again, the longer this is taking the less enthusiasm the attacker has. They risk third party intervention, the great stopper of most live attacks. Planning can play an integral part here. If we stay with this scenario, things become easier for us if we are constantly vigilant with our surveillance. If we ensure that the kids are in the car before we start on shopping items and prams. If another adult is with you, they are vigilant whilst you load the car. If you reversed your car in when you arrived it is far easier for you to exit if you need to do so in a hurry later.

These are just some of the things you can discuss with your family and friends with the aim of making everyone safer when navigating our way through the many environments we encounter in our busy lives.

This is one of the many topics we cover and elaborate on in our Women’s Self Defence Seminars and Workshops. I hope this article sparks a conversation at your house the next time you are all sitting around the table. Keep your kids informed!!!