Your front door’s first line of defense
The most likely place for you or your child to be attacked is in or around your home, and 80 percent of people attacked in their home open the front door and let the attackers in.At every one of my seminars on safety, I always ask, “If someone knocks on your door, how many of you feel it is only polite to answer the door and see who it is?” Over 50 percent of all participants raise their hands. This is a classic case of a person putting the needs or feelings of someone else ahead of their own.The only reason I have a front door on my house is so I don’t have to crawl through a window with packages to get in. The front door is for my convenience. It is not for the convenience of people who drop by without calling first.A serial child molester was able to assault more than 70 children from Michigan to Florida by gaining entrance to their houses posing as the milk police, looking for bad milk. As silly as this may seem, it is important to remember that child molesters are very polished at what they do.Telling your child never to open the door to a stranger is a good start, but it is important to clarify that a stranger is everyone except the people you have told them they can trust.Explain to your children that this includes the people in their neighborhood. I know parents who have put a list of people the child can open the door to by the front door. If you are not on the list, the door does not open.Next, it is important to clarify that there is someone home. Eighty percent of all burglaries occur during the day, and 80 percent of all violent crimes start with a burglary. So it is important to always let people know the house is occupied without opening the door.In our Karate for Safe Kids program we teach the children never to answer the door. Rather, they should yell through the door, “That’s OK Mom or Dad, I’ll take care of it.” Then have them yell through the door: “My parents cannot come to the door right now, please leave a message.”In this way, they are indicating that there are a number of people home without opening the door to a stranger. Putting a note pad and pencil outside the door will reinforce this for your child and make it possible for anyone on legitimate business to leave a message. Practice makes perfect!To guarantee that your child is not coerced into opening the door, it is necessary to role play a number of scenarios that might confuse your child. For instance: What if the person keeps yelling through the door that he/she cannot understand what the child is saying. Or what if the person yells that they are from the gas company and there is a gas leak. Having your child yell through the door that they are calling 911 is a good way to handle these types of situations.In Colorado Springs, there was a rapist attacking young baby-sitters during the summer by posing as a UPS delivery man. When the young women said to leave the package outside the door the rapist said he needed a signature. No one had bothered to tell these young women that a minor’s signature is not legal, so don’t open the door.Interactive learning is the most successful and especially necessary when the subject is safety. For instance, asking your children for their opinions on the best things to yell through the door and the best place to put the note pad and pen will give them a sense of security and trust in the safety process. This will also help your children develop a feeling of power over their own lives.Finally, encourage your child to trust their feelings. After someone knocks on the door, if your child feels that everything is OK, it probably is, and they should go about their business. But if your child feels that the person has not left your property, give them a list of phone numbers for them to call. Include: Your cell phone, number at work or where you can be located, a neighbor they can trust, a relative’s number and 911.One last thought: It is imperative that you be able to see who is outside your door. If you currently do not have a window by your door or peep hole in your door, you need to get one. They are easy to install and cost less than $10. Mathew Bayley writes on personal safety issues. Vail Academy of Martial Arts, celebrating the grand opening of its second school at the Vail Gymnastics Center in Avon and its 10-year anniversary serving the Vail Valley, is accepting students for the fall and winter. Children and adult classes are offered at Aria Spa & Club and Vail Gymnastics Center in Avon starting at 3:30 p.m., six days per week. Call 949-8121 or log on at vailacademyofmartialarts.com
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