“If you tell anybody I hurt you, I’ll kill you.” These words generally are the types of idle threats made by school bullies. However, a child often can’t distinguish between the bravado of a bully and a real threat to his or her life. But even a young child knows that if he can’t be found, he can’t be hurt. Although the threats may not be real, the child may be in fear of his or her life. All his survival instincts may tell him to run far away as fast as he can to a place where the bully can’t locate him. In recent years, this reason has been one of the main ones for children getting lost. The child who feels someone is threatening his life may not tell anyone where he’s going and will retreat to a place where he hopes to find safety and sanctuary.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 15 to 25 percent of American students are bullied with some frequency. The National Education Association has identified bullying as a major concern by schools across the country. The U.S. Department of Education’s statistics show that although school violence has declined four percent in the past several years, the incidence of bullying has increased by five percent.
Many parents may be unaware of the perils their children face from bullies each day at school or while traveling to and from school, until they receive that alarming phone call reporting that their child has vanished from the playground and has not been seen since recess. As a parent, you’re as frightened as your child who’s run from the bully. You wonder if your child has been hurt or kidnapped. You don’t know what may have happened to your child or where to start looking for him or her. Oftentimes, after these frantic thoughts subside, you’ll start blaming yourself for not telling your child where to go, who to talk to or what to do if he or she is afraid, in trouble or has a difficult problem and needs a safe house to retreat to until you can rescue them.
Safety Measures to Take
One of the best ways to prevent your child from being lost is to reenact various types of bullying scenarios with your child and talk with him before such an incident occurs. Also, identify a neighbor or a store owner near the school who will agree to provide a safe house for your child, if he or she has a problem with bullies while walking to or from school. Make sure your child knows where that safe house is located, and the person he or she needs to contact there. Give your child a card to keep with him at all times with his picture, name, address and phone numbers of the persons to be contacted in the event of trouble. Then your child will know exactly what to do when in trouble, hurt and/or afraid.
At home, always keep an ID card with your child’s photo, name, age, birth, blood type, hair clippings for a DNA sample, allergies, hair color, eye color, race, identification marks, pediatrician’s name and phone number, dentist’s name and phone number, parents’ names and phone numbers and medical information that will enable search-and-rescue individuals to quickly and easily locate and identify your child. Due to the importance of this topic of bullying and lost-proofing your child, J. Wayne Fears, author of the book How to Lost-Proof Your Child, is offering for free a Child ID card to anyone who sends a self-addressed, stamped envelope, with a request for the card, as well as an email address to:
Child ID Cards
c/o J. Wayne Fears Brand/
Pro Tool Industries
337 Circle of Progress Dr.
Pottstown, PA 19464
Children very rarely will indicate that they’re being bullied at school, and scaring children into secrecy is how bullies control their prey. The US Department of Health and Human Services states that children and youths who are bullied are more likely than other children to be depressed, lonely and anxious, have low self-esteem, feel unwell, think about suicide and also be absent from school due to fear. Bullying has become such an important hot topic that almost every state now has laws governing bullying.
To learn about a state’s specific laws on bullying, visit the state legislature’s website and insert “bullying” as a search term.