Child safety expert to teach 'Child Lures' course

  • Published
  • By Paula Spooner
  • Family advocacy outreach manager
Ken Wooden, an educator, published author and developer of several child safety programs will present two child safety courses entitled "Child Lures 8:30-10 a.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. April 20 at the Sablich Center in room 108. The first is for anyone who works with or for children in a professional capacity and the second presentation is reserved for parents and children.
I know I will be there.

When my oldest daughter, now 25, was 14, she was abducted. It was one of those horrific life experiences that are "supposed" to happen in other cities, to other people -- to faceless strangers we might read about and think, "What would I ever do....? "

But happen it did, to a beautiful young lady who did nothing more to "ask for it" than to have the belief that the world was hers for the taking, that no one could possibly have malevolent intentions, that opportunity is by its very nature a positive thing. Hers was truly a crime of opportunity -- she was, as they say, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her one grave mistake was sharing that trademark outgoing, talkative personality with dangerous people. Thankfully she escaped alive, but not all children are so lucky.

The truth is none of us is completely immune to these senseless acts of terror. Nonetheless, some parents, in their difficulty imagining the unimaginable, call upon denial to cushion their perception of reality. They persist in telling themselves it can't happen to them, not in their neighborhood, not in their town, not among friends. As a clinician charged with educating Keesler about the prevention of community violence, I am alarmed by this. You see, it is an attitude that neatly places the highest-risk population in the gravest danger: Their very own kids.

There is so much we -- as parents, community leaders, educators, medical professionals, caring adults -- can do to keep the children of our communities safer. Educating our kids -- from toddler to young adult -- to identify high-risk situations is a start. Reassuring them their gut feelings matter -- a lot -- and to respond to them. Arming them with readily-usable skills they can call upon at any time, in any situation.

Thankfully, the folks of Keesler will have an unprecedented opportunity to learn from a master; this man has dedicated his life to making a safer world for children a reality, instead of a dream.

You will recognize some of these lures and some of them will be new to you. You will be encouraged to step back and look at our community's kids through the perception of offenders and then be educated on outsmarting them. Your eyes will be opened and you will be very, very glad you took two hours of your life to learn how to protect your kids. So, if you are a parent, a grandparent, a sister or brother, a neighbor, a wingman, join us. Bring your kids. Bring your neighbors. Bring your co-workers.

To reserve your space or for more information, call (228) 376-3457 or (228) 376-3459.