Virginia Brown
Rifle, CO Colorado

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February 27, 2013
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Learning to avoid strangers

Girl Scouts Troop 10107 and their parents from Rifle recently visited with the Garfield County Sheriff's Department about "Stranger Danger."

The girls learned it is OK to listen to the "tummy feeling" if something does not seem right. We learned that when our tummy says to "look up, look around, and look down," it is good to look people in the eye, and acknowledge that we see them. Apparently, abductors don't want a target that has a voice and isn't afraid to use it. Abductors also don't want a victim that might be able to identify them.

The girls learned about their personal "hula hoop" space, being aware of their surroundings, observation skills, and that strangers are not always where danger comes from. Rather than walking home, talking or texting on their phones (appearing to be distracted to their surroundings) the girls were encouraged that, if they must talk on the phone while walking, they put the phone on speaker and talk about the details of what they see, such as "Oh, a guy in a gray sweatshirt just passed me," or "Mrs. Jones is out walking her dog."

We also learned we should never, ever help someone who says their dog is lost. If someone asks you to help, it is OK to say no. Be sure to go tell an adult that someone lost their dog and asked for help. And never, ever give directions to someone who asks. Tell them to ask an adult.

What about those people that give gifts to kids without their parents' knowledge or consent? What about "secrets?" We learned that children should never take gifts from anyone without their parents' knowledge. Parents in attendance were told if someone is giving your child presents that make you or your child uncomfortable, ask them to stop. People who are honest folks will understand you are protecting your child. People with dishonest intentions will come up with all sorts of reasons why they should be able to give your child presents.

Can you keep a secret? No. We learned that children should be taught that there should not be secrets, ever. Secrets make it so that people who need help can't get it. Surprises are OK, such as "Next week, we are going to Disney World. It is a surprise for your brother's birthday." A trust statement, "Can I trust you if I tell you that I think that boy is cute?" is also OK.

Girls attending received a booklet, "Your Child's Personal Safety: Tips to Prevent Abduction," published by Prevent Child Abuse America, child identification kits for their parents to use and a backpack filled with a coloring book, water bottle and a Junior Deputy badge.

Thank you to the deputies for spending time with Troop 10107, and to Garfield County for supporting Girl Scouts.

Virginia Brown (formerly Virginia Breckon) is membership manager, region 1 for the Girl Scouts of Colorado in Grand Junction.

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The Post Independent Updated Feb 27, 2013 05:50PM Published Feb 27, 2013 05:49PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.