How to Protect Kids (dedicated to Jessica Ridgeway)

Last week I was working at my desk when one of those horrific-sounding emergency alerts came on the radio about the weather – or so I thought. Instantly my heart sank, as I noticed the skies outside were dark and maybe this was a tornado warning.

But this warning was different. The announcer stated the Amber Alert for missing girl Jessica Ridgeway was officially over. She was found murdered, and the search was now a mission for justice.

My heart sank further.

Then I went and picked up my kids, hugging them tighter than usual. Kissing them more than they appreciated. Doing this not just for me, but for all the parents out there who can’t anymore because someone murdered their child.

All of us at Girls Fight Back send the friends and family of Jessica Ridgeway our love, support and our deepest sympathy. We stand with you in solidarity of intolerance, and hope someday you can find peace.

When I was a guest on NBC’s John Walsh Show a few years back, John said it so eloquently:

“Parents shouldn’t bury their children.”

I’ve had a unique perspective knowing parents who have lost children to homicide over the past decade, starting with the beautiful McNamara family – the loved ones of my friend Shannon who was murdered in 2001. GFB started because of 9 little words Cindy said to me at Shannon’s funeral:

“I am just so afraid she will be forgotten.”

My outward response was a tight hug for Cindy, leaving a tear on her shoulder. My internal response was I will make sure that never happens.

Over the years I have watched the McNamaras, John Walsh, and so many others go through the stages of losing a child in a violent way. They are some of the most inspiring people I know. Our deepest hurt often inspires our greatest courage.

So how do we move forward after losing children like Jessica, and others?

The violence expert in me advises you to educate your kids and educate yourself. The self-defense instructor in me suggests you sign your kids up for a class like FAST Cats (created by GFB’s self-defense trainer Bill Kipp) or Kid Power. If you just want to dip your toe into this subject with your child, start with a Safe Side Superchick DVD. It’s awesome and totally un-scary. The researcher in me asks you to recognize that most violence and abductions involving children is committed by someone they know. The threat assessment manager in me recommends reading Gavin de Becker’s book Protecting the Gift. Costing less than $10 on Amazon, it’s one of the best investments you can make in your child’s safety.

And the mother in me advises you to go back into your child’s room after she is asleep tonight for one more kiss on the forehead.


4 thoughts on “How to Protect Kids (dedicated to Jessica Ridgeway)

  1. Kym Rock

    So sad it breaks my heart about Jessica Ridgeway so much evil in this world. Its not a perfect world for sure. So sad they can’t even walk to school by themselves. Like Erin I urge families that are worried about their loved ones to reach out for information on what you can do now to educate yourselves and your children mental has to be part of it and also escape.

    Great post and I agree absolutely kids need mental first what to look out for and how to be trained and how to react, like your program we give the girls or boys what they need to know now. Keep up the great work! We have Certified Fight Like a Girl Instructors in 30 states. Together we can all help. Thanks for what you are doing Erin! My headquarters are here in Colorado maybe we can get together sometime 🙂 I love what your doing keep it up and God Bless!
    Kind Regards,
    Kym Rock CEO
    Fight Like a Girl Inc.

  2. Julie

    It takes a village. Those of us that are home in our neighborhoods need to look out for ALL children – not just our own. And, what I knew as carpooling to get me safely to and from school may need to become walkpooling as well. Individualism has gone too far in our culture, and we need to rebuild communities of safety – where our children can know the safety in numbers and the protection of adults, and where perpetrators see that they are being watched by more than smaller, vulnerable children. Self defense and education are helpful, but let’s face it, violent perpetrators prey on the small and weak because they are vulnerable, and can be overpowered. But, the power of numbers and protective adults is greater than any single violent perpetrator. Parenting is a community activity, so know the adults who live near you, and bind together with your neighbors to create a safe environment for everyone’s children.

  3. Sil Miller

    My thoughts, prayers and love goes out to this family. No parents should have to bury their child. Unfortunately we live in a world that we have to. I believe that Erin is doing the work of God by teaching these woman and children how to defend themselves against potential attackers. This is such a great organization. I have to do a business plan for one of my classes and I choose to do self-defense classes. I am just really happy that there is another person out there that wants to help educate people on how to defend themselves. Like I said before, I believe that this is a great organization. Keep up the great work Erin and continue to educate these people on how to protect themselves!

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