As a stay at home mom, I find myself out in public with my little one and think that we can potentially be an easy target. I try to get out of the house daily. Most of the time we go to the park that's right down the road from us. It's in walking distance, so I strap my little one into the stroller and head out for some exercise/playtime. Every mom knows that getting the incredible amount of energy out of your little one is crucial!
More often than not, its just us and a few other woman with their children. I am a pretty cautious person. I always carry some kind of protection with me, and I am determined to use it if need be. I think you have to set your mind to protecting yourself and your child. My husband often reminds me to bring something along for safety purposes. It's easy to make comments about the mama bear instinct coming out when your babies are in danger, but when it comes to keeping yourself along with your little ones safe in public, I believe the best thing you can arm yourself with is knowledge. Knowing exactly what to do in a potential dangerous situation can be just as effective as carrying a weapon of some kind. If you do not know how or when to use it, it will remain useless.
After hearing several stories about strangers preying on moms with children, I felt like it was important to learn more about this topic of protecting myself if I was ever in a dangerous situation. So, I went straight to the professionals and interviewed a friend of mine who is also a deputy sheriff, and he gave me some great advice which I want to share with you!
Below is our Q&A! I hope it gives you some insight on how important it is to stay alert and do what you need to protect yourself and your children!
Q: As a mom on the go with a little one, I often find myself in situations where I feel vulnerable to dangerous encounters. For example, jogging at the park in the morning on a weekday when no one else is there. It’s just me and my little one. What ways can I protect myself and what do I need to look for to predict these types of situations?
A: It’s always a normal saying that when you step outside your residence it’s hard to avoid the unknown dangers that can occur. The only option you have is to be prepared, believe that you are not an exception to becoming a victim in a crime, and remain CALM!
Some citizens tend to assume they are “super heroes” and that becoming a victim to a physical crime due to them being a certain size, race, and/ or financial status will prevent the worst from happening. (Crime has no limitations or discrimination!!)
How can you prepare? Again, to remain CALM is the first step! Don’t show any physical signs of fear to the potential subject. Just like in the wild, predators can sense fear, which will make them act quicker as now they are more confident they can dominate the potential target.
Get on the phone or start your camera to record full descriptions of the subject to include clothes, tattoos, markings, hair style, accent, etc. Send that message to a loved one. (Just a FYI message not to alarm, but just to give your loved one a heads up that you have a funny feeling about a certain situation and/or person nearby.)
If it is a park related situation don’t carry many items or put within the stroller. Just phone, ID, water, and items you could care to lose if you have to run. Practice picking up your child and running with him/her. If you are in fear of harm, does it really matter to leave a $200 dollar stroller there?
Things to look for:
*HANDS* – Hands are what harm! What is the subject you are questioning doing with their hands? Where are they? Is the subject appearing to hold a certain object that doesn’t fit the needs of the area?
*Person walking around you; trying to avoid potential eye contact
*Sweet comments and gestures to appear friendly and get your guard down.
*Always attempt to look 50 to 100 yards ahead of you. Imagine a person jumping out from one of the trees. Plan this in your head so it’s expected that way you can have a quicker reaction and not stall. Look for signs within the trees unnatural movement of limbs indicating a person or animal could be near. (This is weather based if it’s not windy items should not be moving around as much and etc.)
I really like that you included things to look for in suspicious situations. Sometimes I wonder if I am being too cautious in certain situations, but now I know exactly what to look for in trying to interpret the difference between a dangerous situation and a safe one.
Also, it's SO important to remember to stay calm. I think it's important to stay calm so that you remember the smart things to do, but also so that you don't frighten your little ones too!
Okay, onto the next question....
Q: I’ve gotten asked this question by many of my mom friends. When leaving the grocery store, which do you load first? The groceries or the baby? It’s a fairly simply question that I’ve asked myself when I first became a mom, but it’s an important one! With all the stories you hear on the news about robberies happening in daylight in parking lots, what do you suggest and how can one better protect themselves against situations as these?
A: This is total preference, but have a plan for each action.
*If Baby First-
Normally the subject isn’t really looking to grab the child. The subject more so wants the car and/or your purse.
So placing the baby inside the car with the vehicle OFF.
Place the items into the vehicle closer to the baby’s side if possible. That way if someone does approach, you have quick access to grab your child and run.
If you have numerous items and you need to go to the trunk to put them in. Open both BACK passenger doors that way if the subject approaches from one side and closes the door you have the ability to rush to the other side and still get within the vehicle to get your child and attempt to rush out.
Again open both passenger doors in the backseat and lock the driver side door. (The car should be off and keys either at this time in your pocket or in hand.)
Leave the purse off of your shoulder and visible in the basket. If that is what the subject wants let him grab it. No need to get into a fight or have a potential kidnapping situation when the subject can just take your purse.(Fight for an expensive purse or fight for you to live another day with your child?)
*If Baby Last-
Leave your driver side door open and put purse on top of car or in seat. Put groceries in from the passenger back side of your vehicle that way you are on the opposite side of the attacker. You want to avoid as less conflict and interaction with the subject as much as possible. If the subject wants what you have then his mind is made up and he WILL TAKE IT. So why not make it easier than physical.
Remember: *Life over property*
FYI-LOOK AT THE STORE AND ATTEMPT TO PARK IN AN AREA WITH LIGHT. OBSERVE A SPOT WHERE ONE OF THE OVERHEAD STORE CAMERAS ARE FACING YOUR VEHICLE FOR SUSPECT DISCRIPTIONS AND TO HELP WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT. (PARK IN CAMERA VIEW)
First, let me say that I'm happy to hear that there is no one, perfect way to do this! I have put my babies in the car first and I have put the groceries in the car first. Personally, I prefer to put the groceries in the vehicle before putting my babies in just because I feel that they are safer with being with me the whole time.
Something I do need to work on is looking for parking spots near a parking lot camera. That's such a great idea! I usually look for spots closest to the grocery cart return station.
This next question comes from a personal experience I had when my first child was just over a year old. It was something that shook me up knowing that people can be so bold as to follow you around a popular grocery store!! Such a frightening situation, so I want to know exactly what to do!
Q: Having recently been followed by a strange man in the grocery store while with my little girl, what would you say the best protocol is in this situation? He was clearly following us from aisle to aisle and when I would look at him, he would pick something off the shelf and look at it. I had a very uneasy feeling about it, so we left. There weren’t many people in the store at that time because of the time of day, and it made me feel very uncomfortable. What should mom’s do in situations like this?
A: If it is a store no matter the time of day then at least 2 or 3 people may be inside. At this time due to people being inside you can stand your ground a little more. Record or take a picture of the subject even if he sees you. If he keeps following you and you are sure of this ask him if you can help him or if he knows you… Once you get right in the face of an alleged attacker he knows you will be able to identify him and sometimes won’t expect such a bold approach from a potential victim. Remember attackers prey on people they find vulnerable in most cases. A loud victim or confrontational victim is not what he/she is looking for.
Lastly, call the police for a suspicious person if a store clerk can’t walk you to your car. That way you can be watched as you walk to your vehicle. If the store clerk is walking with you, have your phone recording until you are locked and safe within your vehicle.
Having a store clerk or employee walk you to your car is an amazing idea! Looking back on that day, I wish I would have thought of that because as my little girl and I were heading to the car after leaving the store, I was constantly looking around to make sure I wasn't being followed. I felt very unsafe, but now I have a plan set in my mind if something like this ever happens again!
Now onto the final question...
Q: Lastly, do you have any other advice or tips for moms on the go that are often alone with their little ones? What are some everyday, simple techniques or procedures we can do to avoid dangerous situations?
A: Stay Vigilant !!!
Always look ahead and prepare for a situation to arise. Play situations in your head that could occur as you walk to your vehicle so the surprise doesn’t stall you as much and allows you to react in a fluid manner.
Purchase a portable personal safety alarm that produces a loud noise to catch the attention of potential witnesses. This tool can also confuse the subject and cause too much attention making him flee the scene to avoid being noticed.
Never turn your back completely when putting groceries or going within your vehicle. Lean in side ways to get or put in whatever item you need. This gives you the ability to still keep an eye out even if it’s only 180 degrees.
While walking don’t just look one direction constantly keep your head on a swivel. Observe any and all potential hazards.
**Things to consider**
Statistically, women have a higher percentage of not being fully prepared or knowing how to fight off a potential attacker who may pose a greater/stronger advantage over her.
Most people in society lives in their own world of disbelief of what’s going on around them and that they will never become “THAT” person. Remember when you leave your home everyone becomes a potential victim to any form of incident/crime. You can’t control the world outside of your home, but you can control your mindset and preparedness.
If you happen to train, take classes, prepare with your significant others and children on what to do in certain scenarios you will increase your chances of not becoming a victim.
I hope you find this information helpful and useful! It makes me feel better to have gained professional- based knowledge on this topic! It's such an important topic to education yourself on, and I believe that the best action to take against people who prey on moms with little ones is to be knowledgeable about a dangerous situation! Just like my friend said, be prepared, stay calm, and have a plan set ahead of time so that you know exactly how to react. Don't be blind to what is going on around you. Stay vigilant and most importantly stay safe. Like he told us, women are statistically the most vulnerable. Let's begin to end that by using the knowledge he gave us!
I encourage you to share this with as many mom friends as you can! Just knowing the right things to do in a harmful situation can save someone's life, and possibly prevent others from getting hurt!
Don't forget! No matter where you are at, no matter how "safe" you think an area is, there can still be danger! Don't ever get too comfortable and lose awareness of what is going on around you!
I would like to give a very special thanks to the deputy sheriff who imparted this pertinent information on us so that we can best protect ourselves and most importantly, our littles! I am so thankful for the men and women who strive to protect us every day!!
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What things do you do to keep your little ones safe while you're in public places? I would love to know, so please leave me a comment below!!
Author- Marianne L. Johnson
This is a blog about my journey and adventure of being a mom. Let's be honest! Motherhood is nothing but an adventure. Some days you roll with the punches while other days unfold to be little specks of perfection. With whatever kind of day I get presented with, I always find God's glory, grace and blessings.