I had a different blog ready to go for today, until news of the death last night of 9 year old Skylar Kauffman made the rounds on the media. She was playing outside her apartment complex, and didn’t return for dinner. Her body was found in a dumpster at 12:30 this morning, having been raped and beaten. A 25 year old man has been arrested and is being held without bond. She fought until the very end.
I am heartbroken, angry, sad and outraged. I did not know her, but that really doesn’t matter. She was a child, and now a mother is grieving and shattered, and a young life was taken too soon.
Helplessness is prevalent in a situation like this, and today’s blog is all I can do to make it go away – for myself, and maybe for you too.
For the last 7 years, I have been certified as a WomanSafe presenter, teaching Rape Prevention and Women’s Self Defense to local girls and women. Ten years ago, one in ten women/girls were the victim of an attack or an attempted attack. Today the number is one in three. There are some things you can do to protect yourself, and your daughters.
First and foremost, do not ignore your intuition. It’s given to you for a reason, and just like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it, it will atrophy and become useless. Listen to that voice that tells you something is not right – whether it be a person or a situation. Teach your children to listen to that voice as well.
Be aware of your surroundings. I know as moms, we sometimes get tunnel vision in parking lots, playgrounds, etc., focusing only on our kids. Be aware of everyone and everything around you.
Let your children know that they are not being rude if they run away from someone that makes them feel uncomfortable. I would rather someone thinks my child rude than to have to deal with them being attacked. The same goes for us as adults. I don’t care if someone thinks I’m rude, or in some cases, completely out of my mind. As long as I can go home safely to take care of my kids, I don’t care what anyone thinks.
Know who your children are playing with. Get to know the parents of the kids. In most rape situations, especially with children, the attacker is someone known to the child.
If your child comes to you and relates an incident that has scared them, or makes them uncomfortable, stay calm, and let them talk about it. Ask them questions that they can answer, and move on from there.
Talk openly and honestly about good touch/bad touch, at whatever level your child can understand. Pedophiles work from a position of trust they have gained through manipulation. Instill in your children that no one has a right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
As women, we have weapons everywhere that we don’t even know about. Go through your purse, and you’ll be amazed at what you can use. Pens, keys, nail files, even day planners can be used. And if your purse is like mine, nice and heavy, it makes an excellent weapon. Think David and Goliath. Describing how to use these items can be a bit graphic, so if you have specific questions about anything in this blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
You also have natural weapons – fingernails, the palm of your hand, knees, elbows, and your voice. The palm of your hand to the base of the nose in an upward thrust is extremely effective, as is a knee to the groin, elbow to the jaw, or fingernails to the eye. There are many martial arts schools that can teach you and your child how to use these weapons in a way that is not threatening.
Someone commented today that “Evil is winning.” No my friends, it is not. Every time a parent is ridiculed for being over protective, and continues to BE over protective, (is there such a thing?) evil slinks away to a corner and weakens just a little. Every time a lesson is learned from tragedy, evil shrinks a little more. If society can still feel shock and disgust from something like this, evil stops laughing. I refuse to believe there isn’t more good in the world than evil.
Hug your children. Protect them. Teach them to protect themselves. And pray for Skylar’s family. They’re going to need all the love, support and prayers they can get to survive the darkness that lies before them.
Karen Cluxton lives in Hatfield, PA, and has three teenagers – Halle 16, Owen 14, and Grace 13. Between shuttling kids to soccer, baseball and physical therapy, she trains in Mixed Martial Arts.