“Stranger Danger” is a golden rule children are taught from an early age, but now the concept takes an unexpected turn.
Recent news about Pennsylvania escaped prisoner has unveiled the deep-rooted issue within our communities. While trying to calm down society, Bryce Peterson, a senior research scientist at The Center for Justice Research and Innovation, made a controversial statement:
“Escapes are happening every single day.”
But then he added, “I don’t think this is something that on a daily basis people should be concerned about, even when escapes do occur. Unless you’re in the vicinity where that escape is known to be.”
Interpreting the message between his lines, we couldn’t help but think that it sounds more like “stranger danger is real, we just don’t want to scare you.”
As grown adults, we’re not scared for ourselves, but we DO have concerns about children’s safety. To address this issue, we’ve taken our time to interview experts on how to protect our children if an escaped inmate is in their area.
Expert Opinion: What to Do if Escape Inmate Is in Your Area?
We have sent the letter below to independent experts in law and psychology:
“We would appreciate your guidance on how parents should behave and what actions they should take if they learn that fugitive found in their area. This could include advice on ensuring their family’s safety, cooperating with law enforcement, communicating with their children effectively, etc.”
Here are the key insights from the in-depth answers they kindly shared with us.
Secure Your Home and Cooperate With Law Enforcement
- Respondent – Rick Chahal
- Licensed Paralegal and a Legal Assistant at Kahlon Law
- Highlight – “Enable any security systems you have in place. Inform your children about the situation calmly and reassuringly to avoid causing undue panic. Always cooperate fully with law enforcement.”
Lock all doors and windows, and enable any security systems you have in place. Inform your children about the situation calmly and reassuringly to avoid causing undue panic. Always cooperate fully with law enforcement – follow their instructions and promptly report any suspicious activity. Do not take any unnecessary risks or attempt to interact with the escaped inmate.
Your role is to ensure your family’s safety and aid law enforcement in their efforts, not to engage or apprehend the suspect.
Teach Your Child to Break the Rules in Emergencies
- Respondent – Dr. Leslie Dobson
- Clinical and Forensic Psychologist in California
- Highlight – “If there is an active shooter and we are in a restaurant, I want her to go to the places that no one else is going and the places she has been told she is not allowed to go.”
I do not agree with what our schools teach our children, and I do not think it is in line with how the FBI or CIA would come in and teach a course to our parents.
I have very direct conversations with my 6-year-old. For example, if there is an active shooter or escaped prisoner and we are in a restaurant, I want her to go to the places that no one else is going and the places she has been told she is not allowed to go, so I want her to go to the kitchen or go towards the signs that say alarm will sound.
Сreate a Detailed Family Emergency Plan
- Respondent – Marcus Fernandez
- Attorney and Co-owner at KFB Law.
- Highlight – “Create a family emergency plan. This should include safe spaces in and away from your home, emergency contacts, and a list of safety procedures.”
If you do not already have one, create a family emergency plan. This should include safe spaces in and away from your home, emergency contacts, and a list of safety procedures. In circumstances like this, well-planned preparation could be vital.
Families should always keep a calm and collected demeanor during such incidents since children take cues from adults. Note that law enforcement professionals train for these situations and will work tirelessly to restore safety and order.
Choose a Safe Room and Educate Your Children
- Respondent – Pareen Sehat
- Registered Clinical Counsellor at Well Beings Counselling
- Highlight – “Identify a safe room for your family. Make sure your children are aware what to do in an emergency”
Identify a safe room and make sure to let your family know they can seek refuge in it if needed. Make sure your children are aware what to do in an emergency, and tell them the facts in an age-appropriate manner.
Fugitive Found Nearby? Take 5 Steps to Protect Your Children
Now, take a moment to think about this: when you face a threat, your mind and body become paralyzed. That’s why law enforcement officials undergo regular training. Having a detailed plan will eventually bring your actions to auto-pilot mode.
This way, a fugitive found in your neighborhood won’t cause panic, and you’ll be ready to protect your loved ones. Here are five steps you need to take when local authorities inform you about a possible threat in your area:
Step 1: Stay Informed and Explain the Situation to Your Child
Make sure you always have access to the law enforcement official channels. For instance, they might broadcast the news through their social media accounts, local TV, or radio.
Once you get key information about the escaped inmate and safety instructions, calmly explain the situation to your children. Even if you feel over-anxious, try your best not to frighten your little ones. Otherwise, they might easily get confused and forget the safety rules you’ve taught them.
Step 2: Create a Check-In System
Staying indoors until your local authorities announce the fugitive arrested is a common sense step — and we’ll cover it later. But, your employer might insist on your showing up at work, or your children must attend school.
If your area is not under a lockdown, create a check-in system before leaving your residence. The Parentaler app, for example, lets you track the real-time location of all devices it’s installed on. You can also designate safe zones like home, work, or school to receive instant notifications whenever your loved ones enter or leave these areas.
It’s also a good idea to agree on a specific time for daily check-ins via phone. While explaining your kids these new rules, take your time to memorize the key numbers together, including police, your own, etc. And always keep your phones charged!
Step 3: Secure Your Home
Pennsylvania escaped prisoner sought food and shelter while hiding from the police. Such behavior is typical for escaped inmates — they consider your home a refuge. Hence, you must secure it in a way that makes your house a less attractive target.
Apart from enabling alarm systems, close windows, draw curtains/blinds so they won’t see a way to get in, and ensure all doors are locked before leaving the house.
Step 4: Stay In a Safe Room
If the situation escalates, gather your family in a safe room. It should have no or few windows and, most importantly, strong locks. Stock it with essentials like food, water, chargers, batteries, and a flashlight beforehand. If you have several backpacks at home, it’s better to pack essentials in them. They will serve as your emergency bags.
Step 5: Create Evacuation Plan
Prepare your children to run for life. If the escaped inmate breaks into your house and acts aggressively, or worse yet, finds his/her/their way into a safe room, the general rules should break down. Explain to your kids how to leave the house quickly, where they should go, and whom to call if something happens to you.
While someone says that the dangerous escaped inmate is a rare case, you can’t foresee the intentions of escapees being on the run. Your children’s safety is invaluable, so you can’t put them at risk by relying on luck. Adjust our guide to your situation and thoroughly educate your loved ones before any danger comes your way.