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How a family password keeps your kids safer

by Lori Hoeck on November 30, 2009

Beyond the Self Defense Tweets:
Taken randomly from my self defense tweets on Twitter.  I write super-short blog posts to go Beyond the Tweet, chosen from the archives.

The Tweet:GONE-1

Have a Password with kids. Only people with that password get to pick them up or come in house when you aren’t there.

Beyond the Tweet:

It’s easy for a criminal or predator to play the role of an unknown family friend or authority:

  • “Your mom has been in a car accident and taken to the hospital. I’m here to take you to her.”
  • “You mom and dad had to leave town early. I’m here to take you home.”
  • “Your older sister can’t pick you up today. She sent me instead.”
  • “I’m your cousin from Wisconsin. I’m dropping in to surprise your parents.”

An easy defense against this tactic is to have a family password, such as “peanut butter” or “popcorn.” Don’t use these two passwords — pick something easy to remember but personal to the family. Children need to know it is OK to be firm and ask, “What is the password?” People with the correct password will be considered safe.

Passwords must be kept secret! If there’s any doubt about a person, inform kids they must call or have a trusted adult (school teacher or neighbor) call to verify the information for them.

Lori Hoeck

Want to discover more on physical, mental, or emotional self defense? My most recent articles and blog posts can be found by clicking here.

I tweet here @LoriHoeck.

Photo: Mirko Macari


1 Davina December 1, 2009 at 7:09 am

I wouldn’t have thought of this and in this day and age of passwords for everything… how could I have missed it? Lori, this is a great idea.

2 Lori Hoeck December 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

Hi Davina,
I like the beauty of its simplicity. Nothing much is required of the kids, but they become safer automatically.

3 Barbara Swafford December 5, 2009 at 3:39 am

Hi Lori,

I love this idea. Not only does establishing a password give parents the opportunity to communicate “being safe” with their kids, but I think the kids will also feel safer knowing they have a wall of defense against “bad people”.

4 Lori Hoeck December 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Hi Barbara,
You are so right about the empowering nature of the password. Empowering kids to take charge of their own lives this way helps them know it’s OK set boundaries in the future with adults. It makes facing the handsy professor, calling out a rude clerk, and dealing with a narcissists or user friend that much easier.

5 janice December 10, 2009 at 7:01 am

It’s a system that works. Rather than having kids confused as to who’s a ’stranger’, passwords make for easily checkable ’safe’ groups. Sadly, things get harder again as the kids get older and attend a variety of activities. It’s crucial to develop their awareness and instincts when they’re young. It helps when they’re older.

6 Lori Hoeck December 10, 2009 at 10:18 am

Hi Janice,
It does take a load off of kids’ minds. Healthy boundaries do that.

I think the presentation of the message “Keep your trust safe” must change as they reach the exploration age in the teens and college years.

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