On the day your local newspaper lists the birth of your child, you probably buy a paper or get one from a friend and clip out the official announcement to put in your family record. Very likely, the newspaper list includes the names of other parents whose babies were born on the same day. Although you may not realize it, you have a lot in common with these parents. Many of the hopes and fears you have for your child are the same hopes and fears that they have for their newborn. The birth of a child (and the pregnancy) affects most of us with joy, awe, and a little bit of fear—that we might not be up to the job of parenting with all of its responsibilities—keeping the child healthy, protecting the child from harm, and helping the child grow and develop into a contributing member of society. It’s a big job.
Even before your baby is born, you are concerned with your baby’s safety. You purchase and install a rear-facing child safety seat in the back seat of the car ready for the ride home. Like other new parents, you have been making your home safe for your child. You are already investing time and money in the important responsibility of keeping your child safe.
Time passes. There are different dangers now. Your child is about to leave your safe home for the first day of school. You face the reality that your role in keeping your child safe is decreasing, and your child’s role is increasing. Your child must know how to handle dangerous situations without you. You have been preparing for this day. Very likely, your child can give his or her name and address, and knows to look left-right-left before crossing the street. You have been teaching your child how to stay safe in the world.
Ten years pass, and your baby-turned-teenager is preparing to drive off in the family car for the first time. Your heart skips a beat, and your stomach aches with a dull, heavy pain. You taught your child safety habits. Your child can handle the car, but what about those other new drivers? What about drivers who are drinking? What if it rains? Once again, you think about what you can do to keep your child safe. You’ve made your home safe for your child. You’ve made your child safe for the world. But now that you realize all of the risks “out there,” you know you haven’t done enough. You want to make the world safe for your child.
There are other parents “out there” who share your concerns—parents who used child safety seats and safety gates, and who taught their children how to cross the street safely. You’ve talked with them at back-to- school night, football games, and school fund raisers. They worry about the same problems you do—drugs, gangs, crime. These aren’t problems that can be fixed easily, but they are problems that concerned parents can work on together. Join with these parents to tackle the problems in your community that threaten the safety of children.
All kids are our kids. Keeping your child safe can only be accomplished in a community where all children are safe. Your commitment to do all that you can to make your community safe for your child becomes your obligation to do all that you can to make your community safe for all children.