Initially it sounds like a wonderful idea, a child's backpack with the child’s name printed boldly on the outside of the backpack. After all this method would likely prevent theft, as well as any confusion in whose backpack is whose during the end of the day rush to line up for the bell. Yet, if you do put your child's name on his or her backpack, you maybe placing your child into the hands of danger.
Imagine you have just finished filling your car up with gas, you walk inside to pay, and the clerk hands you your change and says “thank you Erika.” Startled, you return to your car wondering how he knows your name. You wonder if you know him…from somewhere…maybe from work or church. As you continue to ponder this thought, you sit back down in your car, and catch a glimpse of your reflection in the rearview mirror, suddenly realizing you still have on your employee badge, which clearly states your first name.
Now consider a child walking home from school with their name printed boldly across the back of their backpack. A child predator will use the child's name to catch them off guard. The predator will allude to the fact that perhaps the child does not remember but they are a friend of the child’s mom, from mom’s work. This sense of familiarity may place a child in danger as they let down their guard, rather than running from a stranger.
How about the children who play in organized sports and where team jerseys? You know the shirts coaches want each player to wear at every game, which has each players name boldly printed across their back? The coach and parents are cheering for each child by name in front of an audience of many unknown faces.
Girls often wear jewelry with their names displayed on the necks or wrists. Sparkly necklaces stating names like Rachal and Sarah, tell the world who they are and unfortunately give the bad guys a way to contact our children. As written in the beginning of this article, adults maybe caught off guard if a stranger knows their name, and children are especially startled when they do not recognize the person who knows them.
Encourage children not to wear items personalized with their names, such as jewelry, clothes, or backpacks. Explain the dangers and reasons about why you are discouraging this habit. Please stop by the MEC Forum anytime. How do you keep your children safe? We need good ideas and can learn from one another. Until next time I ask the angels to keep each of you safe.