Children learn safety skills from police

©Kent County Daily Times 2006

West Warwick program shows kids techniques to avoid danger

The 8-year old girl used her radKIDS stance and skills to quickly bring the man down to the ground with a quick kick to the groin and two well-placed pokes to the eyes before running for help.

As part of the radKIDS graduation, members of the West Warwick Police Department ran through various scenarios in which the children demonstrated the techniques they learned to keep themselves safe.

For five days, two hours per day, nine students between the ages of 6 and 10 took part in the radKIDS program provided by the West Warwick Police Department. The program's goal, which is taught by police officers, is to show children various ways to recognize, avoid and escape violence and abuse.
Wednesday it was the students' time to show their parents and the officers what they learned. Officers Scott Amaral and Kevin Marcotte helped the children put on knee and elbow pads along with protective gloves and a helmet.

In a separate room, Lt. Joseph Gemma and Officer Jason Greene dressed in red padded protective suits and helmets. Gemma and Greene took turns going through scenarios with the children.

Each child went through three different scenarios with the officers in the red suits. The child would walk into the room and stand on the blue mat. The officer would approach and attempt to trick the child into going with him.

"Hi Kelsey," Gemma said as the young girl entered the room. "Your mom's sick. She told me to come and get you."

"What's the password?" Kelsey asked.

"The password? Ah... monkeys," said Gemma.

Kelsey went into her defensive radKIDS stance and yelled, "Get back, you're not my mom" and then ran for a safe area in the building.
In the next scenario officers tried to lure students away by asking them to help look for a puppy or by offering them tickets to the zoo. Each time the radKIDS would take their stance and run for a safe area.

The third scenario really put the students to the test. The officers didn't just try to trick the children, they physically grabbed them.
"Get back. You're not my mom," yelled 6-year old Kaitlyn as she took a protective stance.

The man in the red suit continued toward her. The young girl jumped back but remained in her protective stance. "Get back, you're not my mom," Kaitlyn yelled.

As the man grabbed her, Kaitlyn started swinging her fists until she landed a couple of good shots to the man's head before poking for his eyes. The attacker lost his grip of Kaitlyn as he reached to protect his face. She broke free and ran for help.

Amaral said the students would say they looked forward to going to the radKIDS training because it was their favorite part of the day. He said they were very receptive and eager to learn.

"They know they can defend themselves against an adult if there is an attempted abduction," he said.

The police department plans to have more radKIDS training in the future.

The childre's last names were not used in the story at Gemma's request. He explained that the children went through the program learning how to protect themselves and not to give out information to strangers.


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