KINGSPORT - "Be smart, not scared." That's one of three keys that will be stressed Wednesday at a workshop aimed at helping children escape possible abduction.
The Dignity Memorial Escape School will be presented Wednesday from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at V.O. Dobbins Community Center at 302 Louis St. in Kingsport.
According to presenter Tracie Eaton of East Lawn Funeral Home, one of the program sponsors, the elimination of predictable reactions during a possibly dangerous abduction is one of their goals.
"The things that we teach can help a child make smart choices rather than scared, predictable choices," she said.
The curriculum also addresses dealing with strangers.
"One of the very first things we try to get across is the way that a child can judge a stranger," said Eaton.
"We try to get them to judge them by the way they act, not the way the look. They need to know what kind of situation they are in before it starts if they encounter a bad stranger. We try and give them tips as to what to say or what actions to take should the level of the situation rise to where they could be taken."
The program also stresses to "get away, right away" in such cases as a possible kidnapper pulling up near the sidewalk asking them to get in the car.
The data used in the Escape School, which has been highlighted on such programs as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and in "Parents" magazine, is derived from information collected and shaped by an advisory board that includes a former special operations unit officer from the New York City Police Department.
Eaton also stressed that adult participation is essential for the program to work.
"Families are the best teachers for personal safety. That's why we have both the child and parent involved in the school," she said.
New Vision Youth Director Johnnie Mae Swagerty, another program sponsor, says several day-care and supervisory groups of children from Kingsport have inquired and pledged to attend the school on Wednesday.
"I guess I've always been scared of what our kids have to face on a daily basis, but that doesn't even include what some of the folks with bad intentions have in store for them. Kids and parents both have to be ready for something like abduction, and we think (the Escape School) can be some valuable information for them," said Swagerty.
For more information contact Eaton at East Lawn Funeral Home at 288-2081, Swagerty at 246-6623 or visit the school's Web site at www.escapeschool.com.