Growing up in the days before cell phones and instant messages, my parents had a safe word for me and my brother. It was “Purple Polka-Dot Penguin.”
The rule was simple: if there was ever an emergency at home and they had to send someone we didn’t know to pick us up, the stranger had to provide the safe word. If they couldn’t, keep walking. The situation did come up a few times and each time they were able to provide the word. My parents worked a lot.
Arizona native, Brenda James, credits her daughter’s quick thinking and having a safe word for saving her 10-year-old from being abducted.
She was walking home with a friend when a man in a white van rolled up and told her that her brother had been in an accident and she needed to go with him. When the stranger couldn’t provide the “code word” he quickly drove off. Police are still looking for him.
I encourage all parents to come up with a code word to use with their young children.