|Feather Berkower, Founder|
Parenting Safe Children
My ten-year-old niece was visiting me from out of state and was flying back home to Florida by herself for her first unaccompanied flight. She was relaxed and excited about it, and I was excited for her but also felt I needed to do my due diligence speaking with the flight attendants in charge of Berni's safety.
My goal was to let the attendants know that Berni would follow all rules on the airplane EXCEPT if her body-safety rules were broken.
With Berni at my side, I asked the three flight attendants at the gate if I could speak with them for just a minute. They agreed but seemed a bit rushed. I asked what rules Berni would need to follow on the plane because I wanted to discuss the rules with her before she boarded.
One attendant told me that flight rules would be reviewed on the plane and communicated that she didn't have time to talk with me. I understand that flight attendants are busy, particularly during boarding, but I wanted to discuss safety, very intentionally, before she flew.
So I said to the three flight attendants,
"Ok, well I'd like to tell you what Berni's rules are while she flies unaccompanied. She will follow all the rules on the airplane but she also follows body-safety rules which means that no-one touches her private parts and she doesn't touch other people’s private parts. And she does not keep secrets from adults. We review these rules with Berni regularly, and I wanted to bring these rules to your attention as she will be flying unaccompanied by an adult."
One attendant responded with, "Wow, what a lucky kid to be educated that way." The other said, "Okaaaaaay," looking like a deer in headlights. The third said nothing.
Yes, my heart was pounding and I had the momentary worry of being judged, but my commitment to speaking up on behalf of Berni and her safety trumped my fears.
I'm sure it gave these gals something to think about – and talk about! And that's a good thing because every time we are willing to have a conversation with another adult about child sexual abuse prevention, we are helping to keep children safer.