Clinic shows youth how to use ‘Street Smarts’

Published 11:35 pm Saturday, June 13, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — Whether backwards or forwards, the big guy always won.

That’s one of the lessons Chesapeake area youngsters learned Saturday morning in a Street Smarts safety clinic at the Chesapeake Community Center.

“An adult can run much faster than you,” Tim Farren, instructor, told the youth after he had them participate in running drills with him. Each time he beat the children in a variety of foot races.

Farren, a third-degree black belt who also teaches karate classes at the center, offers the clinic at least once a year.

“Basically it is learning to stay safe when they are out in group settings, churches or out with the family or at parks, to keep an eye on their parents, to know where their parents are at,” Farren said.

The participants also learned that when a stranger approaches them when they are on their bike, that the bike can act as protection.

“Use your bike as a barrier between you and the stranger,” Farren said as he demonstrated. “If you hold that bike, it makes it even more difficult for a stranger to pick you up. It doesn’t take very long for someone to grab a kid and walk off with him.”

The youth were also told that simply screaming “help” is an ineffective tool nowadays. Instead, if a stranger is trying to harm them, they should try what Farren called “an attention-getter.”

Examples he gave included: “You are not my mom. You are not by dad. I don’t know you.” or “You are a stranger. I’m not supposed to go with you.”

“These phrases get parents’ attention,” Farren said. “You will get the attention of other parents.”

Demonstrations from the Chesapeake Volunteer Fire and Police departments were also given as well as watching Ace, the German Shepherd of the Ironton City Police K-9 unit, go through his paces with handler, Capt. Mark Wilson.

First, Ace showed how he can sniff out drugs, as dummies were hidden around the Community Center’s gym. Then he gave a demonstration of how he would attack a criminal using the heavily protective arm of Patrolman Chad Gue.

“This is an important event for the kids,” Chesapeake Police Chief Dennis Gibson said. “It shows them how the trucks operate and what the fire department and police department do.”

Other Street Smart Tips offered in the class were:

“Stay far enough away from a stranger that they can’t touch you.

“Keep a barrier between you and a stranger. Things like a tree or fence.”

“Have a secret code word with your parents so if a stranger tells you that you need to come with them because your parents are hurt, you can ask them for the code word.”

“Know how to dial 911 and explain your emergency.”