Do you have a family safety code phrase? 

 January 31, 2021

By  Oak Norton

family safety code phrase

To say I grew up in a safety conscious home would be an understatement. My father was involved in fighting insurance fraud and often worked with law enforcement doing some rather dangerous things. His life had even been threatened in open court and as a result, we never knew if someone would try doing something stupid one night so our house was well prepared for contingencies. Beside a normal alarm system, we had electronic panic buttons through the house that if you pressed the button, the cops were on their way. We had guns in every room, and we had cameras mounted at the doors with TV’s inside the doorway to see who was there way before “Ring” cameras were a thing.

Thankfully, not every home needs prepared that way, but one thing our father implemented that everyone should do is have a family safety code phrase no one outside your family knows which could be used in an emergency without giving those around you an idea of what you’re saying. For example, ours was a reference to uncle Charlie.

We didn’t have an uncle named Charlie, but if we were in distress at school or somewhere and needed help, we just had to get on the phone with family and said something like, “did uncle Charlie arrive OK?” Or “tell uncle Charlie I said hi,” or something like that. It meant something was seriously wrong and we couldn’t openly talk about it.

Or if our parents ever had to send someone else to school to pick us up, we were not to go with them unless we knew them and they knew to mention uncle Charlie and then it would be safe.

In today’s environment at school, there are a number of other issues that might make a child very uncomfortable where they feel threatened in some way but using an office phone in front of school staff they may not feel comfortable expressing what’s got them troubled. Telling you they don’t feel well over the phone might not indicate the seriousness of the situation and cause you to say “just tough it out,” but a reference to your code phrase would be your clue to take this very seriously.

Discuss: Come up with a family safety code phrase and role play or discuss ways to use it.


(Image by Oleksandr Hrytsiv @ 123rf.com)

Oak Norton

Father of 5 children, husband to 1 amazingly patient woman, entrepreneur, and education advocate.

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