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Commentary: Safety Day concludes SKIP program

By Lisa Moon

I think we can all remember a teacher that made a difference in our lives.

Thorsby School teacher Angie Barnett is one of those teachers. While watching “The Oprah Winfrey Show” one day, she saw a program designed to teach children awareness about the dangers of and the lures used by predators to abduct children.

At the time, she was also reading a book by John Walsh about the abduction of his son, Adam. She couldn’t imagine how anyone could live through the heartache of losing a child that way.

Right away, Barnett started teaching the basics of what has become the Safeguarding Kids Is Priority program to her own children at home while she waited for her information packet to arrive in the mail. She then got together with the other teachers, and later with parents, to discuss bringing the program to Thorsby. The program got 100 percent participation from the other kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers.

“It has progressed from, ‘let’s try this,’ to something we do. It is part of Thorsby now,” Barnett said. “The program teaches kids to be aware of their surroundings and the actions of others.”

An example of the kinds of things Barnett considers important to teach is for kids to know that abuse is not their fault and to teach them that they can talk to their parents and teachers about these kinds of things.

Safety Day, held last May, was the conclusion of the two-week training program. The Chilton County K-9 patrol and Special Operations Units were on hand as well as Operation Lifesaver and Thorsby fire and police departments.

“It is important the students know that we are approachable,” Thorsby Chief of Police Rodney Barnett said.
Angie Barnett said she would like to see other schools get involved in the SKIP program. They can do so by logging on to www.childluresprevention.com.
“It takes time (to do the program), but when you hear about an abduction or abuse, you have to think: What if that was my child?,” Barnett said.