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Keeping children safe is the focus of the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center as it offers radKIDS: Personal Empowerment Safety Education.

“This is about empowering children, not scaring them,” said Erica Melton, the center’s Education and Outreach coordinator and radKIDS instructor. “We’re teaching them in a way where they use their own mind to solve the problem and think about what they need to do to get help or get away from this situation.”

RadKIDS teaches bullying prevention, abduction prevention, and child abuse prevention in a manner that kids will find enjoyable and empowering.

The Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center is holding two radKIDS sessions: July 5-8 and July 25-28. The sessions cover the same material, so you only need to register for one. Times are 12:30-1:30 p.m. for ages 8-12 and 1:30-2:30 p.m. for ages 5-7. Registration is $15 per child and available online.

The program will take place in the Reed Building, 402 E. Jackson St. in Burnet.

Melton and co-instructor Alyssa Mikell, the center’s program director, will cover different topics each day of each session. Day 1 might focus on the basics, such as when and how to use 9-1-1, Melton said. Everything is geared toward the age group, and kids learn more than just “stranger danger.”

“We’ve been teaching ‘stranger danger’ for a while now, but kids need to know that, sometimes, they may need help from a stranger,” Melton said. “We’ll talk about who is a stranger. We’ll talk about who would be a good stranger to look for if they find themselves needing help.”

A good stranger might be a store clerk or someone in uniform. The instructors will offer tips on how kids can identify which strangers to go to for assistance. 

Other things radKIDS empowerment strategies teach is how children can evaluate situations such as when an adult asks for help looking for lost pets or directions.

“We ask kids, ‘Should adults be asking kids to help them or should they be asking another adult?’” Melton said. “So many kids go along with an adult because they’ve been taught to be respectful to adults. We teach them tools they can use for when they’re in a questionable or dangerous situation.”

The program also covers basic self-defense.

The Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center is offering Stage 1 of radKIDS with plans for additional stages in the future. The $15 registration fee includes a workbook that kids can take home to go over with their parents and covers future program enrollment. Parents and caregivers can observe the course as well.

Call Melton at 512-756-2607 or visit the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center website for more information.

The Three Principles of radKIDS

1. No one has the right to hurt them because they are special.

2. They don’t have the right to hurt anyone else, including themselves, unless someone is trying to hurt them, and then they have every right to stop them and radKids learn how.

3. If anyone ever tries or has tried to hurt them, trick them, or make them feel bad (inside or out), it is not their fault, and since it is not their fault, they can tell.

daniel@thepicayune.com