Kid's Corner


Do girls really feel safe? Two Girl Scouts discuss what safety means to them

Kascha Fuller, eighth grade  


Many years ago, before many of us were born, females weren't allowed to do anything, and they were only considered safe if they stayed at home. This went on for a while, and applied to females in every age range and of every race. And it was unfair.

Today, it is very different. Everyone is supposedly equal according to the U.S. Constitution. Some of those barriers have been broken-we can now go to school and work. But women are still put down and discriminated against. Women are expected to have certain jobs, hobbies and to do approved things. And they don't always feel safe.

Safety is not an element you are born with. Let's put it this way. Safety is a wall, and you need to find the bricks and cement to build it. You can't find this cement at Ace Hardware or Home Depot. This cement is trust. Trust holds the wall together and it's very expensive. You only can get trust by understanding and getting along with people.

I was a very active child, but rarely able to play outside because my parents didn't consider it safe. I understood. So to stay safe, I did activities around the house. Then I was in social studies class four years ago, and I received a flyer for Girl Scouts. My parents said it was OK, so I gave it a try. I soon realized we all had common interests, and our qualities were flowing in the air. We all just wanted to escape the sarcasm, the attitudes and the criticism that boys are better than girls. Our parents wanted us to make friends, learn something and BE SAFE!

Some people feel that there is nothing safe about the world, but they have failed to count all the organizations and groups that help make the world a better place.

I feel I am in safe hands at Girl Scouts. I am with people who have volunteered their time to make us feel this way. I am secure because I know that I can trust my peers. Kascha Fuller is an eighth-grader living on Chicago's West Side and a member of Girl Scout Troop 444.

Victoria Wondolowski, sixth grade  

Safety is very important to me and should be to everyone. Safety to me is just the feeling of having security and trust. One form of safety is emotional safety; it is finding where you might feel the safest. Where would you most want to be during a thunderstorm? At your friend's house or at your own house in your bedroom snuggled under the covers because you're scared? I would think that you would want to be in your own house under your covers. Even though it is just the way you feel in your mind, you just cannot help the feeling that it's the place where you would feel the most secure.

The biggest thing I am worried about right now is how we kids have to deal with teasing. I am pretty sure that almost every child has seen teasing every day or been teased before. It's not something any kid is proud of if they see it, and when I see it I want to stop and say something to the person who is teasing. I first go to an adult and explain to them what's going on, hoping that they can help. After I have told an older person, I go to the person who is being teased, and tell them that whatever the bully was teasing them about doesn't matter to me because I like the person inside. The person on the outside doesn't matter to me, being fat, having glasses or just being a person who gets picked on. You should never judge a person on how they look, because once you get to know them, it's just a friendship waiting to be discovered.

Those are my views of safety. Even though they may not be the best, they are still my views and important to me. Not being safe or not knowing how to be safe and not learning about safety when you are young can be the worst mistake a person can ever make. Make sure your children know the meaning of safety, and how important it is and will be to them in the future.

Victoria Wondolowski is a sixth-grader living on Chicago's South Side and a member of Girl Scout Troop 1578.

Editor's note The Girl Scouts of the USA recently conducted a national survey about whether girls feel safe (see story below.) We asked two Chicago Scouts to write about what safety means to them.

What girls fear

Parents know safety is a huge concern for girls, whose fears can range from being alone in the dark to school shootings. But what really makes girls feel afraid? "Feeling Safe: What Girls Say," a study from the Girl Scouts of the USA, found girls ages 8-17 most fear being teased.

"What we found that surprised us is that girls are as concerned with emotional safety as with physical safety," says Judy Schoenberg of the Girl Scouts Research Institute, which asked more than 2,000 girls about safety. Teasing was No. 1, followed by being attacked with a weapon, kidnapping, sexual molestation and gossip.

"Adults don't realize the hidden cost of girls feeling unsafe," Schoenberg says. Age plays a role in the rating of safety concerns. Older teens fear being attacked with a weapon, while the younger girls worry about kidnapping. But all girls, no matter the age, listed teasing.

Fears could mean trouble in school or social problems, including difficulty forming friendships. "Almost one-quarter of girls who feel unsafe can't identify three adults they feel safe talking to," Schoenberg says. But adults can create a safe atmosphere and here are Schoenberg's top four tips.

• Be proactive. Ask girls how they feel. Don't assume they will come to you.

• Talk about responsible behavior. Help them establish guidelines to keep themselves safe, such as leaving a party where there is drinking.

• A safe location is not enough. Girls need a trusting relationship to feel safe.

• Listen. Don't dismiss girls' concerns about teasing, gossip and name calling-they take it very seriously. Laura Bayard

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