Koenig Murder Raises Questions About How to Protect Teenagers
Professionals say talking to children about safety is vital
ANCHORAGE - The murder of Samantha Koenig has raised many questions, including an important one for parents: What can we do to help keep our children safe, especially our teenagers who often believe that nothing bad can ever happen to them?
Anchorage family therapist Susan La Grande said the murder has raised issues parents may want to discuss, particularly with their teenaged daughters. She said the best place to raise those difficult topics is somewhere neutral like the dinner table or family car.
“[You might say], ‘You know we've heard now in the news that this girl's body has been found,’” said La Grande. “That way you are kind of opening up the subject matter ever so gently. See if your daughter or your son or anyone at the table starts to bring the conversation up so there's a natural conversation. Then, I think the most important thing for parents to talk to their daughters about is how vulnerable this makes us all feel.”
The idea, she said, is not to frighten, but to listen to fears that teens may have and talk about ways to stay safe.
Anchorage Police Crime Prevention Specialist Anita Shell has some specific safety tips that conversation could cover. One of them is simply keeping car doors locked. Shell said teen drivers don’t often think about personal safety inside their vehicle, but they should.
“One of the safest things you can do in your car is keep your doors locked when you are inside. When you are at a stop light or a stop sign if those doors are unlocked it's a very easy target for somebody to jump in your car and say ‘drive!’,” said Shell.
And while daughters in particular may be hesitant to share information about whom they are dating or spending time with, someone needs to know.
“Daughters need to tell their family or a friend who that person is. What is their name? Where do they work or where do they attend school? If any criminal activity happens that may be a person of interest and the more information that police have to go on the better.”
And, in a worst case scenario if someone becomes a victim of an abduction, Shell said do whatever it takes to get away, even if they have a weapon.
“Whether it's trying to break free of your captor or trying to reason with your captor, don’t be afraid to use force to get away, because whatever you do to that person pales in comparison to what they have planned for you.”
It’s chilling advice that could save you or your child’s life.