Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? I’ve discovered such a service right here in Georgia. It’s a nonprofit foundation called Keep Georgia Safe.
Attorney Gary Martin Hays created Keep Georgia Safe years ago after watching stories on the news about three young Georgia women who were abducted and harmed in a short period of time. Gary, the son of a Methodist minister, tells me he was taught from an early age not to sit around and lament, but as his dad would say “get off the couch and do something.” Gary did just that by creating Keep Georgia Safe.
I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of seeing the efforts of this organization first hand. A few days ago, I met and interviewed Elizabeth Smart and her father, Ed. Who could forget Elizabeth’s chilling story? She was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, by a drifting handyman who had done work for the Smarts on a previous occasion.
Elizabeth spent more than nine months as his captive, enduring unspeakable emotional and physical abuse. I was in Albany in June 2002 covering the infamous murder trial of former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey. Every night after court, I’d return to my hotel room to watch Ed Smart appear on TV and ask for the assistance of the public to recover his precious daughter. Americans were glued to their screens, and we all rejoiced when Elizabeth was miraculously found alive just 18 miles from her home.
How would you or I react to such horror? I’m afraid to imagine. I do know what Elizabeth and her family did. They did what Gary Martin Hays’ dad taught Gary to do. They got off the couch and did something by creating the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. Much like Keep Georgia Safe, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation teaches children to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to recognizing predators, abuse and uncomfortable situations.
The two groups are also successfully promoting radKIDS (Resist Aggression Defensively). radKIDS has graduated more than 150,000 kids and certified more than 3,000 instructors nationwide. The tangible result? More than 50 kids have been documented as escaping abduction situations and more than 1,100 have reported escaping apparent sexual assault incidents. These programs are making a huge difference, protecting children in dozens of communities.
Keep Georgia Safe provides free expert training for our children in a number of Georgia’s private schools. It has been a huge success, giving children the resources to recognize everything from cyber-abuse to reporting suspicious people and behavior. You might find it hard to believe, but Gary tells me he’s had much less success introducing this free training in Georgia’s public school environment.
Our government schools have apparently become slaves to bureaucracy at the expense of their core mission: teaching children how to survive and succeed in society. I encourage you to call your local school board members and ask if they’ve embraced this totally free opportunity. If they say they’re unfamiliar, send them to the website www.KeepGeorgiaSafe.com.
Help Gary and Elizabeth “Get Smart” in our schools. It could make the difference between life and death for a child you love. We would love to hear from you so visit www.TrustDale.com and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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