Across the United States, Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations are taking place. It’s an important time to tune in, speak out, and acknowledge what’s going on in the world around us.
More than anything, it’s definitely a time for learning — that goes for adults and kids alike. For many of us, just sitting home and watching the news on TV doesn’t feel like enough. Some people would prefer to get out and join the protests. But when you have kids, you’re likely even more concerned about protesting safely.
There are plenty of beautiful peaceful events happening. Still, bringing kids along adds some unknown variables. While it might be one thing to walk with protesters on your own, bringing kids can make the experience a bit more stressful.
But if there was ever a time to get involved in a movement that impacts so many people, now is definitely the time, and even if you have kids, you should feel empowered to take action if you wish to do so.
Kids are definitely interested in what’s happening, too, which is wonderful because they are our future leaders, and they should be in touch with the issue on just about everyone’s mind — racial justice. So if you feel the need to get involved, great! Just make sure you take some extra precautions.
Here are a few tips for keeping kids safe while attending Black Lives Matter demonstrations:
1. Discuss the importance of staying together.
It’s important that kids understand that during a protest or a planned demonstration of any kind, sticking together is an absolute must when it comes to staying safe. It’s not the time for wandering off, and that should be made clear beforehand. Extra precautions should be taken with kids who are known to wander, too. But either way, make sure you to address how important it is to move as a group.
2. Bring water and phone chargers.
When protesting during the warmer months, bringing water is a must — especially when kids are coming along. Just walking a few blocks in the heat can feel very draining. If kids are big enough to carry their own backpacks, then everyone can bring their own water to make sure there is plenty to go around.
Another must-have is a charged cellphone. If the kids are old enough to have their own, even better. In the case that you can’t find one another, no one will panic if everyone has a phone.
3. Keep to the outskirts.
If you’re heading to an event that you expect to be very crowded, when you have kids coming along, it’s a good idea to stick to the outskirts. You can still get the full experience of attending the event, making your voice heard, and letting kids embrace their surroundings while not placing yourself right in the center of the action. Sticking to the outskirts means that there is more space to move around and room to sit down and take a break. It also makes it a whole lot easier to stick together.
4. Write phone numbers on your kids' arms.
It’s a simple little hack, but one that will go a long way to ease parents’ minds when taking kids to demonstrations — writing your phone number on your kid’s arm. That way, you’ll know that even in the case that your child wanders away from you, someone with a cellphone can easily contact you. This hack could be helpful even with kids who are old enough to know their phone number or have their own phone. In case of an emergency, you won’t regret writing your number where a helpful bystander can see it.
5. Choose which events you go to wisely.
There are many incredible demonstrations taking place, many of which are very peaceful. Of course, even protests with the best intentions can go off course. Sometimes, things escalate and turn violent. However, making sure you’re picking an event where the risks of that happening are lower is a great idea. In many areas, there are even planned protests that are aimed at families.
6. Maximize comfort.
In order to keep your kids safe and comfortable, it’s a good idea to wear shoes that are easy to walk in. Avoid flip-flops or anything with open toes. Wearing shoes that are easy to move in will not only make it easier for kids to walk without tripping and stay comfortable but also mean fewer complaints! Also, make sure to bring sunscreen, hats, or whatever clothing is weather-appropriate.
7. Don't overdo it.
One of the most important things to remember when taking kids to demonstrations is not to overdo it. It’s wonderful to have the desire to get involved. But remember, you have to think about the safety of your family first. Yes — that is why you’re protesting in the first place, right? To help ensure that everyone has the right to feel safe. But showing up and being a part of that — while teaching your kids about racial justice — is huge.
Take it easy, especially on your first couple of go-rounds. That will likely make protesting a more positive experience for kids. Hopefully, that will have them ready and willing to go to another demonstration with you in the future.