Monday, 9 September 2013

Why do we wait for the horse to bolt before we lock the gate

As I reflect on yet another successful delivery of the life skills course, I find myself once again asking the question, why do so many parents wait for something traumatic to happen before they are forced to educate their children in the skills required to keep them safe?

Nearly 40 minutes of today’s two hour session was dedicated to an 11 year old boy who has been the victim to a series of bullying incidents that could so easily have been prevented. His parents were outraged at the lack of support they received from their sons school prior the summer holidays and yet they were unintentionally adding fuel to the situation by creating additional trauma to the young boy.

Most of us are guilty of waiting for the final payment letter to drop through the letterbox before we react, or leave it to the final minute before making our way to a meeting that we really do not want to attend. There has to be a point where we say to ourselves, this is too important to just leave and hope it goes away.

Over a 25 year career I have witnessed thousands of examples of people who have just left it to late and have unfortunately paid the consequences.

Women I have worked with in refuges who for numerous reasons have found it difficult to leave their violent partners only to feel the full force of their anger.

Men who work in a dangerous industry and yet have a belief system that nothing BAD is every going to happen to them until their lives are put in danger.

Parents who think there children will stroll through life without ever facing hurdles such as bullying until the child breaks their silence through a social network site or conversation with a friend.

Despite the sometimes horrific stories we hear via the news or depicted in movies, we all to often programme ourselves to say it will never happen to us. When it does, we spend the next few weeks and months asking WHY?

In many ways the most difficult part of my job over the years has been to let people who have become victims to violence, know that the trauma they have experienced could have been reduced and in many cases completely avoided.

Of course this trauma often leads to a number of long term negative personality traits such as low confidence, self-esteem, poor communication skills and mindset, so waiting for something to happen before we react, can and often does devastate lives.

I have a number of friends within the personal safety industry across the world who regularly tell me stories of people that have attended their classes after a violent episode in the lives. Teaching these individuals some practical and simple safety skills becomes a much larger task when you are faced with a series of psychological hurdles.

For me, this demonstrates that this issues of waiting until the horse has bolted before locking the gate is not restricted to a demographic location, nor is it restricted to a specific culture, religion and skin colour.

Human beings everywhere have and continue to programme their brains to assume nothing will happen to either themselves or their children.

The cost of rehabilitating victims of violence in this country alone runs into billions of pounds, and it is only going to get worse as we spend more time indulging in technology that on one had reduces the opportunities for us to socially interact with others and on the other hand encourages us through games to kill each other and live out our violent fantasies in the comfort of our bedrooms.

Whilst in the process of networking locally, I was amazed at the number of support groups that had been set up in Milton Keynes to provide guidance to people after an incident had occurred.

Some of these groups provide a fantastic service, however it seems to me many of these groups are fueling this silly thought process of waiting to late by presenting an image to potential clients that they will be there to mop up the pieces when it goes wrong.

Every course I have written and deployed has been about preventative measures training. Educating people in the skills to assess and avoid a potentially dangerous situation before it happens makes so much sense. I realise that this is not always possible, but by providing people with a set of skills to prepare them to reduce the amount of physical damage they might endure will in turn reduce the amount of trauma they suffer.

The long term benefits of having a society driven by preventative measures initiatives instead of trauma mop us services, will save the tax payer millions of pounds and more importantly will result in a faster rehabilitation process for those still unfortunate enough to experience some level of confrontation.

The Young People are our Future charity provides young people and their families with a preventative measures life skills course.

Show your support for providing people with the right skills before it is too late by liking the charities face book page. 

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Article written by Gary Payne