Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Stranger danger

Steinkes teach Ten Sleep students about summer safety and strangers


April 18, 2018

TEN SLEEP – Friday morning, Kurt and Alanna Steinke spoke to the Ten Sleep School students about summer safety and stranger danger during an all-school assembly.

Kurt Steinke explained that he started doing the summer safety and stranger danger program in Missoula, Montana, in 2002 and has been working on perfecting the program ever since. He stated that he utilizes his master’s degree in homeland security, Montana law enforcement training and his 27 years of martial arts experience to teach children of all ages about being safe. He also uses a true story about how someone attempted to lure his mother, when she was a child, into their vehicle as a way to emphasis that bad things can happen, even in a small town.

“I give them anecdotal information such as my mother was; this is a true story about my mother, who had to walk to the one-room school house when she was little. On her walk one day, a man tried to pick her up and take her away and said that her parents told him that it was OK for him to pick her up and she just continued walking towards school, refused to look at him and talk to him, and just kept on. She got home that night and found out that they had no idea who this person was and that she may never have gotten home. The kids really get impacted by that story and it kind of wakes them up to the idea that yeah there are some dangerous things, even in small towns. My mother was just in the middle of the countryside, no town,” Steinke said.

Ten Sleep School Superintendent Jimmy Phelps stated that he was impressed with the program and was thrilled to be able to help protect the students not only at school but also when they are away from the school.

During the assembly students listened to the Steinke’s speak and also learned the basic techniques needed to break free if someone grabs them and how to punch and kick effectively. They also learned that they not only need to know their parents’ names, home address and home phone number but also their parents cell phone numbers in the event that they need to report a situation to the police.

“Basically what we do is talk to kids about how to stay safe and what to do if they are confronted with a threatening situation, something that they are not comfortable with, a person they don’t know. This one was rather brief because we had about 100 kids and only 45 minutes. Generally the program is a little bit of physical technique, like how to basically escape from a grab, if someone grabs ahold, how to punch and kick effectively if you need to but then it’s also who to talk to and what information to give them, in other words if you do find a police officer to help, what information do you need to know,” Steinke said.

Steinke also explained to the students the difference between a stranger and a threatening situation; that not all strangers are out to hurt you. “We talked about how you cannot identify a threat by what they look like and how you must identify a threat by what they say and do. A stranger is someone that you don’t know, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad people. A threatening situation is based on what the person says and does, rather than what they look like. We spent some time on that. I said maybe a threat looks like me, maybe they look like your teacher, we can’t say what a threat looks like, it’s not always somebody with a scar and a blind eye that lives in a van down by the river. That’s not truth, you have to get past what they look like and get to what they are saying to you and what they are doing to you and then you identify the threat,” Steinke said.

The students were also taught the difference between fighting and self-defense. Stein explained that while he does teach martial arts, he does not advocate fighting. “We talked about fighting versus self-defense. This is something that is very important in the program. I make sure that I say from the very beginning before we even take their shoes off, I say, I don’t teach people to fight, fighting is trying to hurt someone. Self-defense is trying not to get hurt. I have them repeat that back to me. I tell them that yes you may punch, you may kick, you may scream and yell and everything but only for self-defense, if you need to save yourself and get away.”

Screaming when someone is attempting to abduct you is an important part of defending yourself, but Steinke advised the students to scream something different than expected. “We talked about what to yell, I talk about the fact that bad kids, kids who are poorly behaved, they yell no to their parents. I said no doesn’t always work. If I see a child in a parking lot yelling no to an adult who is trying to put them in a car, I might think that you are an obstinate child. You need to yell help, because help is what you want and I said the only time I ever tell kids that it is OK to lie is that you may also yell fire if your life is in danger, because people look for a fire. They may ignore you if you are yelling no but they won’t ignore the word fire, they will actually turn to look to see where the fire is. So I tell them to yell help and fire rather than no.”

While all the information discussed is good for people of all ages, Steinke addressed some issues that could come up for the older students. He explained that if the older students were going to go out for a jog, walk, exercising or biking that they need to make sure someone knows where they are going, when they are going and when they plan on returning. He explained that people should use the buddy system and if they don’t have a buddy that can go with them they need to at least make sure they have their cell phone with them in case they need to make an emergency call.

The assembly went very well with students practicing their “karate kicks” over the weekend and explaining to their parents what they learned. Steinke was impressed with how excited and respectful the students were. Steinke said. “The kids really had a ball and Ten Sleep kids are special because they really are attentive and quiet and they pay attention and yet, it’s not that they aren’t having fun, they are not subdued, they are just respectful kids and I’ve taught this in four states and these are the most respectful kids I have ever had and I think that they are to be commended on that,” he added.

The Steinkes are opening a martial arts studio in Worland with classes for all ages 4 and up, with a grand opening scheduled for early fall.


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