Responding to Threats: Level One

In the first part of our series about Responding to Threats we looked at our Legal Rights. If you haven’t read that yet, please click here to read it before reading about the first level of responding. It’s important that we understand the legal aspects of self defense before facing a real threat and wondering what we have a right to do.

In the second part of our series we looked at the Sequential Uses of Force. This is where we respond to threats based on the force threat we face.

We move now to Threat and Response Level One.

Threat and Response Level One

Threat Level One is a low-level visual or verbal threat (e.g. stranger inviting child to come with them, name calling, verbal bullying).

Response Level One should be reasonable in light of the threat. What do you think is a reasonable response to a stranger calling a child to come with him, being called a name, insulted or verbally bullied?

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Our recommendation is to walk away, if you can. If it’s a stranger asking you to come to them or with them, walk away quickly in the opposite direction. Go to a safe place. It might be a friend’s home, a store where you can talk with a clerk or manager, a school where you can talk with a teacher, etc. Identify safe places as you move about your day and know how to get to them quickly if a stranger approaches you.

What if it’s a bullying situation? As much as you might want to respond verbally, we recommend against that. Ignore the bully as much as you can. If you respond by calling the other person a name or insulting them, at least three things could come from it:

  1. The threat escalates from verbal to physical and you find yourself in an altercation where one or both of you get hurt.
  2. The person you respond to may tell others what you said and blame you for the argument.
  3. Even if your response doesn’t lead to a fight or blame, you have allowed another person to cause you to act in a manner that is not the Christian example you want to live before others.

It’s best to walk away from low-level verbal threats. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t tell someone about it. If a stranger asks you to go with him or her, walk away and tell an adult (e.g. parent, teacher). If someone bullies you verbally, walk away and tell an adult (e.g. parent, teacher). You don’t have to deal with these problems alone. First, protect yourself and your friends by moving away from the stranger or bully. Second, let a trusted adult know about it so they can determine the best next-step to take.

Here is a video about how children can deal with a stranger in their neighborhood . Since the stranger does not physically approach the children, the response level is still Level One.

We’ll look at how to respond to a stranger physically approaching a child in our next article.

Relationship Bullying

Bullying can also be non-verbal and just as painful (sometimes even more painful) –

  • Refusing to Talk to Someone
  • Spreading Lies and Rumors About Someone
  • Making Someone Feel Left Out or Rejected

If you are a parent and sense that your child may be facing some type of relationship bullying, remember that it can feel as bad as someone verbally abusing them. Help your child know they have great worth to God, you, other family members and friends.

If you are a teacher, pastor or other adult who believes a child is being bullied verbally or through relationships, talk with the child based on what is appropriate for your involvement in their life and consider sharing your concerns with the child’s parents.

Next Time

We will look at Threat Level and Response Level Two in the next part of our special series.

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