Little did Steve Daley know when he was a police officer that several years later he would be arming thousands of kids with the tools they need to stay safe through a program called radKIDS (Resisting Aggression Defensively).
During his 21 years in law enforcement Daley held positions ranging from Patrolman to Chief of Police.
“My first passion was in keeping police officers alive,” he says. But, he adds he had another goal, “to stop crime before it happened.”
Then, one night that all changed for Daley.
“I was a young police officer in Florida, I was working the midnight shift, and I got a call to respond to a house where the mother was screaming that someone had hurt her daughter, and so I responded to the house with my goal of going to fix it all, and when I got there the mother was screaming, and I still didn’t know what was going on, but she said, ‘My daughter, my daughter!’
“My partner showed up, and since I was first, I said, ‘You deal with the mom,’ I’m going to go find where this little girl is.
“I still didn’t know what the call was, so very slowing I went through the house to see if I could find anything, and as I got into the living room, I looked down the hallway.
“It was dark, and I could see a small figure at the end of the hall, which appeared to be a little girl, but I couldn’t really see her. There were no lights on. And I remembered that they told me when you’re talking to children, you want to lower your voice and you want to not be so drastic in your movements, so you don’t scare them. So I actually saw that it was a child and started down the hall.
“I was calling out, ‘Hello, I’m a police officer, I’m a police officer,’ and as I got a couple of steps down the hall, there was a flash of light. I don’t know if it was the moon or what, but I could see that it was a little girl, and the front of her shirt was wet, but I couldn’t really make anything else out of that.
“Again, I didn’t put my flashlight on, because I didn’t want to scare her, so as I walked a little further I realized that it wasn’t just wet, she was covered in blood and she just looked at me. She wasn’t crying. She just looked at me, and in her hand was a teddy bear, so all I had was this silhouette, and as I got closer, I had this little face looking at me, covered in blood and not crying. So, I got down on my knee, and I said, “Are you okay?,” trying to start a conversation. And I’ll never forget… the girl turned out to be six-years-old, and she looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Where were you?’ And I looked right at her, and in those days I was a young police officer, and I said, ‘On patrol,’ like that was an answer. But she didn’t even blink. She just looked at me and said, ‘You’re supposed to protect me, and mommy’s boyfriend hurt me.’
“Later I found out what happened is the mommy’s boyfriend had left her. At about 2 o’clock in the morning she woke up and couldn’t find her boyfriend, and when she went looking for him, she found this person raping her child. She screamed and the coward ran into the woods, and we eventually caught him.
“So that was the night I learned that I could not stop everything at all, and that there had to be a better way to do things.
“When we closed the crime scene, and we walked away and on the side of the cruiser it said, ‘Protect and Serve,’ and I realized that that was our wish, but it was very hard and it took me a long time to figure out, train police officers first, but the best way to help people is teach them how to help themselves in the world that they live in, instead of the world that they want to live in.
“And so that’s how radKIDS started.”
Daley sums up radKIDS in one sentence.
“The cool part about radKIDS is radKIDS, to a kid, is a cool kid that doesn’t want anybody to hurt them.”
But radKIDS involves a lot more.
“We teach children to recognize, avoid, resist, and if necessary, escape violence, and the if necessary part is the physical part of our program.”
“So, we actually try to break the cycle of violence and victimization in children’s lives, and we build it on a core foundation of self-value and self-worth and resiliency and the activity-based curriculum, based on accelerated learning principles.
There’s nothing else like what radKIDS does.
“I’m trying to stop victimization in children’s lives,” he adds.
Daley assumed the responsibilities and duties of the first Executive Director of radKIDS®, Inc. after working in the field of law enforcement for over 20 years. He retired in 1999 to assume leadership of the radKIDS Awareness and Defense System, a basic self-defense program, which he helped develop while working with RAD Systems of Self Defense.
Daley says that radKIDS is based on the foundation of psychological development, or Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy, along with physical skills and training the brain at an instinctive level to respond to danger.
“Children without training, who are attacked or grabbed yell, ‘Help me, help me,’ and what they’re saying inside their mind is: ‘Someone save me!’ The radKIDS mindset after their training is: ‘How dare you touch me!’ That empowerment changes the whole context of an encounter, putting the power in the child’s hands instead of the predator.
“When you’re in danger everybody goes through a process that has been essentially labeled as ‘Fight or Flight. And when you’re startled and get into something, a response of ‘Fight or Flight’ occurs, but in saying that, most people don’t fight or flee, they actually freeze,” he says.
“What we in radKIDS actually do is train the kids through activity-based education to get the cognitive brain and the instinctive brain to work together in danger, so that they’re not in conflict and they don’t stall, and so that the child has a better opportunity to escape when surprised.”
radKIDS is based on three life-skill principles:
- NO ONE has the right to hurt them because they are SPECIAL.
- radKIDS don’t have the right to hurt anyone else (including themselves) unless someone is trying to hurt them, and then they have every right to STOP THEM.
- If anyone has ever hurt them or tries to hurt them or make them feel bad inside or out, IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT and since it is not their fault, THEY CAN TELL and KEEP TELLING until someone helps them.
“We empower the child so they’re able to recognize, avoid, resist and get away from that threat and establish their own boundaries so that if the person hurting them is within their social circle, they still have an opportunity to deal with it, because it’s not the boogey man coming down the street; it’s people in their area.
“So we teach them how to recognize anything that’s a danger to them and how to respond immediately to that with an escape plan because it’s not their job to fix it either,” Daley says.
“The problem is we make our behaviors based on our experiences, and so in radKIDs we actually don’t tell kids what to do; we teach and train them to be able to do it.
“For example, in an escape route, we teach the kids to go from danger to safety. They identify danger, while safety is a safe zone. We teach them a concept, ‘always go to safety.’
They start the program at the kindergarten level and go through sixth grade.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Daley says that kids are bullying at a much younger age these days and that’s why they’ve also developed a preschool model.
“Because the little rug rats can actually do extremely well.
“It’s not physical as much as it is developmental, so there are boundaries, but children today in preschool are bullying with predisposition. When I was a kid you just hit somebody, and then they’d teach you not to do that. Now, a three-year-old will look at another three-year-old and go, ‘You’re not coming to my party.’
“radKIDs learn there are two types of people in the world… good and bad, and we judge that based on how they treat us–not on what they look like–but their actions, and the brain theory says that you can recognize that as young as three-and-a-half.
” If we don’t break that cycle, what are they gonna be like by fourth or fifth grade, let alone high school?”
“The number one victimization for kids today in this country is bullying. And we make them go to school, so the least we can do is make the school safe,” he says.
“Because once you know, for example, how to stop a bully, then there’s really not a bully there any longer. There’s still a problem, but you know how to deal with it.
Daley says once kids have been through the radKIDS program they’ve found they have better attendance, and there’s considerably less bullying when every kid’s a radKID.
“Through the eyes of the children we’re changing culture and climate in the schools to make them safer learning environments,” he says.
Currently, they’re building models in Texas school districts to share with other school districts. They are in: San Angelo, Victoria, Laredo Independent School District, United Independent School District, San Antonio ISD and Harlendale ISD.
“In Laredo alone we have a radKIDS Community with more than 250 instructors in every elementary school, private school and faith-based school. We have built four (4) Zero Victimization Schools and are adding two (2) more in Laredo.
Daley says they’re also creating the first Zero Victimization School District this year in Pickens County, South Carolina.
Daley explains the difference between a Zero Tolerance School and a Zero Victimization School.
Zero Tolerance School – A school where the administration and educators’ policy is: “WE DON’T ALLOW ANYONE TO GET HURT HERE.” Daley says, “The kids’ understanding is that if we defend ourselves, then we will get punished. This system has proven to be an epic failure in bullying prevention and overall school safety.
Zero Victimization School – A school where NO ONE GETS HURT HERE. In this type of school the children are empowered, educated and trained to defend themselves if someone tries to hurt them, thus creating a consistent school culture and a safer and balanced school climate. It unifies the definitions, expectation and the school culture.
“I’ve even gotten evaluations from children in one district in Texas that’s a little rough that say, ‘The only reason I go to school is because of radKIDS.’
Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted in 2002 at the age of 14, is a National Spokesperson for radKIDS. Her foundation, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation partners with radKIDS. Ed Smart, Elizabeth’s father, has served on the radKIDS Board of Directors for more than ten (10) years.
Daley says he believes education is the only thing that can transfer instinctual response from fear to power.
“All I want to do is take what we have developed and nurtured as the foundation and give it to as many people as possible to break the cycle of violence.”
They’re currently working on a program for middle school kids.
He says that it’s about building relationships.
“We don’t do 30-minute drive by; we actually build a relationship with the kids; our curriculum is an eight-hour developmental curriculum with an expected outcome, so it’s not a program, it’s a development process just like any other education curriculum with an expected outcome.
“So, if you can keep the kids involved, imagine taking fifth and sixth graders down to kindergarten and first grade as your leaders.”
Daley says he’s looking for a cure for the problem.
“I really do want something simple, but the truth is our world is not that simple; it’s a little more complicated. And, our children need to be able to recognize ‘avoid’ and ‘resist’ and what children have taught me over the last ten years is that they know that there’s… I mean they watch the news… they know there’s bad things. What they want to know is how do I deal with them; what do I do with them?
“I’m looking for the answer… I’m looking for the cure… we’re not done yet. What we’ve got is the strongest ability to break the cycle of violence in kids’ lives by building a foundation of their own personal boundaries. We have the tools, the skills and the kit right here for that to be done, but we need your heart to deliver it. We’ll show you how to deliver it and then you make the difference.”
Daley has a five-year plan.
“The next 5 years I need to get this to as many people as possible so that it… because it does work… it’s having a positive effect, and who knows what the next person is going to bring to make it better.”
“I don’t know what the future’s gonna be, but I do know that this educational model is adaptable to our world, but I really hope that it gets out to enough children to truly change…because if you really think about those three principles, those are three radKIDS principles… those are three principles that everyone should have.
“Our goal now is to put it in the schools, because it’s where it should be taught anyway. It’s the center hub of the whole community and for the kids… it’s their world… and so it’s the best place to go do it and then it doesn’t become a cost issue at all because it actually meets the curriculum requirements in health and PE.
“Because you’re training people who care… like when I was a police officer I wanted to be there before the crime and catch the bad guy, and teachers and professional… educators really want to see the light go on in the kid’s head.
“We can actually empower our children to be the future and to take care of themselves, in this world today, but if we don’t give them that power, we’re only empowering the predator.
“The number one evaluation from parents and grandparents from seeing radKIDS being delivered, not when they came in, but when they see the end result–when their child or grandchild goes through the program–is, ‘Why is this not in every school?’ and so that’s what keeps me going and keeps all of our instructors going.”
When Daley asks, “What’s a child worth?” He’s quick to respond, “Priceless.”
Daley shares a success story about a young girl named “Candy.”
As nine-year-old Candy got off the school bus, a man ran up and grabbed her just a few feet from her front door. Attacked by a man twice her size, Candy, a fourth grader, knew exactly what to do and she lived to tell about it.
“He grabbed my arms, so I did my radKIDS. I elbowed him in the head and I ran home,” she said.
Daley says, “I met her the day she escaped from the abduction of the ex-Marine [who was] 6’ 1″. She was nine, and she got away from him, and he physically grabbed her. I was in town that day. I went to see her, and I expected, as a former police officer, to see a victim. But when I met the little girl, and I said, ‘How are you? I mean are you okay?’ Candy looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, he should have picked somebody else, don’t you think?’
“And that’s why I do what I do.”
- radKIDS have been endorsed by the National Sheriff’s Organization for about 12 years.
- More than 300,000 children have been trained in the radKIDS Personal Empowerment Safety Education program.
- 5000 community-based instructors have been trained in over 46 states and in Canada, England, Guam and the Philippines, and the program has been translated into the Chinese language.
- More than 147 children threatened with abduction have used their skills and returned safely to their families.
- More than 7,500 sexually assaulted and abused children have spoken up and gotten the help they needed to stop the abuse and thousands more have escaped bullying and peer-to-peer violence.
- One (1) out of every three (3) girls/women and one (1) out of every six (6) boys/men will be sexually assaulted.
- One (1) out of every three (3) sexual assaults reported to law enforcement are children under the age of twelve (12) and one (1) out of every six (6) of those are under the age of seven (7).
- Fifty-nine percent (59%) of sexual assaults of children are by family members, thirty-seven percent (37%) of the time they’re someone the child knows, and only four percent (4%) of the time they’re strangers.
- According to law enforcement reports, approximately 58,000 children are kidnapped or abducted by strangers annually.
- About 204,000 children are abducted by family members annually.
- More than 700,000 children annually go missing in this country; that’s about 2,148 a day.
- There are more than 1 million children listed as long-term missing by law enforcement.
radKIDS ABC’S of Child Victimization:
• An estimated 797,500 children are reported missing each year. In 40 percent of stereotypical kidnapping cases, the child was killed.
• Last year 10,000 children stayed home from school at least once a month fearing bullies and half the children surveyed were bullied weekly.
Child Abuse and Neglect
• 896,000 children were determined to be victims of child abuse and neglect. That is one child every 35 SECONDS.
• There is one sex offender for every square mile in the United States. A typical molester will abuse between 30 to 60 children.
To make a donation, to get involved or learn more about their program, visit their website at: www.radKIDS.org
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What is radKIDS?
radKIDS is an organization of adults that want to help make sure ALL children are safe. The people who are part of radKIDS® are working every day to see to it that every child in every community and town learns how to protect themselves. There could even be a radKIDS program already in your town!! radKIDS® programs are all across America and Canada. You might want to ask an adult to help you find out where the closest one to you is.
What does radKIDS teach?
radKIDS teaches you all kinds of cool things, like what you can do to be safe from fires, or how to be safe when you’re out shopping, even what to do if a strange dog scares you, and How to “STOP” a bully. radKIDS teaches *lots* of cool stuff!
Who are radKIDS?
radKIDS are cool kids that never let anyone hurt them. radKIDS know that they are special and absolutely worth protecting. radKIDS know that you can’t have somebody with you all the time to protect you, so the best way for you to be safe is to be able to protect yourself!
What do radKIDS do?
radKIDS always have a radKIDS plan for situations that may put them in danger! They know what to do and how to get help fast. They know how to protect themselves.
What are the radKIDS Foundational Principles that all radKIDS know?
All radKIDS know three important rules.
The radKIDS rules are:
- NO ONE has the right to hurt them (5‐105 years old) NO ONE because they are SPECIAL.
- radKIDS don’t have the right to hurt anyone else (including themselves) Unless someone is trying to hurt them and then they have every right to STOP THEM. (In radKIDS we teach all kids how to physically resist‐stop and escape‐ violence).
- If anyone has ever hurt you or tries to hurt you or make you feel bad inside or out, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT and since it is not your fault YOU CAN TELL and keep telling until someone helps you.
Stephen M. Daley’s Bio:
Stephen M. Daley assumed the responsibilities and duties of the first Executive Director of radKIDS®, Inc. after working in the field of law enforcement for over 20 years. Steve retired in 1999 to assume leadership of the radKIDS Awareness and Defense System, a basic self-defense program, which he helped develop while working with RAD Systems of Self Defense.
His involvement in the radKIDS® foundational research and development committee convinced him that the radKIDS® approach to empowering children had the potential to make a difference in thousands of children’s lives.
Steve’s diverse educational background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bryant College as well as a Masters Degree in Education from Cambridge College. Steve’s Masters Degree in Education includes specialized concentrations in Elementary Education, Brain Theory and Development, and Accelerated Learning Theories and methodologies.
Steve continues to promote radKIDS® as a national recognized speaker and expert in children’s safety and has appeared on the Americas Most Wanted television show, CBS Early Show, CNN, HLN, and many other local and national media outlets, to promote radKIDS®.
Today, Steve continues to promote the radKIDS® program from radKIDS® headquarters located in South Dennis, MA. He teaches the radKIDS® Personal Empowerment Safety Education program and travels extensively across the country empowering communities with their own radKIDS® programs.