When our children are little we teach them about stranger danger and arm them with information like their home address and parents’ cell phone numbers. We do our best to keep them safe and give lessons on calling 911 in case of an emergency. But what happens when your child is older? As they begin to navigate their world online, the doors are open to a whole new set of emergencies that your child needs to be aware of. Just ask 13-year-old Caden Cotnoir from New Hampshire.
It was a normal afternoon scrolling Tik Tok, when Cotnoir came across the live feed of a boy that he regularly follows. Eight hundred miles away in West Virginia, Trent Jarrett was out for a ride. Cotnoir and Jarrett share a mutual love of hunting, fishing and four wheeling.
Mere seconds into the livestream, Cotnoir realized something was wrong.
“All of a sudden his phone goes kind of blank, you can see a little bit of light and you can just hear him yelling for help,” Cotnoir said in an interview with WMUR-TV.
Jarret’s all-terrain vehicle had crashed and pinned him underneath. According to WMRU, Jarret began calling out his grandparents’ phone number, as it was the only one that he could remember. This is when Cotnoir jumped into action. He contacted the grandparents and within 20 minutes, Jarret’s parents were able to locate him and remove the ATV. He sustained only minor cuts and bruises.
“Caden reacted and notified adults, just like he has been told for years. His first thing was to tell us that he thinks this boy crashed his ATV and he tried to call him. When he couldn’t reach him he knew something was wrong, and this was real,” Cotnoir’s stepfather Gilmanton, NH Police Chief Matt Currier told Scary Mommy.
“His mother and I are super proud of him, and how he acted and stayed calm,” he added.
But this isn’t the first time a teen has saved a life thousands of miles away. In 2020, a Texas gamer saved the life of a friend in England. A young woman made an emergency call with her friend’s address after he had a seizure and became unresponsive during their game. This type of bravery and intuition is what we hope that our children will have.
We have read heartbreaking stories of kids accidentally killing themselves or gravely injuring themselves while live streaming. It’s a tragedy that parents need to prepare their children for and make sure that they are armed with the proper tools to deal with an emergency. TeensHealth offers a few tips.
As with any emergency it is important to remain as calm as you possibly can. This can be tough, especially if you are scared. But staying calm can aid in quick, smart decisions.
Assess The Situation
Can the person communicate? Can they tell you how to get in touch with a trusted adult or emergency personnel? Do you have any information about where they are located and how to send help?
Try To Act Quickly
If you know how to get in touch with the person’s parents or other trusted person, do so as soon as possible. If you cannot, call 911. But remember, calling emergency services isn’t a joke and should be taken very seriously.
Gather As Many Details As Possible
If contacting a 911 operator, they’re going to want to know who, what, where, when. If it is a physical injury, overdose, fire, etc., try your hardest to provide as many details as you can. This will help the dispatcher to get the best help to you as quickly as possible.
Get Help From A Trusted Adult
Once you are able to communicate with 911 or someone who is at the scene, it is important to find a trusted adult close to you to share with and receive support from during the scary time.
Kids today are spending a lot of time on social media and online. In a 2019 report, CNN said that kids are spending on average seven hours a day on a screen. That is not including school work. Imagine how that has changed during a pandemic? And what they are seeing isn’t always positive. We hope that our children are hanging out with friends, and doing things safely. But that is not always the case.
Things are getting scary. In January 2021, WWL reported that four Louisiana girls, aged 12, two 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old, were charged with murder after stealing knives from a Walmart and fatally stabbing a 15-year-old girl and posting it to social media. According to WWL, “the video contains graphic images, but due to the fact that minors appeared in the video Calcasieu Parish spokesperson Kayla Vincent would not expound upon what exactly appeared online and where it was broadcast.” The fact that these girls committed such a heinous and violent crime and promoted it on social media is terrifying.
What would your child do? Better yet, what would you do? Sometimes, people do nothing. This is called the Bystander Effect. According to Psychology Today, “The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation, against a bully, or during an assault or other crime. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is for any one of them to provide help to a person in distress. People are more likely to take action in a crisis when there are few or no other witnesses present.”
This is where proactive parenting comes into play. We need to teach our children to be doers and not bystanders. Even if 10 people call 911 in an emergency, it is never too many. The quicker you react and get help, the more hope there is for a positive outcome. This is in person, or online. It isn’t always about being a hero, it’s about being a helper to someone in need. If we can teach our children the importance of staying calm and acting quickly, they will continue this throughout their lives and become fast-thinking adults.