You might as well be arguing with your dog – reacting correctly in a crisis...
A sleepy, uneventful night like most nights is the norm in a small, rural Texas town. But this night's events flipped the town inside out. Step into a little four-year-old girl's shoes for just a moment. Late at night, your mommy's enraged ex-boyfriend breaks in, binds and gags you and your older brother, sticks you in a closet and yells, "Don't come out." Beyond your dark cell, violence escalates. Fight or flight response sets in, your body begins shutting down the many sources of information that you normally rely on. In such situations, most of us become useless. Is this inevitable? In this instance, this little girl reacts correctly, better than most adults. Read on...
"After 145 (heartbeats per minute)," Dave Grossman, a former army lieutenant colonel and the author of On Killing, "bad things begin to happen. Complex motor skills start to break down. Doing something with one hand and not the other becomes very difficult...At 175, we begin to see an absolute breakdown of cognitive processing...The forebrain shuts down, and the mid-brain – the part of your brain that is the same as your dog's (all mammals have that part of the brain) – reaches up and hijacks the forebrain. Have you ever tried to have a discussion with an angry or frightened human being? You can't do it...You might as well try to argue with your dog." Vision becomes even more restricted. Behavior becomes inappropriately aggressive...Blood is withdrawn from our outer muscle layer and concentrated in core muscle mass...that leaves us clumsy and helpless... - Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Now let's return to our little girl. Confined, the closet's darkness accentuating the sounds of violence, urgency consumes her brother. Breaking loose, he leaves her isolated in the closet. Still bound and gagged, she listens helplessly to sounds of rage, fear, and violence, then silence ensues. Time passes, she struggles unsuccessfully to get free, then falls asleep, still trapped in the darkness.
Yes, you ARE special from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.
Next morning, she wakes to a deafening silence. Wiggling loose she ventures out. Neither her brother nor mother respond to her pleas to wake up. She calls 911, “I can’t wake my mommy up and there’s lots of blood.”
When they asked how she knew to dial 911? “Yello Dyno taught me to call 911.”
How did you know to stay in the closet? “Yello Dyno told me, I need to keep myself safe. I’m special from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.’”
This four-year-old dialed 911 when everyone around her made life-threatening errors. How did she do it? According to Lt. Col. Grossman, arousal and mind-blindness are supposed to be inevitable under conditions of stress.
If you ask Gavin de Becker, whose firm provides security for public figures, he will tell you quite the contrary. "He puts his bodyguards through a program of what he calls 'stress inoculation.'
De Becker does an exercise where his trainees are required to repeatedly confront a ferocious dog. 'In the beginning, their heart rate is 175. They can't see straight. Then the second or third time, it's 120, and then it's 110, and they can function.' That kind of training, conducted over and over again, in combination with real-world experience, fundamentally changes the way a police officer reacts to a violent encounter." - Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Our little heroine's impact on her community...
"I am the health/mental health coordinator in our school district. I also work part-time at ICU. A lady came in who was so upset - she said, 'Last night my son was supposed to sleep over with a friend who lives next door and I didn’t let him go. His friend and his mom were killed.' Later that day, I was watching the news and they released the mother and son's names and I thought, Oh my God! That 's one of my moms from last year. I know the little one so well. She and I have spent lots of time together. I knew those who worked closely in the case and they told me her story.
"You wish they never have to use it. I’m so glad she got it. You never know if they will retain the Yello Dyno lessons. If they get in a situation, are they going to be able to pull it out? You never know if it is going to kick in. She remembered the 911 lesson in the song, Help me Operator." - School social worker
How difficult is it for even an adult to dial 911? Dave Grossman says that everyone should practice dialing 911 because he has heard of too many situations where, in an emergency, people pick up the phone and cannot perform this most basic of functions. With their heart rate soaring and their motor coordination deteriorating, they dial 411 and not 911 because that's the only number they remember, or they simply forget to press "send" on their cell phone, or they simply cannot pick out the individual numbers at all. "You must rehearse it," Grossman says, "because only if you have rehearsed it, will it be there." For a startling example, hear how a fire expert describes his own response when his house caught fire and nearly ended his life - second page of The Yello Dyno Method™.
"She’s been placed with an incredible foster family. Her foster parents came to me and asked to know more about Yello Dyno so they could talk with her. She's doing really well.
"This is our third year teaching the curricula. The counselors and I break it down into six lessons and teach every three weeks. We review the previous lessons and teach the new ones. Our teachers are there when we teach, and then they review the lessons. We all work together. The children sing the songs everywhere. When the teachers are at lunch with the children, they will try out different scenarios.
"We have a wooden-railing walkway that is the perimeter around the classrooms. As we go from classroom to classroom with the Yello Dyno puppet, the kids on the playground will come running and yelling, 'Yello Dyno!' He’s like Elvis. They will absolutely rampage. I’m so glad we invested in the Yello Dyno curricula." - School social worker
(NOTE: the names of the town and school district have been withheld to protect the little girl.)
Most 911 calls by children are prank calls. However, in Yello Dyno's Help Me Operator! song, children learn: "It really is so simple; It's actually fun; 'O' for Operator; Or dial 9-1-1; Say your name and problem; Say your address too; Sing your phone number; I'm so proud of you!"
Yello Dyno is a 'stress inoculation for children.' Need more scientific research? Over 8,000 students from Ector ISD, Odessa, Texas, participated in our 2005-2006 REdS Independent Research, "The Yello Dyno Program demonstrated the ability to produce significant positive outcomes related to the children’s recognition of potential danger from child predators and what steps to take to escape those dangerous situations...It was found to be effective with all grades and performed especially well in lower grades (K & 1)."
Personally, all of us at Yello Dyno have tears in our eyes when we hear this little girl's story. Our thanks goes to everyone at this school district for recognizing the importance of personal safety education and to her foster family.To the little one who is now six years old, I'd like to say, "Yes, you are worth keeping safe and you are special from the top of your head to the tip of your toes."
Yours for child safety,
Yello Dyno Founder
P.S. Yello Dyno's NEW! Tricky People! Curriculum (Grades 4-5) PowerPoint presentation, with three songs and six video lessons embedded in the presentation, wakes up and empowers children to protect themselves from the dangers of Tricky People, child predators.
Educators, Non-profits, Churches and Law Enforcement: to have a Yello Dyno Curriculum sent to you for a thirty-day review, fill out this online form, or call me at
888-935-5639 ext. 100 or email me at Jan@YelloDyno.com
P.S.S. More information on reviewing our curricula from an evaluation by REdS (Research and Educational Services): The findings show that 80.8% of the students tested demonstrated an increase in knowledge after one cycle of the Yello Dyno Curriculum.
Comments? Ideas for future memos? Contact me: Jan@YelloDyno.com.
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