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To me, safe and sound is my mother’s voice. Her constant vigilance about my health and wellbeing. It’s her saying to me as I hurriedly rush out the front door of my childhood home (because I’ve stayed late into the night when I only planned for a quick family dinner) “text me when you get home safe and sound.” It’s her constant mantra, and is so familiar that I don’t even know if I actually hear her say it or if it’s overpowered by the many memories.

Of course, by the time I get home and finish unpacking the car of the leftovers my parents have strong-armed me to take (to “make sure I eat a good meal the next day”) and the bubbly water my mom sends home with me (as if I’m unable to shop for it myself), I’ve often forgotten to text her that I’m home. Shortly thereafter, I get the all familiar “home yet?”. Although annoyed at myself for forgetting (and depending on my mood, at my mother for her incessant need to know where I am and that I’m okay), I text her back.

I had the privilege of witnessing this identical behavior from my grandmother, who thrust her love and affection upon my mother. My mom, well into in her 70’s, would still respond to my grandmother’s safety inquiries. For example, everytime my mother would fly, my grandma would get four preemptive phone calls — once prior to each departure and once upon each landing. I suppose after 70 years, you learn the system. Here’s hoping one day I’m as clockwork as my mom, and stop forgetting the “made it home okay” text.

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As we were beginning to transition our name from the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center to Safe & Sound, I was curious to know what that phrase meant to others. I had heard various staff members’ thoughts, but we are all a part of the same mindset — in that we believe in the safety and protection of children so much so that we chose to make it our day job.

In an effort to learn more, I grabbed a colleague and headed out to Union Square. We spent a couple of hours discussing “safe and sound” with anyone who cared to talk to us, which included everyone from a San Francisco native, to a Marin local whose life work was caring for women at a domestic violence shelter, to three young male visitors from Dallas, to a bike messenger, to a variety of people from around the globe. Although it seemed to us that many of their lives were divergent, many of them shared the same sentiment.

Here’s some of what we heard:

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As we head into this new year, I ask you, what does safe and sound mean to you?
(Let us know in the comment box below)

 

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