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My school always told us to make as much noise as possible if someone got a hold of us or was doing something we didn't like.
When I was about 7 a guy tried to get me to go with him to his car, when I wouldn't he tried to grab me so I gave him an almighty kick and ran screaming like blue murder down the path to the front of the school... apparently the crosswalk man heard me half a block away and came running to meet me off the path...
Later we found out this guy was wanted by the police....
So even if you think your kids might be timid, it can be a good idea to get them to try what a 'real shout' sounds like. Especially if they were shy. I was quite an- ahem- hyper child so had no problems finding my voice but shy ones might be. So, give it a whirl!!!
As an older child, my mum told me that the word 'Fire' often gets more attention than 'help!' so to try different words until I got someone's attention. also, a big strong NO! is always good for a child to practise with you. (Though most kids know this one well, lol)