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X-Plan: Coded Text to Help Kids Out in Uncomfortable Situations

One night when it was around midnight, Bert Fulks, a father in West Virginia received a text from his teenage son containing only the letter “X”. Immediately, Fulks called up his son and told him that he would be there in five minutes to pick him up.

Fulks, a Pastor, calls this the “X-Plan, a lifeline for teenagers who need an easy and discreet way to leave an uncomfortable situation. He says he got this idea while working with a group of  teenagers in addiction clinics.

He says that he asked the kids a simple question. The question being “How many of you have found yourselves in situations where things started happening that you weren’t comfortable with, but you stuck around, mainly because you felt like you didn’t have a way out?”, all of them raised their hands.

Fulks who is also a father of three children himself, decided to use that information to create a plan for his own teens to get out of any situation they feel uncomfortable with. He wrote about the plan on his website and it goes like this:

Let’s say that my youngest, Danny, gets dropped off at a party. If anything about the situation makes him uncomfortable, all he has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (his mother, me, his older brother or sister). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call Danny’s phone. When he answers, the conversation goes like this:


“Danny, something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”
At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.

The reasoning behind this is that his son has an easy way out of a situation which he is uncomfortable with or is being pressured into doing something he doesn’t want to do without being ridiculed by his friends. It also doesn’t force the children to tell their parents exactly what the circumstances are if they don’t want to get into trouble with their parents.

“The X-plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions,” Fulks writes.”This can be a hard thing for some parents (admit it, some of us are complete control-freaks); but I promise it might not only save them, but it will go a long way in building trust between you and your kid.

Fulks says that he hopes that other people may read about this idea and implement it within their own families. And his hope is coming true because according to People Magazine, his blogpost has already gone viral and has elicited more than 600 comments from other parents congratulating him on his X-Plan.

“I love this. I have two young boys and hope they never need to use it, but knowing they have this escape mechanism is very reassuring,” said one parent. 

Meanwhile Fulks is overwhelmed with the response and further hopes that it will result in meaningful conversations between parents and children in the future.

He says, “the most incredible thing for me personally is I’ve heard from so many parents all over the world, who as a result, have started having conversations with their kids. To play a tiny part in that, I’m just truly humbled.”



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X-Plan: Coded Text to Help Kids Out in Uncomfortable Situations