Teaching Stranger Danger to your children…
Telling your children to “never talk to strangers” is only one lesson plan for stranger danger you should teach your child when trying to keep them safe from sexual predators and child abductors.
As children, how many times were we told to “never talk to strangers”? And how many times have we given our own children the same message? We’ve all heard the horror stories and because of them we’re anxious to street proof our children. The “stranger danger” chat however, isn’t realistic. Instead, it is important to make your children aware how to interact with strangers in the first place. ‘Never talk to strangers’ just isn’t practical because children who do get lost are then afraid to ask for help from people they don’t know, including legitimate emergency personell.
We should teach our children “that there is a circle of safety, as in a safe distance when talking to strangers. For example if a stranger asks them for directions the child should take a step back, and walk away, since adults usually do not ask for help from children. If they are afraid, they can turn in the opposite direction and run away as quickly as possible towards a safe place. You should discuss with them, a list of safety places they can always run to for help.
As well, it’s important to explain to our children that strangers look like normal people, not monsters. And the word stranger should be a little more defined in that a stranger is someone you don’t know very well or know at all. In other words, a stranger could be someone you’ve never met, or an acquaintance of the family who knows you by name. Please be aware that in most cases of child sexual abuse, child predators are known to the child as siblings, relatives, friends, babysitters, a parent, or instructors.
People who prey on children are very good at getting the interest of a child, so many experts suggest role playing with your child how someone might approach them such as offering candy, asking for help, or if they’d like to come and meet their new puppy. This is a great way to teach your child stranger danger. Then you have the opportunity to teach your child to say a firm “no” and to walk away. If you do role play with your child, keep it matter of fact and calm so as not to overly frighten them, because part of street proofing children is not just pointing out dangers, but teaching them confidence. That way they’re more capable of making a good decision in a bad situation. You want to be able to tell your child about some of the hazards in the world. You want to arm them with the information of things that could happen. You don’t want to scare your child. You want to ensure that they’ll do the right things in an undesirable situation.
If the worst should happen and someone is attempting to abduct your child, the child should fall to the ground and start kicking, screaming, and even biting if necessary — anything it takes to loosen the abductors grip. The child should make as much noise and create as much diversion as possible so that other people in the area will pay attention to what is going on. Also, yelling, “Help! He’s not my father!” or “Help! She’s not my mother!”, is highly recommended as it will encourage others to intervene.
Finally, one of the best things we can instill in our children is trust in their own instincts. Children have very good instinct. They should trust that feeling in their gut that tells them if something is safe or not. We describe it as that feeling in your tummy that gives you butterflies if something isn’t right. Teaching stranger danger can be a life-saving tactic for your child and preparing your child by educating them can give them the tools they need to protect themselves when you are not with them.