What are some effective ways to help your child understand stranger danger? We all have that lump in our throat and get that sick feeling when we think of our child being taken, hurt, or worse. However, relaying that much fear to our children is not going to be what protects them.
There needs to be a clear understanding with your child to know what strangers and dangers are. Then they will need to be empowered to know what the right thing is to do. This should become second nature to them. Here are some effective ways to do that.
Who is a stranger?
Your child needs to know who a stranger is. A stranger is someone that they just met. It needs to be someone that his or her mommy and daddy know. A stranger can be a person that the mommy and daddy met, but is not family or friends. You as the parent need to set up the boundaries.
There is a fear with all of us that a person we know will take our child. This is very possibly true. That is also why we need to teach our children who they can go with whom they cannot.
For example: Grandma is not a stranger, Aunt Peggy is not a stranger. However, the pool man is a stranger. The guy who fixed mommy’s car is a stranger. This way the child will learn to see the difference. You could even put pictures or visuals with this.
Show pictures of Grandma and Aunt Peggy. Then point to a stranger and say, “That shopping cart guy is a stranger”.
Pedophiles will try to find ways to convince a child that they are not a stranger. However, if you have empowered your child with the knowledge of whom a stranger is and who is not, then they will be able to make better choices.
Rehearse the actions!
Knowing who a stranger is will not teach them what to do if approached by one. The action you want your child to take should be rehearsed regularly. Here is an example of how you can teach your child what to do if approached by a stranger.
1. Do not talk to the stranger. This is the first and most important. If they know it is a stranger, have your child walk away and back to you or their caretaker immediately. Do not talk to the stranger at all.
2. If the stranger tries to hold your hand, say “NO”. Say it loud so that other people can hear them.
3. If the stranger pretends that they are your mom or dad, then scream, “You are not my Mom. You are not my Dad. Help me, help me!
4. If the stranger tries to grab them, then they need to be ready to run, kick and scream. This should include where a child should try to kick. Also biting and poking the eyes. I know this sounds harsh, however a child needs to practice what to do. This is the time for you to protect them.
5. Do not drill fear into them, drill knowledge and action.
What if they get lost?
If a child gets lost, it is a very dangerous time. They need to know who to talk to and who not to. It is scary because you do not want your child telling a pedophile they are alone. However, there are a few things you can do, in order to protect your child.
Tell them to look for a mother with children. She is more likely to be safer with the care of your child. She will also have more of an instinct to care for a child.
Make sure that your child has your name, phone number, address, and 911 memorized, and on their body. This can be in their pocket, on their cap, or whatever the case may be. This sounds silly; however it is easier for someone to find you if they know where to look. It is a good idea to give them change to call you in case they cannot find you. That is if they are old enough to use a telephone. Or, simply teach them 911. Pay phones have no charge for this call.
When you get to a location that you are going to, it is important to set up a meeting place if you get separated. This should be an easily visible site for a child who is small. Then let them know that no matter what, do NOT leave the place they are at. Do not leave with anyone.
Practice these habits with each trip you take, to the grocery store, to the mall, or to the park. Most of the time, we will be watching them, and they would not get lost. However, it is always better to be prepared.
There are several web sites like this one that have activities that you can use with your child to teach them about stranger danger. This is effective for teaching them because it will put a visual memory in their mind.
Use pictures of people who are strangers and who are not. Show them aids of what they can do in case they are lost. This way they have that visual idea in their mind.
What about the Internet?
There are many predators that are looking on the Internet to find their next victim. They are also very sneaky about the way they do this. Therefore, it is very important to set limitations for your child’s Internet usage in addition to talking to them about how these predators look for children to take through the Internet. It is not a fear thing it is a knowledge thing.
• Let them know what they can talk about.
• Instruct them to never give out their personal information like address, phone number, age, etc.
• Never, ever, let them go meet a person they met on the Internet.
• Show them that it is easy to say you are someone you are not through a web site. Pretend you are a kid on the Internet like them. This will show them that anyone can do it.
These are some effective ways you can help your child understand the importance of stranger danger. However, there is much more you can do, in order to protect your child. Remember consistency and knowledge will empower your child to be safe from strangers.