Have your kids been warned about interacting with strangers? While not all strangers pose danger, some certainly do. You don’t want your kids to be so frightened of others that it hampers their social skills. On the other hand, there are a lot of scary people out there preying on innocent kids like yours. What is the best approach for talking to your children about stranger danger?
I can only tell you what worked with my kids. While they didn’t grow up in a high crime area, it was still a metro area. There was a certain degree of caution I needed to impress upon them. I didn’t want to scare them. I did want them to be safe. So, of course, I had a stranger danger talk with each one of them.
When they were small, I kept close tabs on them. Still, there was no point in taking chances. We still had the stranger danger talk. We checked books on the subject out of the local library. We even practiced what they would do if approached by a stranger. After all, as hard as you might try, small children can slip away unnoticed. You might think they’re in their rooms, for instance, when they’re actually sneaking out to play. Adding this aspect of safety to the stranger danger talk keeps them a little safer.
Vamp up the stranger danger talk with tweens. As kids grow older and more independent, the talk can increase in seriousness. Tweens are well aware of child abduction. They see it in the news on a daily basis. They can read the missing child posters in supermarkets. Use the media to bring up the subject of stranger danger with tweens. Seeing the real dangers up close really helped my older kids to stay safe around strangers.
Teens might appreciate a more mature stranger danger discussion. Once my kids hit their teens, we stopped using the term stranger danger. Keeping the lines of communication open with teens can really make a difference when discussing serious matters. They may believe they have the skills to discern helpful and harmful strangers. In actuality, some harmful people are quite good at appearing safe, even to grown adults.
Teach all your kids the best bet is not to interact with strangers at all. Kids don’t have the experience to judge the motivation of strangers. Sometimes those that seem harmless are not, while those that seem dangerous, might be quite safe. Child predators are becoming more and more knowledgeable every day. They have new techniques that keep them above suspicion, even in the eyes of adults. So talk to your kids regularly about stranger danger. It could save their life or even the lives of their peers.
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