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Safe From Strangers
are few thoughts as terrifying as the abduction of your young child by a
stranger. The fear causes parents to think long and hard about their
children’s safety. They tell them in a very clear voice, “Do not to
talk to strangers.”
problem is though, that a child’s view of a stranger is very different
from a parent’s view. From the child’s perspective, because a stranger
is someone they are supposed to be afraid of, they expect a stranger to
look ugly or scary. In fact, few, if any strangers actually look like the
child’s notion. Then to make matters more confusing for children, we
teach then to respect and listen to their elders and be polite. Then as
role models, children see us talk to people we have never met before, day
in and day out. We even have them hug relatives whom they may never have
young children get it and will not to talk to strangers. They will very
willingly avoid scary looking people. However, when confronted by a
friendly, kind looking older person, they will likely respond politely,
which in most cases means “speaking when spoken to” and as they are
taught in school, they will follow their directions.
young children not to talk to strangers or not go with them, takes much
more than the simple admonishment, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
who want to increase the likelihood that their child will avoid or leave
from persons unknown must spend a good amount of time talking about the
issue and teaching their children on an ongoing basis. These tips may
your child’s safety, in your absence is truly a scary thought for most
parents. We do not want to put undue fear in our children, but we do want
to keep them from harm. It is important to understand how our own
behaviour may contradict what we want children to do when approached by
people they do not know. We have to talk about the difference between what
parents may do and what children may do. Only parents may touch the
stove… only parents talk to strangers.
in addition to teaching who NOT to talk to, we must also teach, who they
CAN talk to. If for instance, your child is lost in the store, who can
they talk to? Develop a list of safe persons your child can talk to –
even if they do not know them. The list may include police, fireman,
teachers and even cashiers in stores. Remember keeping children safe is an
ongoing discussion and not a simple one-time set of rules.
talking with them to keep them safe.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane,
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