Stranger Danger

Stacie - posted on 10/24/2009 ( 17 moms have responded )

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I have 5 year old daughter and whenever we go out she likes to run around to burn off some energy I guess anyway I am trying to explain to her about talking to and taking things from stranger and explaining that bad things that happen to little boys and girls. MY son got the message quick but she just needs constant reminders help me suggestions i am tyring not to be graffic

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Sylvia - posted on 02/12/2012

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I don't really see the connection between running around and "bad things that happen to little boys and girls". If she tends to run away in parking lots and other dangerous places, that's one thing. But for heaven's sake don't teach her to be afraid of every person in the world she doesn't know!



Think about this. If your "safety teaching" begins and ends with "stranger danger" -- Don't talk to strangers! Strangers are scary! Strangers are bad! -- then you've missed a couple of really important things. "Stereotypical kidnappings" (child randomly snatched by a total strangers) are extremely rare, and they are *not* on the increase -- such incidents happen about 115 times a year in the US, and this number has been the same for a long time, which means it's actually happening *less and less often* (since the population is growing, but that number is not). We all would like to think that it's only big bad strangers who would ever harm our kids, and that we can keep our kids safe if we just watch them *every single second* ... but that's not actually how life works. The overwhelming majority of bad things that happen to kids are done by someone they already know -- a family member, a family friend, a neighbour, a teacher, a hockey coach. Someone they've been taught to respect and cooperate with. And the biggest danger to kids in North America? Car accidents. Teach her never to get in a car with a stranger or go anywhere with a stranger. Teach her a code word or secret question and tell her not to go anywhere with anyone who doesn't know it, even if they say you sent them. Teach her what to do when she gets lost, and what to do if anyone does something that makes her uncomfortable. Try to empower her rather than terrifying her -- it's a much better strategy in the end, because she won't always be 5!



Think also about what your own life would be like if you never talked to strangers, or took anything from a stranger. You couldn't ask someone for directions when you get lost. You couldn't talk to the cashier at the supermarket. You couldn't ask someone the time if you forgot your watch. You couldn't buy a lottery ticket. You couldn't talk to a customer service person on the phone. You could never make a new friend.



I've never taught my DD not to talk to strangers. I have taught her never to go anywhere with someone she doesn't know. I've taught her that an adult will not normally ask a child for help with something like a flat tire or a lost kitten -- they will ask another adult. I've taught her never, ever to get in a car with someone she doesn't know. I've taught her to kick and scream and make a great big noisy fuss if someone ever tries to make her do any of those things. But here's the thing: If she's allowed to talk to strangers, that means she can go to the corner store to spend her allowance, she can ask the bus driver for a transfer, she can ask for help if she's in trouble, she can ask to use someone's phone if she needs to make a call. And she can learn to trust her instincts: some people will give her a bad feeling, and I want her to be able to trust that feeling while still understanding that the vast majority of people she doesn't know are just as nice and normal as the people she does know.



My mom was very big on not talking to strangers. She wouldn't even let us trick-or-treat at houses where we didn't know the people :P. I'm also very shy and find it hard to approach people. When I was in high school, my little brother and I got caught outside during a freak hailstorm -- the hailstones were the size of golf balls. As we ran for home, someone saw us and called to us to take shelter in their house. I was so afraid that (a) something bad would happen to us and (b) we would get in trouble when our mom found out, that we ended up with a lot more cuts and bruises than we should have while I agonized over what to do -- because of course it turned out they were very nice people and just wanted to help us out.

User - posted on 02/12/2012

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Rather than teaching children to fear strangers, which is at best, woefully inadequate, we need to use positive messages. Children need to learn skills and confidence, not fear and avoidance. I was scanning through a few blogs and I am glad to have found this article about a Safety Service for my children. It's a service I could use to track my kids to be sure they were always in safe places. It seemed interesting so I checked it out on Facebook and actually got 15 days free. Here's the article: http://anationofmoms.com/2011/08/protect...

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Kim - posted on 11/21/2009

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Of course don't be graphic but also don't sugar coat it. Sometimes you need to scare a kid to get the message across. With some children they won't take parent seriously about serious issues if parents sugar coat things.

Stacy - posted on 10/30/2009

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I was just thinking on this, and I relized as many parents do, danger isn't just with strangers. We should teach our children of all danger, rather it is with a stranger or not. There are to many things in this world, coming from strangers and family. If you tell them to watch with strangers they will never think a family member or friend could do the same.

The most preasice jewel you can put around your neck is your childs arms.

We should teach our children what they need to know as soon as they are ready, and what to do if something should happen. You can do that with out being graphic. My children are the only jewels I have. I would be lost with out them!

Sandi - posted on 10/30/2009

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It's not just about not taking something because it might not be clean - if a child is close enough to have something offered to him or her, then he or she is close enough to be snatched. My kids have to walk down a secluded country road to get to the sitter's house after school (who is also my sister). They know the cars of the folks who live on that road, but still know not to take a ride with anyone but my sister, her husband, and her mother in law. And they know if anyone tries, to run like hell and get off the road into the woods. Today, we were listening to the radio in the car, and (being country radio) it had some lyrics like "this woman walked up to me and asked me to take her home," and the first thing out of my kids mouths was "she shouldn't get in a car with a stranger! It's dangerous!!". Running around to burn off excess energy is good for you and your child - but she can run around in your sight and in your ready reach!

Stacy - posted on 10/29/2009

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I was the same way when I was a little girl. My mom hated it, she tells me about it all the time. I got lucky, my daughter does not like talking to anyone sher doesnot know. There really isn't much to do but keep reminding her. Just to be on the safe side of things, maybe have the good touch bad touch talk with her to. I had this talk with all my kids when they were that age. You don't have to be graffic to tell her what to watch for. You can never tell her to many times about strangers. When it comes to your kids, love is never ending. If it take till she is 20, keep telling her. If you are like any mother I know(mine), you will still be telling her about the dangers with strangers for as long as you posibally can. We are never to old for our mothers love and guidense. I will be 30 soon, and my mother still tells me these things. Good Luck!

Kandice - posted on 10/29/2009

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My husband is a cop and unfortunately has had to see what can happen to a child that didn't understand the importance of not going with strangers. So we have discussed with our children about not talking to strangers, if you don't feel right about someone get away from them, and we have our kids use a buddy system, they are never alone. (They know if I catch them separated there will be trouble) I have even gone as far as checking the sex offender registry and made sure my kids can identify who they are and to stay far away from them. Unfortunately we just aren't living in the same world as when we were children. There are a lot of sick people out there. I made sure to also explain that it's not just adults you have to be careful with there are also "big boys and girls" (teens) that can be bad people. We had a hard time convincing my oldest son that not everyone he sees is an okay person, so we got graphic enough. We took him aside and told him how someone can take him away, hurt him badly, and he would never come back. I even had to show him pictures of some missing children to get my point across. I would rather have my children afraid of every stranger they come across than to one day not make it home because they thought someone looked kind and in reality they were monsters. Maybe we are a bit passionate about this subject, but when you actually see a baby girl lying dead because some creep wanted to use her and dispose of her like she was garbage, it freaking hits you. Hard. And you never forget. So please go to whatever lengths you have to to get your children to understand the dangers in this world. It will do them way more good to be aware of what could happen and actually does happen then to have them not really get it and become a victim.

[deleted account]

Hi Sherri - I guess it shows the difference between Europe and the US. Over here a gentle approach is often more than enough - I can only post and comment from my experience and from the experience of friends and family with children up to age 12 or 14 and how they have all dealt with it. If the US is so different in this topic, then ignore any information which seems inappropriate for your situation.

Sherri - posted on 10/27/2009

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No offense Kirsten, but alot of what you said makes no sense. Teaching your child if something is "clean" or not really has nothing to do with teaching your child the meaning of "stranger danger." We have taught our 9 year from the very beginning about this subject, and are continuing with our 2 year old. We have done this without being crude or graphic. I think it is only a natural part of being a parent to try our best to protect our children, and some of the advice i've seen on here is very disconcerting to say the least.

Samantha - posted on 10/26/2009

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you no what i feel for you.im going through a similar stage now with my 2 kids.my oldest is at high school and i let him walk to school and do various things on his own.but im always drilling into him how dangerous various situations can be.and to never trust a stranger.its harsh but nowadays its more true.also hes always going online and im constantly checking on him.but i feel its more scarier now than when i was a child.but just keep on telling her.i also have told them some things abt kids on the news that have been abducted.its harsh but you have to dhwta you feel in heart is right.no one has the all the right answers..

Dutch - posted on 10/26/2009

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sometimes the idea of danger is hard to process for some "free spirited" children. Make small buttons or tags all the the same color. and teach her or him that the tag means good or family. he or she will begin to identify the tag with people they know and that the people without them are strangers. make it a game..count how many people at the park with the tags vs without.

[deleted account]

Teaching a child to listen to its inner instincts is also very important. What is its gut feeling in a situation? Does it feel safe or not so sure ... this applies especially around people the child knows.

I never force my daughter to greet people she knows or to go with them (unless we've arranged it and talked about it before hand) - I encourage her, but when she doesn't feel like responding for some reason I accept it and remind her that it is her body and her feelings and she has to trust them about who she wants to approach or react to. It seems to be working so far.

Alicia - posted on 10/26/2009

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My girls are 8 & 9 and unfortunatly have to get off the bus by themselves so we have talked a lot about stranger danger. We have just recently learned that a "stranger" is not necessarily the scarey bearded dirty looking guy in an ugly vehicle asking if the child wants candy. They were aproached by a female who was on a motorcycle who was out of gas. I told them it does not matter if it is a male or female that they see if it is someone they do not know it is a stranger and she could have had a guy waiting in the woods for them. Scary I know but I think sometimes it is important for them to be scared to a degree so they know that something bad could happen. I have tought them little things that are helpful that children can even do to protect themselves. Hardest bone...your elbow, easiest target...their eyes!! Run in zig zag like a duck, not straight, yell fire not help! Its unfortunate that just when you think it will never happen to me...it could

Julie - posted on 10/25/2009

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Stacie...there was a 7yr old girl named Somer Thompson who went missing a week ago here where I live. The story didn't end happy. It's a sad situation but it's reality. The schools in the area remind the kids of stranger danger. And honestly, graffic was my last resort. My son is 9 and he understands but my daughter who is almost 7 didn't understand. My daughter had more questions. Who took the girl? Why? Being honest with my daughter is the only way for her to understand that it's VERY IMPORTANT to be aware of your surroundings. To not talk to strangers. To never leave her brother. My daughter understands now. Explaining to my kids whats right and whats wrong is important. No hiding the true facts. They need to understand that this world is full of sick people.

[deleted account]

I think it is normal to be scared.

But making her scared could be detrimental. Maybe a neutral explanation (like checking that things are clean, where they are coming from) could solve the problem without her becoming scared too.

Being a mother is sometimes nerve wracking, isn't it?

Stacie - posted on 10/24/2009

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It scares me but I will keep on tell her til she really understand I don't want to be raw and grafic and scare I want her lto learn and aware of strangers men and women

[deleted account]

A hard one. Right now we're at the point of reminding never to get into a car with anyone you don't know and like (except a police car). I've only had two occasions where she has been given something by a stranger - and that was on holiday from 'grandparent' type people meaning well. Then I just commented that she should always check with us before eating it. So far we've been able to answer the 'why' with 'just so that we know where it comes from and that it's clean'.



I don't know if this helps any ....

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