Our blog focuses on home security, but we want to be a resource for safety topics that don’t always focus on our core business. Our company is like a big family. Our kids know many of our coworkers and often use the term “uncle” or “aunt” even when there’s no blood relation. That’s why the topic of child safety and strangers is so important to us.
As always, feel free to share your own best practices or tips!
The conversation between a parent and a child about talking to strangers is an important aspect of child safety. It is a difficult topic to discuss, and if the child does not thoroughly understand the message, there can be the possibility of significant danger.
In fact, a study by the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, Massachusetts showed that only 33 percent of child abductors were strangers to the victim.
Here are five important things for parents to cover when going over not only stranger danger, but other dangerous situations as well.
1. Go over the definition of a “stranger.”
The first step in teaching your children about the dangers of talking to unknown people is to define the word, “stranger.” It’s hard for children to get an accurate idea of what a stranger is, because the description varies so greatly. In fact, many children believe that threatening strangers look mean, scary and ugly. Teach your child to be wary of any person who poses a threat as a “stranger” and to stay away from adults that put them in bad situations.
2. Give them clear, simple instructions.
When dealing with strangers, children will often be distracted or confused by what the stranger is saying. The National Crime Prevention Council recommends teaching your child, “No. Go. Yell. Tell,” which guides them to say no, run away, yell loudly and tell a parent or trusted adult. This is a simple way for children to remember how to react in uncomfortable situations. Also encourage your child to be aggressive in saying no, and to not be afraid in talking to an adult.
3. Go over examples of dangerous scenarios.
Sometimes it’s not only strangers, but acquaintances that pose a threat to young children. Go through different examples of when to run away from dangerous adults so your child can better recognize a bad situation. Some examples are if an adult asks for help with a task, offers to give the child a ride without a parent, or if they try to give the child a present without consulting you. Encourage your child to follow their instincts and always run away from situations they feel scared or uncomfortable in.
4. Encourage them to stay with you, other kids or trusted adults.
Tell your children not to go anywhere alone with an unfamiliar adult. The best way to do this is to always know where your child is. But if lost, he or she will need to ask an adult for help. Tell them in this case to seek out other kids, or adults who have their own children. When your child sticks with other children, he or she is more likely to stay safe in larger numbers. Dangerous adults will try to get a child alone.
5. Focus on education, not fear.
When teaching your children about avoiding dangerous adults, focus on making sure they understand the risks of talking to strangers. However, an unclear explanation or fear tactics will confuse and frighten them. Then in dangerous situations, they will be unsure of how to react and who to be afraid of. Having an overly intense fear of unknown people can also hinder their independence as well as relationships with other kids and adults. Keeping your child safe is the most important thing, but make the main focus safe decisions rather than fear.
It’s also always helpful to make sure your child knows all the emergency contact information he or she needs to reach you. That way, he or she can always contact you or someone else if lost. These five tips will help you have an effective conversation with your children. By effectively teaching your children safe ways to deal with adults, you can ensure your child stays away from scary situations and understands how to deal with strangers.