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Teach Your Child Stranger Danger

While there is more than just one danger facing our children today, the one feared the most is the possible interactions with dangerous strangers. This can be the most heartening for parents, therefore talking to your children about strangers and the dangers they are faced with when a sinister stranger is around can be a very effective tool in helping your children stay safe.

In fact, the following statistics were reported from the U.S. Department of Justice.

  • 797,500 children were reported missing in a one-year period, nearly 2,185 children each day.
  • 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
  • 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
  • 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical Ekidnapping, crimes that involve someone the child does not know or know slightly.

There have been thousands of success stories of children who have been approached by an abductor who properly acted in a way that substantially saved their lives. They used the information provided to them by their parents, schools and other community events. No doubt it is a life saving tool to talk to your children about stranger danger. Here is a breakdown, by age group, of tips to assist you in the process of talking to your children.

Preschool
Preschool children normally have no fear, they are willing to say hello or talk to almost any adult they see. Although you don’t want to scare your younger children with the truth of abductions, you do want them to know how important it is that they stay safe. Start with a simple explanation, “there are really bad people who want to hurt children, therefore it’s very, very important that you never…”

  • Talk to strangers
  • Open the door when someone is knocking or ringing the bell
  • Leave mom’s side at the store or when we are somewhere outdoors.
  • Go outside without me or a trusted adult.
  • Go with a stranger who can’t find his dog, wants to give you candy, wants to show you something, wants to give you money, etc.
  • Approach a strange car, even if they know mom’s name or your name.

Keep the information simple, yet straightforward. If your children ask you questions be honest, of course age appropriate honesty. Go over simple tactics with your child should they be approached or feel unsafe in a certain situation, such as screaming or trying to get away from a stranger or other types of danger.

Main points to address:

  • Keep it simple, but straightforward.
  • Go over the main points (as emphasized above.)
  • Be honest with your children if they ask you questions.
  • Go over screaming and tactics to fight and get away from a stranger.

Grades K-3rd
Older children probably know a little more about stranger danger through schools or other activities in the community or on the news. Yet, it is suggested to be sure your child in this age group be made well aware of the top things to never do…

  • Talk to strangers.
  • Open the door when someone is knocking or ringing the bell.
  • Leave mom’s side at the store or when we are somewhere outdoors.
  • Go outside without an adult.
  • Go with a stranger who can’t find his dog, wants to give you candy, wants to show you something, wants to give you money, etc.
  • Approach a strange car, even if they know mom’s name or your name.

Many parents have successfully used a family code word, this word is one only the family knows. In case of an emergency the adult can give that to a trusted friend or family member the child doesn’t know to indicate a safe person. It is imperative children understand to never give that word out to anyone.

In this age group you can also go over those who are safe people. If children get lost or there is a problem with a strange adult, children should feel safe approaching individuals who are

  • Safety officers such as police, fire, security guards, and EMT.
  • Store personal
  • Teachers
  • Mail carriers
  • Mothers with children
  • Office staff, those working behind the desk of an office building.

This will give your children the option of running to others who are not intending to harm them, if an incident occurs when the child is alone, gets lost or is separated from their parent.

Main points to address:

  • Talk to children about “Safe people. E/li>
  • Use a code word.
  • Go over screaming and tactics to fight and get away from a stranger.
  • Make sure they know to always stay with a group or other children if they have to walk home from school or want to play outside.

Grades 4th-6th
Children in this age group will sometimes consider dangers, to really not be so dangerous. In this age group children should truly understand the dangers of strangers. Talk about cases that you know about from family, friends or through the media. You don’t have to tell them every detail of the case, but be honest with your child as well. Tell them if the child got away or lost their lives, we know we don’t want our children to live in fear, but to let them know how very important this message is let them know there is real danger with some strangers.

Children who are getting older should also keep important numbers of family or friends handy, a whistle or cell phone, especially if they have to walk home from school or have to be home alone after school. It is also important for children to have some type of buddy system. They should always walk with a friend or group of friends, isolated children are more of a target than those who are in groups or with other friends.

You should also go over tactics for screaming and fighting to get away from a stranger who tries to grab them. Let them know they are to be sure they do not, in any way, allow that person to get them into a car, that will only allow them to take them somewhere where it will be very hard to find them. Tell them to kick, bite, scream, anything and everything to get away from that person.

Main points to address:

  • Emphasize with your children the danger of strangers.
  • Have them keep important numbers, a whistle or a cell phone on them at all times.
  • Go over “Safe people E
  • Go over screaming and tactics and ways to fight and get away from a stranger.
  • Make sure they know to always stay with a group or other children if they have to walk home from school or want to play outside.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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