Talk About Strangers
Do your kids understand what constitutes a stranger? What would they do if someone they didn’t know approached them? Sometimes parents avoid having this talk with small children because they don’t want to teach their kids that sometimes bad things can happen to good people. You can, however, strike a balance between teaching kids to be safe and scaring them. The National Crime Prevention Council suggests talking with children about avoiding strangers, and recommends role-playing with them to help them learn what they can do to keep themselves safe. Teach your child that:
- Strangers are people you don’t know.
- Strangers can be ugly, pretty, young, old or in-between.
- There’s no way to tell a harmless stranger from a dangerous one just by looking.
- Some strangers, such as policemen, school teachers, principals, and fire fighters are safe strangers.
Role play with kids when you’re out and about, and point out the safe strangers and the safe places to play. Teach kids to trust their instincts and to be aggressive when frightened.
If it’s possible that you’ll have to delegate a child care duty (school pick-up, for example) to someone the child doesn’t know, agree beforehand on a password or phrase. Something humorous, like a tongue twister or a familiar riddle, will avoid scaring your child while also helping prevent abduction.
Another potentially scary topic for kids and parents is body safety. As awareness grows about this issue, however, more and more organizations are working to give parents and caregivers the tools they need to keep their children safe. Teach your children the 5 most commonly recommended rules for children to maintain their bodily safety:
- No one has a right to touch or photograph your body without permission.
- If someone touches your body, and it feels wrong, it’s okay to take back permission and seek safety.
- If a touch makes you feel nervous, or causes your body to act nervous (sweaty palms, upset stomach, etc.), say, “No!” and get out of that situation.
- If you have a problem, keep trying to tell the adults around you until they believe you.
- Abuse is never your fault, and no matter how long it’s been since you were abused, you can still report the abuse.