Not long ago we had a very scary reality check about stranger danger, kidnapping, and human trafficking. One of those you don’t think it will ever happen to you moments that make you really take a step back and think about how you have been approaching the issue with your children. All I want is my children to be safe, become strong honest individuals, and reach their dreams. In today’s scary world that is becoming harder than ever.
With so many reports of people being approached, children being grabbed, and bad things happening it is hard to scan your facebook feed or turn on the TV without seeing a report. Often these reports hit closer and closer to home. Now is a vital time to teach your children about strangers and how to protect themselves.
Books about stranger danger
- The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers
- Never Talk to Strangers
- Not Everyone Is Nice: Helping Children Learn Caution with Strangers
- Fairytales Gone Wrong: Who’s Bad and Who’s Good, Little Red Riding Hood?: A Story About Stranger Danger
- Be Aware!: My Tips for Personal Safety
Set a good example for your kids on being aware of your surroundings
Distraction is a huge issue today. Everyone has a phone in their hand scanning Facebook, twitter or playing on snap chat. You will be hard-pressed to find a parent at the park sitting on the bench without one. It is so easy for someone to wait for your attention to be on your phone instead of your child. Put the phone down.
Teach your child to do the same. You will not be at your child’s side forever and when the time comes they need to know to stay aware of those around them. A distracted child is easy to grab before they have time to react and protect themselves. Teaching your child to put down devices, remove headphones, and watch for danger could save their life.
Avoid confusion on the usual saftey tips
Children can get confused really easy when we send mixed signals. Clear directions that children can take literally is the best way to help your child avoid confusion that makes them struggle to decide on what to do.
Instead of telling your child “Don’t take candy from strangers.” Tell them not to take anything from anyone without asking you first. This helps your child understand that they can’t accept a toy, pet, or anything else they are offered without talking to you first. This also helps deal with the commonly mixed signal parents send to children when they say don’t take candy from strangers then turn around and take them door to do to ASK STRANGERS for candy.
Be clear about boundaries with your child. When a parent says “Stay where I can see you” they leave that open to interpretation. Children do not know where you can see and will often go further. When asked why they simply reply they did not know mom and dad could not see them. Instead set a clear boundary like don’t go where you can not see me, or even better stay in this area and come tell me if you want to go to another area so we can go together.
Protect your child when they are away from you.
Your child will not always be at your side. Even if you choose to homeschool like we do your child will have activities and such that take them away from you at some point of another. This can be a good thing as kids need to learn independence as they grow older. Keeping them safe is your first priority.
Tell your child to never go with anyone that you did not tell them they could. Set a keyword with your child that only you and your child know and teach them that if someone is sent to pick them up not on the list you will give them the code word. Change it anytime you use it. Another great option is to teach your child that if you will be sending anyone you will call the school and have your child’s teacher tell them. This is a great way to let your child know not to trust anyone that says otherwise.
Avoid clothing, backpacks, and accessories with your child’s name on them. As cute as they are even a keychain with your child’s name opens the door for an attacker. Children are often more trusting of people that know their name and can forget that their name is visible. If you must label things label on the inside or an area that is covered. A trusting compliant child is easier to kidnap.
Teach your child to run in groups. Single children alone are at higher risk. It is harder to take a child in a group because there are impediment witnesses that can make a scream, help fight back, or report what happened right away. More eyes for danger can go a long way in noticing that suspicious person coming their way.
Think about getting a GPS tracker for your child. Today they make so many great ways to track your kids. We love this watch that allows us to communicate with the kids and track where they are. Such a small investment and only $5 a month means it is affordable, allowing us to give the kids the freedom to ride bikes out front or play with neighbors while the younger kids nap and know they can just push the SOS button allowing me to run outside.
Teach your child what to do if someone tries to grab them.
Often parents tell kids ways to avoid being grabbed by strangers and hope that is enough. Sadly it is not. Your child needs to be told what to do if they get caught off guard and grabbed. The goal is to NOT allow an attacker to get your child to a new location. Just like they tell you as an adult if your child makes it into a car or hidden location where no one can see them the chance of survival drops.
Teach your child to draw attention. Often a child yelling help gets ignored. People don’t want to step in when a child is just throwing a tantrum and will often tune out the word help. Instead, teach your child to curse and yell You are not my mom/dad. Cursing arises curiosity and people will look at who is yelling. Adding that the offender is NOT a parent lets those looking on know it is not just a temper tantrum and your child needs help. Just having eyes on them raises the chance an attacker will drop your child and run.
Teach your child to be hard to hold on to. Wrestling with dad is a good way to do this. Teach them to wiggle, kick, headbutt and do anything in their power to be hard to keep. A child fighting back takes more work for an attacker to move to a new location and draws eyes to your child. An attacker will most likely find your child too risky to take with eyes on him and make a run for it.