You always want your child to feel safe and teaching them stranger danger techniques is just one of the ways to do that.
By talking to your child, you can help them understand what to do when confronted by a stranger. This helps give your child the confidence to say no when they feel uncomfortable around a stranger.
You should start teaching your child these techniques as early as possible. Remind your child about strangers every now and then so they don’t forget as they get older.
Good Versus Bad Strangers
The first thing you should teach your child about stranger danger is that not all strangers are bad. Explain to your child that most strangers aren’t scary. You want your child to be able to go to a good stranger when they’re in trouble. For instance, if a stranger asks them to come with them in a crowded mall when you’re out of sight, teach your child to run to the closest store employee or security guard. Point out good strangers so your child knows the difference.
Finding Safe Places
Show your child safe places to go if they’re approached by a stranger. For instance, if a stranger approaches your child in a car, tell them to go to the closest home with a car in the driveway for help. You should encourage them to always run to a public place whenever possible.
No, Go, Yell, Tell
Teach your child the popular No, Go, Yell, Tell technique. Tell them to say “no” to strangers, then “go” or run away to a safe place. Tell your child to yell as loud as they can to attract attention so the stranger will go away. Finally, teach your child to tell an adult about what’s going on so the adult can call for help or call you. The phrase is easy to remember, especially if you have younger children.
Encourage Group Play
Your child is most likely to be approached by a stranger when they’re alone. Ask your child to try and play as a group when they’re at a park or another child’s home. Ask them to walk with other children or a trusted adult whenever possible. Teach your child that groups are safer.
Sometimes bad strangers are persistent and may try to target your kid again. Tell your child that they should never keep secrets from you about stranger danger. Ask them to tell you about any situation where a stranger has approached them, or they’ve felt uncomfortable. You can then assess the situation and make changes to your kid’s schedule to keep them safer and/or call law enforcement to handle the situation.
Stay In Sight
Tell your child to stay in your sight at all times when you’re out together. It’s easy for children to get lost if they wander off to look at something. Teach younger children to maintain contact with you, such as holding your hand. When your child is allowed to leave your side, show them the safe area where they’re allowed to be. For instance, at a park, tell them which areas they can play in and still be within your sight.
This leads to the next technique – asking permission. Teach your child to always ask permission before going off to do anything. For instance, if a child wants to go to the next aisle in a store to look at a toy, tell them to ask you before just wandering off. Also, tell them to ask permission before interacting with strangers they don’t trust, such as a woman asking for help looking for her dog.
Things Not To Say Or Do
You should teach your child about certain things they shouldn’t say or do to help them stay safer and even avoid stranger danger situations.
Some common things kids shouldn’t say include:
- Telling a stranger their parents aren’t home
- Telling strangers where they live
- Telling strangers their name
- Saying yes to anything they don’t feel comfortable with, including with adults they know
Some common things kids shouldn’t do include:
- Entering a stranger’s home without permission (the only exception is if they feel they’re in danger)
- Getting into a stranger’s car
- Wearing clothing with their name on it
- Letting a stranger take their picture without your permission
- Going to secluded or dark areas alone
You can teach your child stranger danger techniques to make them feel safer, even when you’re not around. Though only 1% of children were abducted by non-family members in 2014, you don’t want your child to be in that 1%. You can feel better knowing your child is prepared to face everyday stranger encounters just by teaching them these techniques.
Ready to talk to your child about stranger danger? Use the Stranger Danger/Bad Behavior guide from Safety Education Alliance to help start the conversation.
*image courtesy of Brisbane City Council