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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Explaining the Concept of Strangers to Children

This is an excerpt from my book, What Would You Do? A Child's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers. I have posted an excerpt from part of chapter 5, which is a reference for parents, grandparents, an other child caregivers:
            Parenting in these increasingly complex and troubled times is challenging to say the least.  Recent headlines of child abductions and of children who have been the victims of sexual predators heighten parental concern and make the challenge an even more difficult one.  How can you as a parent protect your children from such harm without making them afraid and distrustful of people in general?  It is a difficult balance, but it can be done. 
The key is to teach your children, in a non-threatening way, to exercise caution, to be empowered, and to trust their instincts.  You must start by retiring the phrase, stranger danger.  Such an expression can make your children think that all strangers are dangerous and bad.  That is a misconception, of course.  It is necessary, however, that you help children determine whom they can trust.  The best way to do that is to teach your children to think of categories of people. 
The first two categories include people they don’t know at all and people they kind of know or have seen before.  The third category includes people that you, as a parent, know well and trust to be around your children.  Teach your children to treat the first two categories as strangers and to use caution.  Help them to understand that the first two groups of people may be good people who intend no harm, but, to be safe, they should be careful around them. Teach them to trust only the third group of adults.  Give them a list of at least three safe adults, in addition to you, upon whom they can depend in an emergency.  The first chapter of this guidebook refers to the list of safe adults as their ICE (In case of emergency) Support Group.  By creating this group, you will have taken the first step in empowering your children and better ensuring their safety in a world of strangers.
This guidebook teaches children to take a proactive role in staying safe by having them brainstorm solutions to possibly threatening situations.  Such a solve-it-yourself strategy can make children feel more in control of frightening topics they hear addressed in the nightly news.   The precautions, safety strategies, and self defense techniques taught in the handbook are measures that are encouraged by law enforcement officials and networks of organizations dedicated to child safety, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and other child safety resources. 
Parental rules for children can be varied from one family to the next.  So be sure to review and discuss with your children the strategies suggested in the guidebook and appropriately adapt them to your own circumstance and age of children.
Picture credit: Nextia D