Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stranger Danger

About two weeks ago there was chatter amongst the parents in my area that a man was going to local Wal-Marts and trying to take children from the Halloween section.  Or that's where the screams came from that thwarted his plans.

Yesterday, I received an email at work about a suspicious white van that was following children and watching after school in the area of the school where I work.

All of this, coupled with common sense, has made it so that I have become hyper-vigilant with my kids when we go out- ESPECIALLY when we're in a store.

It's also made it so that at the forefront of my mind is that fact that I need to make my kids aware that talking to strangers is not a good idea and that if they ever get lost there are specific things they should do to ensure their safety.  But I worry that I'm going to make them afraid.  Afraid of people, afraid of going out, afraid of everything.

I've been able to talk with my 5 year old about this a little.  I've been able to explain to him about strangers and what to do if someone approaches you.  But I don't think he's getting the clear idea and I'm not sure how to get that message across without making him fearful of everyone.

How do you explain to a child that they shouldn't talk to strangers and what is a stranger is but it's ok to talk to their friend's mommy or daddy if they ask you question?

How do you tell a child to go and say hello to someone they have never met when earlier you were telling them that she shouldn't talk to people they don't know?

How do you make them aware of the world around them and the fact that there are bad- and good- people in it without scaring them away from being a part of that world?

There are bad people in this world, we only need to turn on our TV or radio to know that, and we need to protect our children from them but how do we do that correctly?

I want my child to understand the difference between a stranger and someone he really just hasn't met yet but should get to know.  I want him to have a clear understanding of dangerous people and how to stay away from them. 

I don't want my children to be afraid of the world around them and the people in it- I think that's a terrible way to live your life. 

But how do I teach them about stranger danger and how to avoid it and be safe without scaring them?


LunaNik said...

I say scare the shit out of them. Seriously. I know it sounds harsh but better safe than sorry. I make sure I enforce "stranger danger" with my kids at least once a week. I especially focus on the fact that bad strangers will often use puppies and kittens as bait to lure in a victim. My girls cry everytime we talk about it and yet they will still run up to strangers on the playground, in stores, etc. It seems they are much more resilient to fear tactics than we parents think.

Caffeine Court said...

I'm with Nikki. I scare the shit out of them too.

They are totally fine, and have not been traumatized at all by my warnings.

They know not to go NEAR anyone they don't know unless I'm with them and the don't even think about opening our front door if a a stranger rings the bell.

There are some real sickos out there!

Better safe than sorry.

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