Teaching kids about strangers

There may be nothing more terrifying to a parent than the idea of your child being stolen away by a stranger. You want your kids to be prepared, so they’re as safe as possible, but you also don’t want to scare them for no reason. You’ll have to find the fine line in order to teach kids about strangers, but do whatever research you must to feel ready and have the conversation as soon as possible. Even very young kids can be at risk, so tailor the ideas to their comprehension level, but lay the groundwork for them to grow up aware of their surroundings and properly cautious. Here are a few things to keep in mind when teaching your kids about strangers.

As soon as they are able, get your kids to memorize all of their personal information. That means their full name, address and phone number, as well as how to spell everything. They need to know the area code, and be able to come up with the city and state they live in while under duress. It’s scary to think about, but if your child is kidnapped, they have to be able to tell an authority figure where they live, and the street address alone just won’t be enough. Teach them about dialing 911 in an emergency situation, and give them an idea of what to say when the operator answers. In the end, if they can communicate that they’re with someone they shouldn’t be, delivering their correct name and address is all you could ask for.

Instead of showing them scary people, show your kids the sort of people they can trust in a pinch. Point out security guards and police officers in public places, and show them how to approach those people if they ever get lost. Turn it into a game, and have your kid approach them. Of course, tell the public official in advance so they aren’t scared by the exercise. Once your child understands who they can trust in an emergency, give them steps to follow if they ever get lost. The best choice is to find a safe person and stick in one place, which will give you the greatest chance of locating them. But remind them never to leave buildings or go out looking for you. Don’t scare them with what could happen, but tell them that there will just be too many people for them to easily find you, and that those safe people are the best at helping children.

When it comes to your neighborhood, you should make your child aware of which places they are allowed to go, and which they should avoid. Show them where family friends live, and even bring your child there to meet those people. If your child is comfortable with them, they won’t be strangers, and they’re more likely to approach them when a need arises. You can create a code word, and tell all the trusted people in your child’s life what it is. Let your child know he has a code word, just like a superhero, and that he shouldn’t go with anyone if they don’t know it. You may have to tell him over and over again, but it will make you both feel a lot better.

Lay down some ground rules, and keep pushing them until your children understand. Remind them not to go anywhere with strangers, and not to accept presents or food from anyone either. Tell them they shouldn’t leave with someone they don’t know, and not to go anywhere without telling you first. Most kidnappings happen very quickly, so this rule may be the most important. Turn it into a game that you two can practice, until it’s second nature to them. If you’re still concerned, think about installing a security system in and around your house. You’ll sleep easier knowing no one can break in. Start your search at www.homesecurity.org, and you’ll quickly find the right option for your needs.

 

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