When it comes to teaching your young children about safety, there are several lessons you’ll have to cover. Look left, look right, look left again before crossing the street, and always hold hands with a buddy. Don’t eat the yellow snow. Don’t stick foreign objects in outlets. If you’re lost, find a proper authority figure to help you (a policeman, store clerk, etc.). They should also memorize their address and phone number. But perhaps one of the biggest concerns for parents when they send their kids off to school or allow them to head to a nearby friend’s house unsupervised is the threat of stranger danger. While child abduction is not totally common, it’s certainly not unheard of. Your kids may be trusting and innocent, but you are certainly aware of the fact that there are sick and unscrupulous people in the world who will take advantage of their naïvety. So here are just a few rules you must teach them to make sure that they know what to do when they’re approached by strangers.
- Never accept gifts. Whether strangers approach your kids with candy, toys, money, or other gifts, you need to impress upon your children the importance of saying no. Strangers might use these items to gain the trust of your kids so that they can lure them away. Or they may drug candy, food, or beverages. Under no circumstances should your kids ever accept gifts from strangers, no matter how nice or harmless the person giving the gift seems.
- Never get in a car. Predators attempting to kidnap kids will try to get them off the street and take them to a secluded area. Many do this by forcing them into a vehicle. But you should know that your children have a much better chance of escape if they do not get into a car. You must teach them, first and foremost, never to get into a stranger’s car voluntarily. But they also need to do whatever they can to avoid being forced into a car, and they should try to escape the vehicle if at all possible.
- Fight to escape, yell for help. Statistics have shown that the longer it takes a predator to carry out an attack, the more likely he/she is to flee the scene. So kids need to make noise and fight hard if anyone tries to take them away. They need to do whatever they can to get the attention of people nearby or to slow down the stranger trying to take them. Struggling, fighting, and screaming are all good tactics.
- Find a known authority figure. Any time kids are approached by strangers they should look for some kind of authority figure to help them get in touch with you. Depending on where they are, they might seek out a teacher, a store clerk, a police officer, or even a nearby house that has a neighborhood watch sticker in the window. You likely know the routes your kids follow when you’re not with them, so take the time to scout out safe locations where they can find a suitable adult to help them should strangers approach.
- Trusted friends and security questions. It is possible that your child could be approached by strangers or even adults they know telling them that you have been hurt and they need to come along to see you in the hospital. In this case, you should have a setup that includes a trusted adult who will pick them up or an agreed upon security question. If the person trying to take them does not meet these requirements, your kids should insist upon calling you or talking to the school principle first. It’s not like you have to arrange celebrity security levels for your kids, but with guidelines in place they will have a much better chance of escaping stranger danger.