The world is a scary place, and our children are, unfortunately, being raised in a world where many horrible things happen to people, especially children. As a parent there is a constant worry about where your child is, who they are with and if they are safe. Today, it is absolutely essential to educate your child about safety and strangers. The goal is to not make them afraid, but confident in knowing if something bad were to happen, they would know how to handle that situation. Below are some tips on how to teach your child about safety, and to be cautious and aware of their surroundings at all times.
1. Who ARE “Strangers”?
It is important that you teach your child what you mean when you refer to strangers, and also that there can be “good” strangers and “bad” strangers. If there is a situation where your child is alone, he/she must be able to distinguish the type of stranger to stay away from, and the type of stranger he/she could ask for help from.
“Good” strangers would be police officers, security guards, people who work in surrounding stores etc. Be sure to let your child know there are a lot more “good” people than “bad”.
2. Implement a “Buddy System”
Tell your child to always walk with at least one other person when they are out, waiting at school or walking anywhere at any time. Children who walk alone are much easier targets than groups. If your child walks home with friends or waits with other peers for a lift club, phone the other children’s mother(s) and ask them to implement the system too.
3. Permission to Make a Scene
Let your child know that if he/she is pulled away by someone it is absolutely crucial to make a huge scene. No rules apply – they must kick, scream, scratch, bite and do anything else that could get any other adult’s attention. Let them know that they must not feel embarrassed to do this.
4. Memorizing Information
Make sure your children memorize all information about themselves and yourself. Name, address, mom’s and dad’s telephone numbers and the home number if there is one. Also, if your child does think a car is following them, be sure they know to memorize the number plate information and tell an adult straight away.
Teach your child that they do not have to speak to any stranger that approaches them. If they feel uncomfortable, they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to. Let them know that how they feel matters the most and they must not worry about offending anyone or making a fool of themselves. Ensure your child isn’t afraid to tell a trusted adult if something is make him/her uncomfortable. Let your child know that they will never be judged or made fun of for trying to get help in an uncomfortable situation (whether it be a serious one or not). Explain to your child how it feels to be uncomfortable so that he/she will know when they do.
6. NEVER EVER:
Make sure your child has these “Nevers” engraved in his/her brain:
– NEVER approach a stranger in a vehicle
– NEVER follow a stranger no matter who they say they are
– NEVER open the door for anyone unless it’s your mom or dad (check first)
– NEVER trust what a stranger tells you
– NEVER go somewhere without telling your parents
– NEVER eat or drink anything a stranger has given to you
If any of the above happen or are happening, seek help from the nearest adult you can find.
7. GPS Kids Watch
Invest in a GPS tracking watch that your child must wear at all times when out of the house. Make sure you teach him all the different functions and how to use it if he needs to. A GPS watch can track your child’s location, has an emergency SOS button and has a one or two-way communication feature. We found a great one from GPS Kids Watch here.
8. Magic Password
Create a password that only you and your child knows. Tell your child that if anyone says they have come to fetch them from school or home, they need to give your child the password so that they know the person was sent by a parent.
9. Role playing scenarios
The most effective way to teach your child to handle different situations is by role-play. Pretend to be a stranger in different scenarios and teach your child what to do. The role-play will leave you and your child feeling more confident, and is more likely to help your child remember the actions they should take in a real situation.
“Stranger Danger” should be an ongoing process, and you should adapt the lessons as your child gets older and is more likely to be in other/different situations when they were younger. For example, your teenage daughter going to a party or older son playing sport matches in the park with friends.
We hope this helps make your child feel more confident in what actions to take in serious situations, and hopefully will put your mind at ease too, or at least, a smidge more at ease!