Stranger danger doesn’t cut it.
Sometimes it’s not strangers – and kids don’t always know they are in danger.
The likelihood of this happening to a child is thankfully rare. But, I am not into gambling – especially when it comes to my children.
In less than 30 minutes – you can give your children enough information to save their life.
[to listen to the podcast version of this article click here]
But first, some basic facts to stew over.
Stranger abductions are rare. Your children are much more likely to be abused by someone they know.
That’s why teaching stranger danger simply doesn’t cut it. Tell your children that no one should hurt them or touch their private parts – even people they know.
Your children are much more likely to be sexually abused than abducted and more often than not – by someone you have deemed safe.
Teach your child to notice the warning signs of sexual abuse.
Learn how to spot when someone is grooming your child for abuse.
Now that I got that off my chest – let’s get back to those off the wall tips.
First let’s start off with you.
THROW OUT YOUR CHILD’S PERSONALIZED BACKPACKS, BARRETTES AND LUNCH BOXES.
When strangers know your child’s name – your child is much more likely to trust them.
Don’t make it easy for a stranger by plastering your children’s names all over their bodies.
Every morning as I drive my kids to school, I see these two very young girls walking to school on their own. From down the street I can make out both of their glittery names on their backpacks.
HAVING A CODE WORD IS USEFUL IN MANY SCENARIOS
Make up a family code word. Try not to use a common word – but don’t pick something that is so bizarre it is hard to use naturally. You can use the code word in the following ways:
If you send someone to pick up your child – they should know the code word. As I talked about earlier, our kids are more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know. If the person doesn’t know the code word – your children shouldn’t go with them. No matter what.
If your children are at a friend’s house and something is making them feel unsafe, they can call you and use the code word.
If you are in public and there is a safety threat – you can use the word to warn your children to exit quickly or get down.
Okay – let’s move on to the kids.
First the obvious. Tell your child that anyone your child doesn’t know – is a stranger. Ask them what they think a stranger looks like and then correct any misperceptions. Children often think a person is only unsafe if they have a rough appearance. Telling kids simply to not talk to strangers doesn’t help.
It is more important to highlight that no matter what a stranger says, they should never leave or get into a car with them. Role play these ideas with your kids. Use various scenarios to test your kids.
Teach your kids to trust their gut instincts. Teach yourself how to assess the safety around you and develop your own effective gut instinct. The absolute best book on this subject is Protecting the Gift – every parent should read this!
Now for the less obvious suggestions…
IF FOLLOWED, RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF THE CAR
Tell your children that if they are being followed or chased start running in the opposite direction of the car. This can buy them some time as the car turns around.
WHEN IN TROUBLE – LOOK FOR A MOM WITH KIDS
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Tell your children that if they are lost or are feeling unsafe – find a mom with kids. Often a police officer or a friendly shop clerk are not at your children’s disposal.
Helping them delineate who might be safe beforehand can save critical seconds when they are in danger.
I know just because you have kids doesn’t mean you are necessarily safe. But in a time crunch beggars can’t be choosers.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO SCREAM, “WHO ARE YOU?”
How many times have you seen kids struggling in an adult’s arms and walked past them? Kids have tantrums all the time and we are immune to them.
Teach your children to scream out things that would alarm others.
Some good ones might be:
Who are you? Help!
Leave me alone! I don’t know you!
Where’s my mom and dad? Help!
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO BE DESTRUCTIVE IN ORDER TO DRAW ATTENTION
Tell your children that if a stranger tries to take them – all manners are out the window. Tell them that they are allowed to hit, scream and make a scene.
Give them some suggestions. If they are in a store, tell them to knock things off the shelf. Knocking things over will get the attention of more people who will then take a closer look at what is going on.
You might think all this talk about doom and gloom is unnecessary. You might think that the chances are so small it isn’t even worth talking about.
You are right. The chances are small. And perhaps it isn’t worth talking about.
But, what I can teach my kids in 30 minutes – might make the difference between life and death. And for that – it’s worth it.
I recently came across another therapist who offers an e-course to walk parents through completely safe guarding their technology. There are so many ways we can protect our kids if we just knew how! His wealth of knowledge is super helpful! You can learn more about his course here at iparent 101: Safety in the Digital Age.
Have safety tips of your own? I would love to hear them! Share in the comments below.
Do you have friends and family who can benefit from knowing how to keep their kids safe? Pass it on and share.
Read about what signs to look for that might indicate child sexual abuse:
Do you know an anxious teen? Give them the only self-help book teens are likely to read:
Any child of any age is a potential victim to an online predator. Does your child play Minecraft, have an Xbox Live account or is on Instagram, Kik or Snapchat? Click here to learn how to protect your kids.