Teaching DCs about "stranger danger"?

(27 Posts)
bluebean Thu 04-Oct-12 13:55:13

In the light of the April Jones case I've been thinking about how we educate our DCs about being wary of strangers.

I don?t want them to be fearful when the vast, vast majority of people are decent folk and would never harm a child. But, clearly, it does happen.

Is the old advice of never trust strangers still used? Do they use this in school? (DD1 is nearly 5 and just started school, they?ve not covered this yet). What about when a child gets lost in a public place, are they then scared to ask a stranger for help?

April Jones knew the man they're questioning, so even if she knew not to get in the car with a stranger, perhaps she would still have got in his car.

So, what do you lot do? How do you manage the balance between teaching sensible vigilance and creating paranoia?

lljkk Thu 04-Oct-12 14:05:49

Gets lost in a public place but who would they ask for help: well exactly, you've got the problem in one.

When they go to school they are always meeting strangers and they are expected to trust them implicitly from the off (supply teachers,Ofsted inspectors, TAs, school visitors, etc.).

I think it's better to teach them that they should generally do what an adult asks but the adult is wrong if the action would hurt themselves or others. Also, some adults are good guys & some are bad guys, but they good guys would never do anything to take them away from mommy or daddy or that might cause anyone to get hurt. They will have to think and judge what to do, you can't remove some element of them having to think for themselves.

It's not foolproof, but nothing you say is foolproof. I know folk are upset about April but I reckon this is a nation of nearly 1 million 5 year olds; thousands of them have been playing out most evenings for years without anything bad happening. So best not to exagerate the risks.

MUM2BLESS Thu 04-Oct-12 14:31:51

As a mum I really feel it for April's parents.

I used the story about little red riding hood when explaining it to the younger kids I look after. Not talking to stangers. YOu should be able to pick up some good books suitable for children at the library.

pennefab Thu 04-Oct-12 18:42:01

I avoid the "stranger danger" phrase. Instead, teach no cars, except with x,y, z. No leaving a place unless with x, y, z. And then do some "what if" scenario practice (ie, see that nice lady/man ... What if she/he asks you to help find lost kitty, what would you do? What if she/he has some yummy treats they want to give you? Etc). Also remind them to go to store owner/ clerk/ police, etc and ask for help. Or ask a mum/dad who has kids for help. Memorize name, address, phone number.

There are so many situations where children do need to talk to strangers that a little more sophistication is required.

This week I discovered that DC1 (4) thinks that all baddies wear black and all goodies wear bright colours. So the first stage of our lesson was pointing out that you judge baddies by what they do, not what they look like. Important life lesson more generally too.

Following the Checklist Mom recommendations widely publicised this week on FB, MN etc we are teaching the DCs what good grownups don't do (eg tell you to keep secrets from your parents and teachers, tell you to do things that make you frightened, tell you to go somewhere without asking your grownup first, etc).

He also knows that you can always ask a uniformed shop assistant, mummy with children/pram or a police officer for help. He knows 999 and he knows the first line of our address. At big events he wears a wristband with my mobile number on it.

It's hard to alert them to risk without explicitly telling them what the risks are, so I guess it is a gradual process.

Our #1 rule is that you never have to keep a secret from your parents. You can h ave surprises, just not secrets.

colleysmill Thu 04-Oct-12 19:10:43

I don't have any advice to add although I remember when I was in reception class at school we were shown a video about "stranger danger". I think it was a standard film at the time (early 80's).

It gave me horrific nightmares at the time, so bad that my mum had to go in and say something as I didn't sleep for weeks after. The message was probably a good one but the way it was put across obviously was too harsh for a 5 yr old. Getting the message across without scaring kids senseless is a delicate balance.

starmaker7 Fri 05-Oct-12 12:16:16

I dont think 'stranger danger' is the problem people think it is ,the majority of abduction/murder/abuse cases involve a person or persons known to the child .I dont have the relevant facts to hand but do have personal experience :0(

AllPastYears Fri 05-Oct-12 12:37:09

Also 5 year olds are very unsophisticated. Studies have shown that abusers can get round them quite easily, "I'm not a stranger, I'm a friend of your mum," "I've lost my puppy, can you help?"

I agree that rather than focussing on strangers it's more helpful to focus on behaviour, e.g. Never go somewhere without asking mum/dad (unless it's Auntie Pauline), Don't go further than the end of the road, etc.

There was a thread recently about an older girl getting lost after school - as they get older it's helpful I think to add in what to do when you're in trouble, e.g. "If you need help and there's no policeman" (as if there would be!) "ask a woman with children."

I seem to remember that a survey of DD's primary school friends thought that on the bus they were safer sitting next to a drunk than a man with a beard. shockgrin

Flossie69 Fri 05-Oct-12 12:39:59

The following was linked to recently - may even have been the thread mentioned by AllPastYears:- Safely Ever After. It gives some very good ideas about teaching kids to stay safe...

BlueberryHill Fri 05-Oct-12 13:01:18

A PSCO came into school last year to talk to Reception class, focus was on road safety and what to do if you are lost.

I'm looking at some of the suggestions on here because we now need to have some conversations with DS1 about safety, I know its a miniscule risk, but I'd like to do something about it. Its the start of teaching your children how to go out and about in the world.

chicaguapa Fri 05-Oct-12 13:30:21

I tell DC that there are some unhappy people who can't have their own children and might think it's ok to take a child home to live with them. The idea of having to live with another family was enough to horrify DC that I never needed to go down the 'a bad man might kill you' route.

We've also been through the scenarios/ role plays which raised a few grey areas which I hadn't thought of, so I recommend doing that as DC can ask questions if they're not sure. eg. "But is it ok if he's already told you I'm going to look at the kittens?"

I also taught DC that if they were ever lost or lost me, that they were to stand still and go nowhere. I say it would be easier to find them again if they stayed where they were rather than if they wandered around. If anyone said they would help find their mummy, they had to say that they weren't allowed to move anywhere but that person can stay and wait with them if they wanted to.

A police friend also said that if you notice your DC is lost, head immediately for the exit(s). DH heeded this advice at Alton Towers when he couldn't find DS. He went haring out the shop towards the exit and ran straight past DS who'd left the shop, realised he wasn't with us and had stood still waiting for us to find him. grin

We encourage surprises, not secrets. And tell them it's ok to talk to a policeman or a lady with children, but not people who work in a shop as anyone can wear a uniform and pretend to work anywhere. It irritates me when parents use the police as a threat though "quick there's a policeman, be good or he'll tell you off". The police are there to help, not put naughty children in jail. hmm

chicaguapa Fri 05-Oct-12 13:31:55

I have also told them categorically that if they ever went missing I would NEVER NEVER stop looking for them. sad

We tell our 3yo DD that if she gets lost at the shops she must go into the nearest shop and tell the person behind the till. Then she must wait until Mummy or Daddy come into the shop to get her.

If we're not at the shops we've told her to find someone with children and tell them that she's lost, then stay with them until Mummy or Daddy find her.

It's very simplistic and obviously we'll expand it as she gets older and more independent, but for now I think that's suitable. Unless anyone can point out something we've missed?

CharlotteBronteSaurus Fri 05-Oct-12 13:36:02

agree that "stranger" is not the best term

for now, we've told dd1 not to go with any adult without checking with whoever is caring for her at the time first (be it parents, grandparents or teachers), even if she knows them, as we would worry if we didn't know where she was.

we've told her this applies even if the person is asking her to help with something, and that she should tell them to ask a grown-up.

if she gets lost, she knows to ask either a Mummy with DC, or someone working in a shop.

sashh Mon 08-Oct-12 08:12:30

Can I just add to tell shildren not to take things from people without asking mum and dad?

I had a lovely crop of pears last year and asked the girl next door (6) if she liked pears. She said yes, so I said ask your parents if you can have one then. She said it was OK she was allowed. I said no, go inside and ask. She asked and the parents said 'no'.

I was quite suprised that it hadn't been drummed into her not to take things without checking. OK she does know me, but not well.

givemeaclue Tue 09-Oct-12 13:03:34

I have taught my four year olds that that if they get lost:

-stay together
-don't cross roads
-go in shop ask for help. I have taught them my phone number so they can say 'please call my mummy , number is x'
-if no shoppolice etc ask a lady who has children

-shout my name instead of "mummy"-in crowed places he lost

givemeaclue Tue 09-Oct-12 13:06:02

Not keen on telling children that people who can't have children might think it is ok to take a child. How offensive to people Xie can't have childre

seeker Tue 09-Oct-12 13:09:26

"I tell DC that there are some unhappy people who can't have their own children and might think it's ok to take a child home to live with them. The idea of having to live with another family was enough to horrify DC that I never needed to go down the 'a bad man might kill you' route. "

I'm sorry, but I think that is a truly awful thing to say!

seeker Tue 09-Oct-12 13:10:26

"I had a lovely crop of pears last year and asked the girl next door (6) if she liked pears. She said yes, so I said ask your parents if you can have one then. She said it was OK she was allowed. I said no, go inside and ask. She asked and the parents said 'no'."

And I think those parents were awful too!

bluecarrot Tue 09-Oct-12 13:35:08

I agree about "tricky people" rather than strangers. DD walks to and from school and this makes me rather nervous BUT she has to do it sometime, and on balance i know that she will most likely be fine.

She is NEVER to even look in the window or a car that stops beside her unless she knows the car (a close friend of mine, or a grandparent) She is never to accept a lift off anyone except a handful of people I have named.

We also have a key word that I would tell someone to tell her if collecting her. If she asks them the word and they dont know she is to go immediately to the nearest place we know (a particular shop or house of a friend, or to church) and if she feels immediatley threatened she has to yell "STRANGER STRANGER!" and run for it. Kick bite and punch if need be, and screaming to get others attention. I worried about last bit as she rather gentle but, when she was 5 someone mistook her for their dd in the bookshop, and just grabbed her hand and said "come on" and started to pull her. I was just beside her (about 2 meters) but by the time I realised what was happening dd had sunk her teeth into the ladies arm! In all fairness, her dd was dressed in same coat with v similar hair, and was a few meters away - was a genuine mistake, but my heart was pounding anyway! LAdy was really mad at dd for biting but I just sorta did a hmm face and a bit too loudly congratulated dd on doing the right thing.

Now she is older, she has a phone if we get seperated (with the "stay still til I come back for you" bit as a backup), but Im probably more hyper now than when she was little because she is so independent.

To add to it all, there was an attempted abduction about 4 miles away from where we live a fortnight ago.

openerofjars Tue 09-Oct-12 20:16:21

This is a great thread. I am looking for advice for how to get DS (3.11) to understand "tricky adults" because he is very chatty and actively goes up to random adults when we are out so he can tell them about dinosaurs/his new sister/anything else that is on his mind. It's very difficult.

openerofjars Tue 09-Oct-12 20:18:06

He's only just started doing this, btw, this week. God alone knows why but it is awful because he does it everywhere. I am terrified for him.

yramasorus Tue 09-Oct-12 20:46:08

My 4 yr old girl has just started pooing in her knickers. She has not been for a no. 2 on the toilet for about a week now. She has recently started reception but seems to be happy there, she only does this when she is at home. Her daddy died in a car accident 7 months ago, I dont know if this is connected. I also have a 1 yr old and she is always competing for my attention. She has become a fairly angry little girl at home and is a very difficult child at the moment, very sensitive. At first I didnt make a big deal about it but started telling her off tonight, I probably shouldnt have, im just getting really frustrated with it, she is a very bright child. Does anyone have any suggestions why this might be happening, also how best to deal with it.
Many thanks xx

yramasorus Tue 09-Oct-12 20:48:47

sorry, was trying to start a new thread!! blush

openerofjars Tue 09-Oct-12 22:05:35

Oh, bless you all and sorry for your loss. I haven't seen your other thread but would recommend bereavement counselling for her: it will help her in the future as well. You poor things: you sound like a lovely mum and feeling frustrated with this on top of everything you've been through is normal. I hope you find some more useful answers on your other thread. Good luck. <<hugs>>

Sandrute Thu 25-Oct-12 12:44:11

When my 4 years old boy start the reception this year, he use to be very angry, specialy at litle brother and on me. I thought- he is tayed, but he goes to bed at 8 pm latest. So is not a case.
Just 2 days ago., after talk with teatcher I thing I found an answer. On the start he wasnt listen whot he toled by teatcher/ run, hit the children/ he has to sit at noughtys chear, adn has talks with teatcher. But now teather more happy abaut his bahaviar and he feels better at school. So he no more angry on as after school. I suggest you should speak with a nursery assistant abaut girl, and ask for help with her toilet. Hope its helphul.

Sandrute Thu 25-Oct-12 12:49:22

Just speak with the teather may be yours girl has some ploblems at school.

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