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How have you taught stranger danger?

(8 Posts)
create Sun 18-Jul-10 21:45:28

I haven't really.

Both my DSs were very timid when small and as they never left my side it didn't seem necessary. I was keener to encourage them to reply when spoken to etc.

Now they're 7 & 9 and starting to get small amounts of freedom, they need to know not to go off with strangers (which I am certain they wouldn't) but do I really want them to think of everyone they don't know as a potential threat? Where is the middle ground?

thisisyesterday Sun 18-Jul-10 21:50:04

i haven't either, partly because i don't want to scare ds1!
i can remember my mum telling me not to go with strangers and then being absolutely terrified that a man was going to come and "get me"

i don't know how to stress the importance of never going with strangers etc, without scaring them

hoppity Sun 18-Jul-10 22:04:21

I think stranger danger is over emphasised. The chances of a paedophile kidnapping your child or attacking your child are, thankfully, slim. Further, if a paedophile does target your child, it is unlikely your child will be able to do a whole lot to avoid the situation. A committed paedophile would, sadly, have a whole load of arguments, enticements, threats, etc (in a grooming scenario) at the ready or will just take advantage of a situation that the child has no control over (in an opportunistic scenario).

In both scenarios, I am not sure what a child can do to protect themselves.

I remember when I was in infant school, my mum was in hospital and my Dad was working abroad and so we were instructed to get a taxi home. (My grandma who did not drive was waiting for us at home). We were given clear instructions about where to wait for the taxi and what the taxi driver's name would be. On the day, a taxi driver walked up to me and said, "John can't come to collect you, so I am here instead, your mum says to come with me." It was all innocent and true. As I walked to the taxi, all I could think about was, "we are being kidnapped by a stranger, this is not the plan, where's John? who is this person?" BUT I also felt totally powerless to do anything other than get in the taxi with this man, who was taking charge. I felt sure I was doing the wrong thing, but I couldn't do the right thing, because I was a polite and shy little girl who did what adults told her to.

All to say, knowing about stranger danger does not protect against strangers.

I think there's alot of understandable but unnecessary (statistically speaking) fear but telling children these fears only puts the responsibility onto the child. It's a responsibility they do not deserve and most probably cannot take on. Nor should they, IMO.

More helpful to teach what inappropriate touching is, as tjhis can take place in a family, school, scout, church, whatever setting and is, sadly, more likely than stranger danger threats.

thisisyesterday Sun 18-Jul-10 22:12:56

did anyone else have stranger dangetr talk at school?
i remember the police coming, with their bear, Floyd!

and a song that went

say no to strangers, say no no no no no
and then something about short and tall, fat and thin... say no to strangers etc etc

Theochris Sun 18-Jul-10 22:26:02

I'm old, we had the charlie says films.

I think what Hoppity says is right, better to teach them generally not to do anything they feel that they don't want to (and about any one at all wanting to touch them or have them touch). Shouldn't just be about strangers, though you could include it.

I mean you don't have to scare them but to be honest, you should try to tell them that sometimes adults tell lies, you shouldn't always trust them, and Mum is always there to listen and step in.

What else to say?

Theochris Sun 18-Jul-10 22:27:47

Just re-read you post, hmm middle ground I'm not sure, I agree it's hard not to terrify them.

thisisyesterday Sun 18-Jul-10 22:32:15

actually, i think i have said to ds1 once when he wanted to go and play in a different part of the park that he was NOT to go out of the park and that he should never go with anyone else, because i wouldn't know where he was

does that work do you think?

maktaitai Sun 18-Jul-10 22:43:36

great post hoppity.

I've always just said to ds that he is never to go in a car with anyone unless he has asked me or his dad first - I strongly believe that communities in general are much safer if everybody talks to everybody else. I also talk to him about what to do if he gets lost, and tell him to go into a shop or to find a police officer; sometimes I say to him, suppose you lost sight of me, what would you do now? But tbh in fact, he does go in cars without checking specifically with me - e.g. going swimming with his friends' parents if he is staying over with them etc etc. I'm also frequently struck by how many children's stories, including some modern ones, involve children going off with a stranger in the plot!

I think you're right hoppity, it's better to describe inappropriate touching.

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