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Most parents think they have a good idea of what to tell their kids about stranger danger, but they often skip vital information that can leave their child vulnerable.

Talking with Children About Strangers

Children have a hard time with the concept of a stranger. They generally think of strangers as monsters in the dark, or shady looking individuals. This concept is especially important to push with younger children (3-6). Studies have shown that a parent not only needs to tell children to stay away from strangers, but they also need to teach the definition of a stranger.

    • Clearly define who a stranger is. That a stranger is anyone who they do not know well. Strangers don’t look mean or different, they look like normal people. It is just anyone they are not familiar with. Strangers are mostly good people. But we don’t know them, and we can’t tell by looking whether or not they are good or bad. Because of this, we need to stay away from all strangers.
    • Tell children that the only time they are allowed to talk to strangers is if they have their parents or another adult by their side.

Teaching Children About Child Abduction Lures that a Stranger Might Use

Teach children that strangers sometimes might try to trick them to get them to go somewhere with them, so that they can take them away. This is called a lure. Teach children these concepts about a lure:

      • Review some of these common lures listed below. Encourage a discussion on how they would feel if someone actually asked them:
        • Would you like to come see my puppy?
        • I’ve been going up and down the street looking for my lost puppy and haven’t been able to find him. Can you come help me look?
        • I’ve got a gun in the car. Get in with me right now or I’ll shoot you.
        • Your mom was in a car accident and she’s at the hospital, she sent me to come pick you up and take you there.
        • I’m going to the school right now, would you like a ride?
        • Excuse me, I was wondering if you could come show me the way to the police station.
        • I found this backpack laying on the side of the road and I was wondering if you could come look at it and tell me who it belongs to.
      • Tell children that they should never believe a stranger or go anywhere or do anything with a stranger, no matter what that person says. Even if they know your name or your parent’s name, or if they claim to know your parents, don’t believe them. Never go with a stranger.
      • If someone in an unmarked car says they are a policeman, even if they are wearing a uniform or show you a badge, find an adult around you to check them out before you go with them.
      • Teach kids that an adult would never try to get a strange kid to go anywhere with them, because this is not normal behavior. If an adult is doing this, it is only because they are doing something they shouldn’t be.

Stranger Danger Resources for Kids:

Read your children our abduction prevention book: How to Get Away From A Stranger, designed for preschool and elementary school children.

Stranger Danger Coloring Sheets:

Meeting Strangers Coloring Page

Stranger Danger: The Puppy Ploy

Stranger Danger: Would You Like a Kitty?

What Children Should Do If A Stranger Approaches Them

Children can and have been successful in foiling abduction attempts, when they are taught ahead of time what to do. The best way to keep safe in the event of an attempted stranger abduction is simply to stay away to begin with. Teach children what to do in the event that a stranger approaches them:

Child abduction attempts from a car …

      • Keep away from the car. Never walk to the window or get closer to talk to the person, no matter what he or she says. Stay as far away from the car as you can.
      • Decline the person’s offer. If you are close to home or a friend’s house, go there and tell someone what happened.
      • If you are away from home, go into a business and tell them what is happening. If there are no businesses around, start running in the opposite direction while yelling “Help, stranger!” As a last resort you could go to any house and scream for help.
      • Call the police.

If children are approached by a stranger on foot …

      • Decline the offer. Never do anything a stranger invites you to do.
      • Start walking to the adult you are with or to the area with the most people, staying as far away from the person who approached you as you can. You could also shout out “Mom!” and start running in that direction even if she isn’t there.
      • Have someone call the police.

Teach children that if they ever feel as though they are in danger, they shouldn’t hesitate to run. Tell them to run to a friend’s house, business, or if they are in immediate danger, they can go into any house and scream for help. (Explain to them the difference between them going to a stranger for help and a stranger coming to them.)

Escaping a kidnapper: Teaching children to fight back against strangers

Tell children that if they are ever grabbed by an assailant, they should scream “Stranger! Let go of me” or “Stranger, don’t touch me like that!” or “Stranger, don’t touch me there!” They should try biting, kicking, screaming, poking the stranger in the eyes, grabbing onto anything they can – anything to try to get away or keep the person from taking them.

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