The importance of teaching your kids stranger danger.
It is a parent’s worst nightmare to hear that their child has been abducted. However, news reports are full of accounts of young children who are snatched up and submitted to some of the most horrific acts of violence imaginable. When things of this sort happen, it is a graphic reminder to parents of how important it is for them to inculcate in their children the “stranger danger” principle.
Children are inherently trusting
Children are trusting. This trust comes from innocence that is the hallmark of childhood. Therefore, it is up to parents to teach their kids about the dangers that exist in the world.
Parents cannot assume that their children automatically know to stay away from strangers. Parents should not think that just because they told their children about the danger of strangers once or twice that their children are going to remember it.
There have been several studies performed in controlled environments that show that when children are given the right incentive, they can be enticed to walk away with strangers. Parents are typically present during these controlled tests. They are surprised and horrified to realize how easily their children can be tricked into walking away with a complete stranger.
Parents face an uphill challenge
It is challenging for parents to get the message across to their children, especially to their younger children, that they should never trust strangers. Part of the problem is that children have short memories.
Children’s brains are constantly developing. They have not fully developed their capacity to think. This is especially true when they are confronted with situations they don’t see daily.
Parents must also realize that child kidnapping and human trafficking are real. There are thousands of people around the globe who fight human trafficking. However, it is up to parents to be on the front line preparing their children for the unthinkable.
Help children to see as thinkable the unthinkable
Having a child abducted is unthinkable to parents, and it is unfathomable for most children. Children who grow up in a safe and caring home are accustomed to adults looking out for them. This is what they have seen since they were born. Since children are in a safe environment, they don’t have their danger radar going. For them, the danger is something hypothetical. There is no context to it.
This is completely different for children who grew up in homes where they experienced abuse. Even when they are no longer in that dangerous environment, their hypervigilance remains. They look for and to see threats in every environment.
Parents need to continually repeat simple messages to their children. Never talk to strangers. Strangers are dangerous.
Make sure that children understand
It’s one thing for parents to repeat a message to their child and is something completely different for the child to grasp the message. Parents may want to use stories, coloring books, and cartoons to help their children identify dangerous situations and know how to react.
Some parents may even act out scenarios with their children where the parent plays a stranger and the child reacts. The concept of saying no to a non-threatening stranger is something that children don’t grasp until they are in second or third grade.
It’s disturbing to see news reports of children being kidnapped and abused. These reports have served as a wake-up call for parents. Parents are more vigilant about keeping their kids safe today than they were a couple of decades ago. Children also feel safer and more entitled to say no to an adult, especially if they see the adult as a threat.
It is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children the basics of personal safety early on. It’s a message that must be repeated over and over again.
Some parents worry that by teaching their children to say no to strangers, they are robbing their children of their innocent view of the world. Parents want their children to feel safe and secure. However, modern society can be a dangerous place for children. It is preferable for a child to have their view of the world negatively tainted and be protected.
Children have a unique and wonderful view of the world. Parents have every right to want to protect their children’s innocent view of things. They have the responsibility of keeping their child safe by teaching them how to act when danger approaches.