Stranger danger 101, keep your child safe & knowledgeable. Same strategy the police teach in self defense.
Who is a stranger?
While I was speaking with my children it dawned on me that the term "stranger" triggers young minds to think menacing, scary, person they have never seen before trying to abduct them. So I realized that if I was going to really keep my children safe I was going to have to take this talk a bit deeper.
1. If your child see's his or her teacher from Kindergarten or first grade and that teacher approaches them to get in their car, would this person be considered a "safe" person? All of my kids answered "Oh yes definitely they would be a safe person". Well the answer to this question is NO!
At first thought it might seem plausible that and old teacher could innocently want to give your child a ride home, but it's also a possibility that just because that said teacher never tried to abduct your child from the classroom; that they might not have other idea's. Pedophiles are teacher's and bus drivers and even friends and family sometimes. You don't want to make your child paranoid but it's better to be too cautious than not cautious enough. This scenario would include former coaches, teacher's aides, principals, bus driver's, the lunch lady.
2. Your child is walking down the driveway and his or her friend from preschool's father stops and wants to chat, does your child think this would be a safe or unsafe person? Also does your child think that if it's a female that makes them automatically safe? The answer to these questions is a big fat UNSAFE & NO!
Explain to your child that and old friends parent would have very slight/possible to no legitimate reason to want to speak with you outside the presence of your child's friend or your own parents. Children sometimes misunderstand that just because we know someone that the people they know are "safe". That could not be farther from the truth. Please reiterate to your children that stranger danger or "unsafe" people are not just men, erring on the side of safety makes people they encounter homologous. 1.5 million girls and 1.1 million boys are victims of female sexual abuse each year.
3. Your child is home alone, someone knocks on the door dressed as a police officer and insists your child come with them, they could be claiming you and your husband and wife have been in an accident. Would your child think this was a "safe" situation and leave with the police officer? This could be a "safe" situation, but it could also be a very "unsafe" situation. This is what your child should do.
In the event your child finds themselves in this situation tell them to very politely ask the policeman to wait, close the door and lock it. Then call 911 to confirm that a policeman or woman had been dispatched to your address. If it is legitimate the police officer will appreciate your child's smarts, SAFETY FIRST right!
The best way to solve the unending dilemma of are they safe or aren't they safe is to create a CODE WORD or PASSWORD that only you and your child/children know. If the person approaching them does not know the CODE WORD, instruct them to get away from that person and fast!
What can your child do to defend themselves?
If your child finds themselves a potential victim there are many ways they can fight to get away or survive. Make sure you go over these things until they are solid in your child's mind.
- If your child is grabbed in a store, they should kick, scream, yell "STRANGER DANGER HELP" be resistant the entire way, hold onto racks, grab for other people and again KICK AND SCREAM. Most kidnappers want a quiet and manageable target.
- If your child is thrown into the back of a van. They should immediately RUN TO THE FRONT OF THE VAN AND EXIT THE PASSENGER SIDE DOOR AND RUN!!!!!
- Make sure your child knows to scratch and bite, you want as much of the bad guy's DNA on your child as possible.
- Try to get away at any opportunity, your child should know that they never want to give up. Even though at some point after the abduction causing to much of a stir could get them hurt, let them know to keep plotting and searching for any way to get out or get someone's attention.
- If your child is at a friends home and they don't feel comfortable and they don't want to have to tell the parents they want to leave. Tell your child to fake an allergy or stomach pains and cry until the parents realize it's time to call you to come get them. Taking the pressure off the kid to say they want to leave can actually save them from whatever bad vibe they felt that made them uncomfortable. I personally would not allow my children to spend the night with anyone unless the parents were open to background checks, and I would never leave my children in a home with a "boyfriend", I hate to say it but it's true..most crimes against children are perpetrated by the "boyfriend". Don't be afraid to send your child out with your cell phone, and teach them how to use it in emergency. It could save your life or someone else's in the event of a health related incident.
Statistics & facts you should know
- In 2012, law enforcement & FBI entered 797,400 children as missing into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.
- The FBI task forces have rescued 2,700 children from being sexually exploited or sold into sex trafficking. The FBI task forces have also captured criminals who target children which successfully led to the conviction of more than 1,300 pimps, madams, and their associates who exploit children through prostitution.
- Most perpetrators are acquaintances, but 47% are family or extended family.
- Disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser. Most parents do not find out about the abuse until the child becomes an adult.
- 74% of children abducted and murdered by strangers are killed within three hours of being abducted.
Websites for additional information
- A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide/parent-guide
- Combating Cyber Predators (Innocent Images program): http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/parents/resolveuid/dd8b9139cf515e195c2b6c0289a7730f
- Advice for Kids: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/parents/resolveuid/7a5a8d8ac8edfad41b9b04df56d0753f
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.ncmec.org/
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© 2014 Karen Ranoni