You want to protect your child from dangerous adults. The thought of somebody hurting, abusing or abducting your child breaks your heart. But is the “Don’t talk to strangers” rule really going to protect your child?
Many experts say No! In fact, “Don’t talk to strangers” is a problematic concept. Here’s why:
- Many children assume “stranger” means the person looks mean or dirty. Dangerous adults know this and purposely dress nicely and act friendly.
- Children see adults (including you) interact with strangers everyday. That’s confusing for them. (”Mommy said Hi to him yesterday, he’s not a stranger. It’s okay to talk to him without letting mommy know.”)
- If a child gets lost, everybody around them is a stranger. How will they find help without talking to strangers?
The great majority of people who abduct or molest children are not strangers, they already know the children they harm!
Instead of “Don’t talk to strangers”, teach your child the following rules:
“If any adult or older kid offers you anything without asking me, step way back, yell, “NO!”, run away, and tell me.” (This applies to candy, pets, treats, job offers, photographs, rides on motorcycles, etc.)
“If any adult or older kid asks for your help without asking me first, step way back, yell “NO!”, run away and tell me.” (This applies to mailing a letter, picking something up for an injured person, approaching a car to give directions, doing yard work, looking for a lost puppy, etc.)
“If any adult or old kid asks you to keep a secret, step way back, yell “NO!”, run away, and tell me.”
If any adult or older kid touches your private parts (parts covered by a swim suit) or asks you to touch your private parts or somebody else’s, step way back, yell “NO!”, run away and tell me.”