It was many parents’ worst nightmare. But it proved conclusively to these parents and others that “stranger-proofing” your child is so very worth it.
Some months back, a 10-year-old Canadian girl was approached at her elementary school by a man in a vehicle. The man explained he’d been sent by the girl’s mother to pick her up, but failed to provide a code word the family had come up with together. She immediately ran back to her school.
Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual story; according to the Department of Justice, some 2,000 children disappear a day in the US. This one had a happy ending, but most child abductions don’t end as well.
Where this story differs is in the simple rule most parents try to teach their children – don’t talk to strangers. As it turns out, these parents chose just the right approach. Here are some tips to help you raise the topic of “stranger danger,” with your kids.
- Pick a code word to be a secret between you, your child and anyone who would pick them up if you’re unavailable.
- Show your children safe places. Let them know where to turn if they’re in trouble, and point out safe spots to play and safe roads to take.
- Ensure they carry your contact information on them at all times.
- Teach your kids to say “no.” Let them know they won’t be in trouble if they assert themselves to an adult.
- Encourage your children to play with others. There is safety in numbers.