Sadly, children may be at greater danger from people they know, from other children, or on the internet, than from the traditional bogeyman – but abuse and abductions continue to happen and it’s important to teach your child how to stay safe.
Rather than giving warnings about certain types of people, teach them how to identify and respond to threatening situations. Children need to understand the difference between strangers who could hurt them and strangers who may help them.
Let them know who they can trust if they need help – such as a uniformed police officer or a teacher. Explain they must tell a trusted adult if they have been approached by a stranger or if they feel uncomfortable about a situation.
Help your child learn to be aware of their surroundings; encourage them to trust their instincts if they have a bad feeling about a place or person; and encourage them to be assertive.
Try using language like this when talking to your child about staying safe:
Staying safe – “Pay attention to what people do. Tell me right away if anyone asks you to keep a secret, makes you feel uncomfortable, or tries to get you to go with them.”
Going somewhere with someone – “It’s important for you to ask me and get my permission before going anywhere with anyone.”
If you have a problem – “Don’t approach just anyone – if you need help, look for a uniformed police officer, a store clerk with a nametag, or a parent with children.”
Avoid using language like this:
“You can tell someone is bad just by looking at them.”
“Stay away from people you don’t know.”
“Never talk to strangers.”