Last week, at our local library, I decided to do just that. My kids and I were sitting in the children’s area reading books and, since the kids’ section is at one end of the library (with no way to exit) I let my daughter remain at the table and walked 20 feet to the librarian’s desk so my youngest could report on his summer reading club book. Two minutes into the report, my daughter came rushing up to me, telling me that a man approached her, tapped her on the arm and talked to her.
She explained that she didn’t respond, but instead immediately got up and ran to get me.
This is one of those instances where no harm was done, but it’s still unsettling. Something like this has never happened before and I was caught a bit off guard. But, one thing’s for sure – my daughter wasn’t! I was so impressed with how quickly she took action. She didn’t have to think about what to do – she just instinctively ran to get help (me).
I’ve always felt it’s imperative to educate children from an early age about “stranger danger”. Despite not wanting to scare my kids, take away their childish innocence or make them distrustful of others, I started talking to both my kids at the age of three about what they should do if a stranger ever approached them. Last year, I took the learning one step further with my daughter – we spent a few summer afternoons role-playing in front of our house. And, boy, am I glad I did.
With the new school year approaching, it’s time to remind children of the stranger danger rules. If you haven’t talked with your child yet about strategies to keep them safe, I encourage you to do so. Make it fun and role-play; throw them curve-balls and see how they respond. Remember, it’s not always just strangers who endanger our kids. Here are some role-playing instances.
What would they do if…
- A stranger approaches them and says that they need help to find their lost dog/cat.
- Someone stops them to ask for directions.
- A stranger tries to take them somewhere against their will.
- Someone they know comes and tells them that you got sick, and wants them to bring your child to the hospital to see you.
My children know that if someone tries to grab them, they are allowed to do everything I tell them never to do in normal circumstances – kick, scream, bite, scratch (preferably eyes)… well, you get the idea. And, while it might be uncomfortable to talk about (I mean, what parent even
wants to *consider* the possibility of these instances?), kids need to
be armed with the knowledge and confidence to act quickly and instinctively.
It’s better for children to be ready for every circumstance and never have to use it, than to find themselves in a situation they are unprepared for.
Here’s the start of another wonderful school year! Be safe. 🙂