"Stranger Danger" Talks - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is six and, although we've talked to him about not going anywhere with strangers/accepting gifts from strangers, we haven't really taken it much further and I think it's past time. We want to talk to him about everything, from strangers who try to entice children to any body who may try to touch him inappropriately and how he should react. Any ideas or resources I can use to get these talks/lessons going? He tends to be on the scary side so I don't want to traumatize him but with us living in such an urban area, I think it's totally important. I honestly don't know how to start. Thanks!


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#2 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 11:49 AM
 
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Before you do anything, read Gavin DeBecker's book: Protecting the Gift.

 

At 6, your son is in much more 'danger' from family and friends than he is from random strangers in your urban neighborhood. Instances of adults enticing children places are few and far between. Instances of a trusted family friend taking your child aside and molesting them are a dime a dozen.

 

What I taught my kids at this age was that no one should touch you on any part of your body that your swimsuit covers. If a doctor needs to check your private parts, mommy or daddy should be with you.

 

The other thing I worked hard with my kids is that when they say "stop doing that" it means STOP, whether that's mom or dad tickling them, their sibling whacking them or whatever. Stop means stop. If someone doesn't stop, then tell an adult.

 

The only other thing is to teach them over time to trust their gut. If someone makes you uncomfortable, you don't have to be friends or be polite. It's OK to be rude if they're making you feel icky.

 

But really, DeBecker's book is the best place to start.

 

 


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#3 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much! I'm going to check and see if my library has it. If not, I will definitely buy it. That thought is frightening but, unfortunately a reality.

 

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#4 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Found the book at my library. Picking it up tomorrow. =)

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#5 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 04:36 PM
 
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There's a video going around with a second grader who was grabbed in a Walmart.  She kicks and screams, he puts her down and runs off.  It's hard for my daughter to understand that a stranger might actually do something like that.  She's six and the world is full of nice people.  We have talked about good touch/bad touch and privacy but the "stranger" thing is just abstract to her.  She can't get her head around it.  I know it's a long shot that something like that might happen but...a friend's two boys were nearly taken from her front yard.  When I was 12, a guy tried to get me into his truck.  I know three adult women who were abducted from parking lots in the middle of the day (not friend of a friend, women I knew) so...IMO, better safe.

 

I'm planning to watch the video with her.  She will be shocked and probably worried but...I just think it's something we need to talk about and my saying, "some people are mean, one of them might try to get you and you should kick and scream" doesn't have the same impact as watching the video and hearing the girl talk about it.

 

She can be such a docile, polite child and she very much wants people to like her and adults to approve of her. 

 

Also, a few years ago she had a TOTAL melt down in a big box store.  I carried her out kicking and screaming and fighting ME while she was yelling, "I WANT MY DADDY!  WHERE IS MY DADDY!  DADDY HELP ME" and no one even blinked.  Yikes.

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#6 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 04:40 PM
 
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Link to video please?


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#7 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 07:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

 

 

Also, a few years ago she had a TOTAL melt down in a big box store.  I carried her out kicking and screaming and fighting ME while she was yelling, "I WANT MY DADDY!  WHERE IS MY DADDY!  DADDY HELP ME" and no one even blinked.  Yikes.


Isn't that awful? That's why in self-defense class they teach them to yell FIRE. And when his instructor explained ds why, she told him that unfortunately some people won't pay attention unless they think they themselves are in danger. Sad. 

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#8 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 11:52 PM
 
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I remember somebody on this site posted a great PDF about how to teach your kids to defend themselves, but I unfortunately don't have the link handy. I'll try to look for it if no one posts it soon.

 

Anyway, definitely don't tell your kid to be wary of "strangers." I actually don't think any parent who's ever said "don't talk to strangers" actually meant "don't talk to strangers," but heck if I know what they do mean. I was confused as a kid, and I'm still confused now. It's as if the world "stranger" has some mysterious property that makes it have a different definition to anyone who's spawned offspring. Just keep in mind that your kid will probably be using the definition of stranger that can be found in a dictionary (or something similar at least), rather than the weird parent slang version.

 

And yeah, you're more likely to have problems with family friends and extended family anyway. My mom and step-dad were always lecturing me about how I shouldn't be polite and friendly to friendly elderly neighbors, but my step-dad was the one who was abusing me. Also, my seven-year-old friends (I was allowed to talk to them).

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#9 of 26 Old 03-07-2012, 10:20 AM
 
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I agree that Gavin DeBecker's book has a lot of value, especially if someone doesn't have any experience with known predators. 

 

I knew too many families growing up where the kids were physically and/or sexually abused by family member or friends of the family. So his information was sadly and chillingly familar to me and I think he presents very accurate information about the type of people one needs to be concerned about.  I think it would be valuable to any person that needs to be informed about predators lurking amognst them.  

 

I think one of the very best things he drives home is how it is so important to teach your kids (especially girls) that it is ok to not be nice and polite all the time, that it is ok to speak up and how abusers generally avoid assertive kids.

 

Something that I can see in my own child is that he has no problem defying me but will go into almost a trance when a strange adult speaks to him, examples -if we are in a restaurant or out and about where people make idle chit chat  like the grocery store check-out line. 

 

It scares me to know that it would be easy for a "stranger" to lure him away.  I read somewhere that kids remain docile/quiet with strangers or not-so-familar adults because the child doesn't know how that person will react where with a parent, the child knows exactly what reaction to expect and they are already comfortable with the outcome.  They will push back/talk back to mom because they are comfortable with mom (like how NiteNicole describes her store exit) the but remain silent with a stranger.  Kiddos to that girl in Wal-Mart for putting up the fight!


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#10 of 26 Old 03-07-2012, 11:24 AM
 
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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/brittney-baxter-escapes-walmart-kidnapping_n_1265080.html

 

I don't think I've ever told my daughter not to talk to strangers but we've had a few conversations about not going anywhere with an adult you don't know, etc.  It's at this point that some contrary soul wants to point out all the times in which a child might NEED to go with an adult they don't know but really, I don't care.  I can't cover ALL the bases at once, I can only do my best and add to as needed.  Sure, she may have to go somewhere with the school nurse she hasn't met or (in my daughter's case, PT, OT, APE teacher) but an adult she DOES know will make the introduction and if she refuses to go somewhere with an OT because she's a "stranger" then...oh well.  We will deal.

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#11 of 26 Old 03-07-2012, 01:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/brittney-baxter-escapes-walmart-kidnapping_n_1265080.html

 

I don't think I've ever told my daughter not to talk to strangers but we've had a few conversations about not going anywhere with an adult you don't know, etc.  It's at this point that some contrary soul wants to point out all the times in which a child might NEED to go with an adult they don't know but really, I don't care.  I can't cover ALL the bases at once, I can only do my best and add to as needed.  Sure, she may have to go somewhere with the school nurse she hasn't met or (in my daughter's case, PT, OT, APE teacher) but an adult she DOES know will make the introduction and if she refuses to go somewhere with an OT because she's a "stranger" then...oh well.  We will deal.


And it if she does, for example, stick to her guns and refuses to go with that APE teacher, it will open up the door for continuing dialoge on the subject, furthering the learning experience.

 


 

 


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#12 of 26 Old 04-05-2012, 09:19 PM
 
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Ive always tried to teach my DC not to go anywhere with anyone she does not know or anyone she feels uncomfortable with. I have also been working on teaching her to fight by whatever means necessary if anyone ever tries to take her anywhere against her will and to yell loudly that she doesn't know them and they are a stranger. i hope this will protect her should it ever be necessary for her to use these skills.

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#13 of 26 Old 04-11-2012, 03:40 PM
 
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"A Touching Book" by Jan Hindman is a good one for young kids (even toddlers)- what I like best about it is that it addresses the issues without creating shame about the body parts, and sets the stage for later talks about sex and respect for your own body.

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#14 of 26 Old 04-14-2012, 05:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

Before you do anything, read Gavin DeBecker's book: Protecting the Gift.

 

I agree with this.


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#15 of 26 Old 04-20-2012, 11:03 PM
 
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This isn't really stranger danger, but it falls into that same sort of safety catagory: I remember my mom telling me that if I'm lost or can't find her to look for a mommy with kids and tell her, not the policeman you sometimes hear about. If I'm not mistaken that subject is touched on in "Protecting the Gift" as well, and really, how often do you see a policeman in uniform walking around when  you need one?


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Originally Posted by KateDavies45 View Post

This isn't really stranger danger, but it falls into that same sort of safety catagory: I remember my mom telling me that if I'm lost or can't find her to look for a mommy with kids and tell her, not the policeman you sometimes hear about. If I'm not mistaken that subject is touched on in "Protecting the Gift" as well, and really, how often do you see a policeman in uniform walking around when  you need one?

 

Yep. Another thing I remember is, if, say, a child is lost and alone and scared somewhere, first of all, its really unlikely that someone inclined to harm a child will be in the vicinity.. but if there is such a person nearby, they will be the first person to approach the child with, "did you lose your mommy? Come with me, I'll help you find her". But if the same child takes the initiative to choose someone to ask for help, chances are excellent they will choose someone safe. By chance, and also even if we aren't cognitively aware, we pick up on body language and just get vibes from people.   

 

Ooohh.. reminds me of last December! I was at an outlet mall, so outdoors. I was heading towards gymboree and a man walked in ahead of me. I was thinking, "that guy looks like he's going to rob the place" and then, as I walked into the store behind him (duh.gif) I thought about how thats an interesting thing to think, and even spent a few seconds analyzing what made me think that. Could it be because a grandpa aged guy with no kids with him doesn't fit the gymboree demographics? And then, as he went *straight to the register*, that didn't trigger my "oh thats weird" radar, and I went about looking at cute stuff. That guy totally did attempt robbery. He failed, because I interrupted his conversation with the poor scared employee to open the register with a question about their current sale. He got nervous and left. Now.. luckily no one was hurt. But I should have walked into a different store the instant I got that vibe. What we need to do is teach our kids to recognize that feeling, and then make a choice based on it. No worrying about being rude! 


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#17 of 26 Old 04-30-2012, 07:08 AM
 
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 He failed, because I interrupted his conversation with the poor scared employee to open the register with a question about their current sale. He got nervous and left. Now.. luckily no one was hurt. But I should have walked into a different store the instant I got that vibe. What we need to do is teach our kids to recognize that feeling, and then make a choice based on it. No worrying about being rude! 

 

Wow, did you interrupt on purpose??? Good thinking if you did.


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#18 of 26 Old 04-30-2012, 11:53 AM
 
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Wow, did you interrupt on purpose??? Good thinking if you did.

 

No way! I'd never interrupt a robber on purpose. I had a 2 & 4 year old with me AND a newborn in a sling. After that fleeting thought just before entering the store, I got distracted by all the cute stuff and completely forgot. So I really did approach the confrontation as an ignorant customer. I didn't even realize what had happened until several minutes later, after a security guard had come and gone. I was obliviously going about my shopping! (they had a nothing over $13.99 sale) Was a good lesson to me that if someone is giving me a vibe that they are up to no good.. get *away*. 


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#19 of 26 Old 04-30-2012, 09:27 PM
 
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Gavin DeBecker's book is really good, but if it's the one with the stuff about rape, etc, there's some really victim blamey parts that you should watch out for.

 

Aside from that you could probably just use a discussion about bad touches to stand in for the rest of it. I don't want to alarm you, but the statistics show that most child abuse, of all kinds, is done by someone the child knows. That talk is probably more important than the stranger talk on its own.


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#20 of 26 Old 05-07-2012, 06:55 AM
 
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I wanted to share...

 

Yesterday I took my kids to a health food store cafe and as we were leaving the kids ran over to the toy store window like they always do. My car was parked right in front, so I started loading a few groceries in the car while they looked in the shop window.

 

I looked over to find a lady standing nearby and beckoning to them. I felt really uncomfortable and immediately went to stand in front of the children. She kept beckoning and saying that she had a gift for the children. I told her that we were all set and thank you. She got very agitated and kept saying that she had no children of her own and that she liked to give gifts to children. I told her that we do not accept gifts from strangers. At that point I herded the kids to the car and we got out of there.

 

I had a VERY uncomfortable feeling about this lady.

 

My kids (5 1/2 and 3 1/2) were very confused about why I was so firm with this woman and why I said no to whatever she wanted to give them. So it began our very serious conversation about stranger danger. I told them that if a stranger beckons to them or asks them to come near to them, that they say no and get close to their parent or other trusted adult. I told them that we NEVER accept gifts from strangers and if a stranger ever grabs them that they should scream and kick as loud and hard as they can. Both kids had huge eyes an lots of questions. It had never occured to them that these things happen. I felt sort of sad to break that innocence, but I realised that they needed to know.

 

I also talked to them about people we know, and that if someone that we do know ever makes them feel uncomfortable they should tell me. I told them to always trust those feelings.

 

Just thought I would share!


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#21 of 26 Old 05-07-2012, 07:07 AM
 
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That level of social inappropriateness speaks more to perhaps mental delays or mental illness than being a predator, though.    A typically developed grown woman does not try to give strange children gifts, nor argue with their mother when they're turned down.     

I'd be far more concerned about, say, a young man of apparent typical mental development and health getting chatty with your kids and then taking off when he realizes you've noticed.  


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#22 of 26 Old 05-07-2012, 11:06 AM
 
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When I worked, I held several positions that put me in sketchy situations frequently.  I had a few terrifyingly close calls.  One evening I found myself in a largely vacant parking garage, and suddenly in the company of a man I sized up as very bad news.  I made the mistake of running.  I was very, very lucky that I knew where the security station was (and he apparently didn't), because he did run after me.  It was the only time I ran, and it was definitely a big mistake.  The next time I found myself certainly being followed across an abandoned parking lot late in the evening by someone who was absolutely up to no good, I turned and stared directly at him with my arms crossed.  I think my message must have been pretty clear, because he stopped in his tracks and then took the widest possible path around me.  Turning and staring the follower down seemed much more natural to me.  Growing up, I was spared no details about what the possibilities were.  I was begrudgingly praised for having the "most fight per pound".  I plan to teach my daughter the very same things that have kept me safe in some pretty ugly neighborhoods at some pretty ugly hours with some pretty ugly people. 

 

As far as being lost as a child - did anyone else have to learn their full name, address, phone number and their father's full name, place of employment and phone number in school?  (What a relic of an age gone by too - father's employment was only required, mother was assumed to be at home where I came from.)  We drilled every week...  every week we had to write it down on an index card for our teacher.  Just in case we were found wandering the sidewalks.


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#23 of 26 Old 05-09-2012, 08:47 AM
 
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OMG I can't even imagine how terrifying it would be to be chased by a strange man like that!! What an absolute nightmare. Thank goodness you knew where to find help, and in time. Did he go all the way to the security station behind you? Was he apprehended?

 

I don't recall having name/address drills from school. But we are constantly going over with our son (37 mos) our street address and full names. Haven't started with phone numbers yet etc. I would only be afraid that someone who wanted to help him wouldn't be able to understand what he is saying (he has trouble with lots of letter sounds). When we go to a crowded public place, I put a slip of paper in his pocket with his name and mine, and our phone numbers just in case.

 

 

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When I worked, I held several positions that put me in sketchy situations frequently.  I had a few terrifyingly close calls.  One evening I found myself in a largely vacant parking garage, and suddenly in the company of a man I sized up as very bad news.  I made the mistake of running.  I was very, very lucky that I knew where the security station was (and he apparently didn't), because he did run after me.  It was the only time I ran, and it was definitely a big mistake.  The next time I found myself certainly being followed across an abandoned parking lot late in the evening by someone who was absolutely up to no good, I turned and stared directly at him with my arms crossed.  I think my message must have been pretty clear, because he stopped in his tracks and then took the widest possible path around me.  Turning and staring the follower down seemed much more natural to me.  Growing up, I was spared no details about what the possibilities were.  I was begrudgingly praised for having the "most fight per pound".  I plan to teach my daughter the very same things that have kept me safe in some pretty ugly neighborhoods at some pretty ugly hours with some pretty ugly people. 

 

As far as being lost as a child - did anyone else have to learn their full name, address, phone number and their father's full name, place of employment and phone number in school?  (What a relic of an age gone by too - father's employment was only required, mother was assumed to be at home where I came from.)  We drilled every week...  every week we had to write it down on an index card for our teacher.  Just in case we were found wandering the sidewalks.

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#24 of 26 Old 05-09-2012, 09:25 AM
 
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I don't remember having name and address drills in school either. I have since DS could talk gone over his name, address and phone number and our names. I taught him our phone number as a song and he got it really quickly. Every now and again I ask him his name, address, phone number and our names and he always gets it bang on (he is 4y 3m) I also told him if he gets lost that he can find another mother or father with children or go into a store and tell them his info and ask them to call us. I also have these paper wrist bands (like what you get at an amusement park) that has his name and mine and DH's cell number on them that I put on his wrist if we go to a busy place like a hockey game, amusement park, zoo etc.

 

We have also talked about listening to the feelings in your body and if ANYONE even if you know them really well makes you feel uncomfortable that he has the right to get away from them and he can tell me or DH or another adult he trusts what happened or how he felt and we will always believe him and help him. I have also talked about what to do if a stranger approaches him or tries to grab you etc. He likes to hang out on our front porch and lawn while I am in the house and I like to give him some of that freedom. I have told him that most people are good and helpful but there are some people who want to hurt others and that he doesn't need to be fearful but he needs to be aware of his surroundings and to listen to his feelings (instincts) in his body and he can talk to me about anything.


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#25 of 26 Old 05-09-2012, 01:01 PM
 
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The slip of paper in the pocket thing kind of reminds me of these temporary tattoos I saw on pinterest: http://www.tottoos.org/.  I bookmarked them, although I don't know when we'd ever use them.  Kind of the same concept, though.


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#26 of 26 Old 05-10-2012, 10:29 AM
 
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SunnyPerch, I ducked out of the garage through an open door in a stairwell, and no, he didn't follow me all the way to the guard station.  So I basically came flying out of the garage and Kramered into the guard station, which was pretty funny in hindsight.  I didn't recognize him as a client, and the simple act of chasing a person isn't high on the list of crimes one can commit, so no, he wasn't apprehended and charged.  I reported his description. 
 


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