Mums, it’s Pam here. Did you feel a significant shift in your general view on children and their safety when you became pregnant? Like many mums, I could no longer watch a movie that featured a child going missing, being hurt or even crying without high anxiety.
All parents like us, both new and old, want to keep their children safe from harm of all kinds, with safety issues and concerns ever evolving over the years between pregnancy and adulthood. You need to remember that when you’re pregnant, there’ll be no eating soft cheese or bungy jumping if you needed to be told (eye roll). Then you need to be across SIDs awareness in newborns, followed by child locks on all your pantry and kitchen doors, storing household chemicals up high and then sometimes the sudden appearance of the controversial child lead in the toddler years (try not to judge). When school comes around you encounter new issues such as what age do you let your child walk themselves to school? Or when can kids sit in the front seat of the car? And what’s the best way to teach kids them about stranger danger? The old stranger danger message has always been around, but this, as a key message for kids from a young age, still resonates today. We do need to educate children that unfortunately, some adults might wish to harm them. They need to be firstly, aware of this potential, then secondly, have the tools and process to deal with a situation if it arises. I found this list (below) of tips to tell your child about a stranger from Istaysafe.com.au and I thought you might benefit from them. Please note that you should rely on your own research and judgment when making decisions about how to tackle the stranger danger conversation with your kids and the processes you teach them to avoid and deflect a stranger incident.
What to tell your child about a stranger:
- Tell your child not to listen to or be near a stranger–rather to move away or back inside.
- Tell your child to never ever go with a stranger–no matter what the stranger says.
- Share a code word with your child that is easy for them to remember and assure them that only a trusted adult will know the code word that you both share.
- Tell your child that strangers may make up sad stories, like looking for a lost pet, needing help with a sick child, or needing directions.
- Tell your child that strangers may offer treats, gifts or lollies for ‘helping’.
- Have your child make sure an adult they trust knows where they are at all times.
- Encourage your child if they have to walk by themselves somewhere to walk near busier roads/streets
- If ever frightened tell your child to go into a ‘safe place’ like a shop, police station or school and NEVER get into a car with someone they don’t know.
We’d also add that children need to know that it is not always just male strangers who could pose a danger to them, but it can also be a single woman, or a woman and a man together. While this stranger ‘team’ danger is less common, the strategy of getting a woman to earn trust in a child to get them to act against their better judgement (with the woman often acting on behalf of the man) is unfortunately, well documented.
Our final child safety tip is:
Don't personalise your child’s backpack or any of their gear that may be incidentally seen in public. While Jordbarn has a cute range of strong kids backpacks with our signature Chinese lunar character, we are adamant against plastering your child's name all over it. This is because when a stranger knows your child’s name, it makes the child more accepting that they are not a stranger and as such, will assume that they are known to the parents. Along with this, speaking your child’s name can make a stranger seem friendlier and more trustworthy. With children being naturally innocent and trusting in any case, they can believe most of what they are told and will trust adults.