What are the important things to know in order to keep your child safe? What if I told you that “stranger danger” could make your child less safe?
Worrying that a random adult who your child chooses to talk to will turn out to be a kidnapper makes very little sense. Kidnapping by stranger is a scenario that is scary and thus gets a lot of attention, but, statistically speaking, it almost never happens.
These days, pretty much everyone above age 10 or so has a mobile phone, so the best way to make it easy for lost children to find you is for your kids to know your phone number and ask an adult to please call you.
I think it’s also good for children to know that they’re allowed, and indeed encouraged, to break the rules in what they deem emergencies. We spend a lot of time telling children to behave, and yet in the (admittedly unlikely) event that someone tries to take advantage of them, this conditioning can be harmful.
If the house is on fire, yes, you can break a window to get out! If a stranger tries to make you comply and come along with them even though you don’t want to, yes, you can scream and shout, kick and bite, and purposefully knock over that giant stack of Corn Flakes boxes in the store. Doing so will get the attention of other adults, and that’s a good thing. In short, normal rules apply in normal situations. To an adult, it may be obvious. But to a child, it’s not always clear that there are exceptions to “behave,” because we’re seldom in situations where we have an opportunity to explain to our kids that this would be a good time to misbehave.
Contrary to what people commonly believe, being a child today is pretty safe. The biggest dangers are child abuse coming from their parents or someone else they are close to.