Remember growing up we would always hear: “Don’t talk to strangers” or even better was the chant “Stranger Danger”. The problem is that most strangers are not dangerous. There are a few flaws with this method:
1) It is based on fear. Promoting fear is not good.
2) If we base it on how people look, it’s a form of profiling or prejudice. We don’t want to teach that.
3) The reality is that abductions or kidnappings are often done by people the child knows.
4) A child may be afraid to ask for help if they need it.
I came across an article in which a woman had taught her kids to look out for “tricky people” instead of strangers. This lesson ultimately saved their life as they were approached by some people and senses that something wasn’t right.
When you have kids, safety is a really big issue. You constantly worry about them being safe, where they are, who is around them, etc.
However, we want our kids to be social and not live by fear. Being comfortable around people and being able to talk to people are important skills.
This episode is designed for dads to be able to take this information and talk with their kids. I think it’s important we change the words we used. If you use “stranger”, you are left trying to teach them good strangers versus bad strangers. It can be confusing.
When we use the term “tricky people” it really speaks to the type of person that is trying to manipulate them or could do something to them. So how do we teach our kids to identify tricky people? How do we teach them to be “street smart”?
1) It can be someone you don’t know, someone you know a little bit, or even someone you know well.
2) Adults shouldn’t be asking a child to help them find something. For example: “Can you help me find my puppy?”
2) Adults shouldn’t be offering to buy or give you anything. “I want to buy you an ice cream.”
3) If they ask you to do something or want to do something to you, it just may not feel right. This could be touching, keeping a secret, etc.
4) Go over situations and examples with your child. What to do if you find yourself with nobody around at a park? What if you got lost in a store? What if we are at an event and you can’t find us? What do you do? Let the child answer and then correct them on what to do, not what not to do.
There are ultimately a ton of resources on child safety and best practices. The purpose of this episode was to begin changing the language from stranger to tricky person. Help your kids identify that when they have an unsure feeling, it’s ok to walk away or tell a person no. They have every right to do that.