Tuesday, August 3, 2010

stranger danger?

stranger-danger image via

I’ve been reflecting on stranger danger lately. Some rather nasty incidents have occurred in my local area which started me thinking about how I begin to prepare my child about personal safety. Everyday he strives for more and more independence and frankly at times this can scare me to my core. Infamous images of the CCTV footage of James Bulger being directed away from his mother replay in my mind as my boy asserts his independence and walks ahead in busy shopping centres. Reasoning with statistics can perhaps argue that something awful happening is highly unlikely… but what if?  I ask my son to walk a little closer to me but when he asks me why I am sometimes at a loss of what to say. I don’t want to freak the kid out about people that he doesn’t know – drawing on statistics it is much more likely that if something untoward was to happen it would be perpetrated by someone that he wouldn’t regard as a stranger – but at the same time I don’t want him to blindly trust everyone that smiles at him.

It’s a tricky balancing act. How do you manage your fears? How do you explain potential dangers to your children?

16 comments:

  1. It's hard, isn't it? My kids are 6 and 8 now, and I while I want to keep them safe, I don't want to cripple them with fear of the world. We talk about child abductors, especially things that have been in the news. I tell them that there are bad people in the world, but many, many more good people.

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  2. That's pretty scary, I would have no idea how to approach this subject. Good luck and I hope the nasty person in causing these nasty incidents are caught. xx

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  3. I agree with Miss Prickly and have said something similar to my kids. It's hard when the kids see/hear things through the media so a lot of explaining happens then. But at the same time they need to know that not everything is rosy either and fear is good to a point. What you find acceptable, others will not. I still don't let my 11 yr old son go to the bmx track on his own. Others have their kids out until dinner time. I think you should trust your judgement and go as far as you need to to get the message through.

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  4. I wrote a whole comment and the bloody internet ate it.
    It did happen to Poppy and it was horrid and devastating and we still deal with the effects even though it happened over a year ago and Glen got her back before the guy took her too far so I can only imagine what would happen if it was for longer.
    The rule is that I have to see them at all times, they are not allowed to run out of my view, just like they have to wear a seat belt and hold my hand when they cross the street. I don't need to explain to them about road accidents they just know it is to keep them safe and that is enough I think for their age group.
    But it is a converstion you have to have - and inforce. They can't wonder off at the shops, if one needs to go to the bathroom we all have to go - I know I sound crazy about it, but I know how important it is

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  5. yes! I have this coming too. Very hard, like teaching them all the things they need to know about all sorts of dangers. Good luck.

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  6. I have been struggling with the same thoughts. I don't want my daughter to be scared of people she dosn't know - but i also don't want her running off with strangers.

    The other day my daughter wouldn't come into the public toilet cubicle with me and she wanted to wait outside. In frustration when she asked why she had to come in I told her that if she's out there alone someone mught take her away. She nderstood and came in straight away. But was scaring her the right thing to do??

    Interesting post.

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  7. We had an incident recently where our terrified-of-dogs-4yr-old followed a stange man out of the venue we were in to pat an ALSATION!!! Despite gentle talkings-to about never wandering off with stange people who offer gifts or to see puppies or anything like that..... her justification was "But he seemed really nice!". (He was the bloke in the room that the rest of us were thinking was a bit creepy). Thankfully I was watching and two steps behind her.

    I came home and wrote an email to my daughter's kindergarten - and now have an appointment to talk to the director and borrow some of the resources the have on the subject. She also suggested that she might ask the teachers to incorporate personal safety thems into the kinder programme.

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  8. Ummm... that would be THEMES in the kinder programme.... and resources THEY have on the subject.

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  9. We have the same rules as Cindy, yet are lucky not to have experienced anything as scary as their experience. We also talk about the importance of keeping safe. Running past driveways is my biggy as we walk almost everywhere and they are still too short to be easily seen.

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  10. I never wanted the kids to be scared of people either and they're big kids now and not afraid unless there is someone around giving off an obviously bad vibe.
    I've always told them that good adults don't approach and talk to kids because they know that kids are safest not talking to strangers.
    So that no matter how friendly that person may seem, they are doing a very wrong thing.
    One of my boys and some friends were playing on their skate boards directly over the road from our house and a woman approached them wanting help with her shopping to the car. Not one of them spoke to her, then she started ranting about how rude they were and how she would tell their mothers. I think after that one of the boys did actually say something rude to her and then they all skated off back to our place.
    We've stressed a thousand times it doesn't matter wether the persons female, with a kid, elderly or whatever and a thousand different scenarios.
    They are both teenagers now so we can say don't talk to the weirdo's before they leave the house and they both know what we mean.
    In the past when I've seen someone I think is creepy smiling at them I always explain why I think it feels weird or have moved on or ignored the person, they have thought I'm mean sometimes but honestly I can live with that - I think it's o.k to trust your instincts it may not always be right but it's better than than what could be the alternative.
    I don't think you should feel bad for keeping your kids close,especially when they're so little. xo

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  11. We were just telling our little boy this morning about the little girl lost in Sydney at the moment and how important it is not to run away from mum or dad ... ever. It seesm to resonate when it is about other kids. He doesn't need the details, the fear of being lost is enough. I'm with you - it scares me to my core. We're big on holding hands here.

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  12. this is terrible, whats happened ? i am a paniky person about chest colds in my kids..let alone something freaky like this. i dont think they should have to live in fear or know about the bad stuff people sometimes do. i say stickytape them to some part of your body and then you always know just where they are.xx

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  13. I always remember that James Bulger video when I'm in shopping centres too. And the scooting past driveways thing that Mary said too. I'm an anxious mummy at the best of times but really don't want to create an anxious child, just a careful one. It's hard isn't it!

    For my own anxiety I think making a plan helps me to deal with worrying- I liked the ideas in Nikki's comment- it's given me something to do apart from just worrying!

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  14. We can all only do what we think is right at any particular time. I would much rather go with my gut feeling than to ever be proven right. We are always telling our chidren tokeep themselves safe. (walking together as a family, carefully crossing driveways, not talking to people that make us feel uncomfortable etc). I have not allowed my kids to go for sleepovers in the past when not feeling good about the situation. I was made to feel very bad about my decision (the other parent) Recently when my five children were waiting for me outside a bakery, (with the youngest in a stroller & oldest 12years old) they were approached by an older man asking them how they were and what their names were etc . They didn't talk to him and they didn't know that he was an uncle of mine. I didn't care that he may have thought that they were being rude. I was proud that they had done what they were taught, to trust their feelings. This would have to be one of the hardest parts of being a parent, finding the balance of informing them of dangers to look after themselves..to givingthem some independence, at any age.

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  15. This really is a tricky one isn't it? I've talked to the girls about not talking to strangers because not everyone is nice but then my Miss 6 says to me "Why do you talk to strangers Mummy?" Gee I know I talk to strangers like if you are in the shops, I then had to think about whether I was doing the right thing. But they have been taught to only talk to others when we are around and to never give any person details like where they go to school. I suppose giving them as much information as they can cope with and watch them like a hawke, that's me! Good luck with the chat. xo

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  16. Great conversation topic Sal. There is such a fine line between letting kids have some independence and being able to keep an eye on them at the same time without, as you say, freaking them out about the twisted people that are out there. I have no suggestions, not having been through it myself but I'm very interestedly reading everyone else's.

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