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Stranger Danger

Most kids are inherently trusting. They believe that everyone around them has their best interests at heart. But, as adults, we know this isn't always true. As much as we'd like to believe that our kids are safe from the dangers of the world, the only way they will truly be safe is if we give them the information and skills they need to protect themselves from harm. Unfortunately, this education should begin far too early.

Identifying Strangers

Most kids learn to define "stranger" pretty early. A stranger is someone they don't know. But, even if someone is a stranger, kids aren't necessarily wary of them. Kids tend to rely on facial expression and tone of voice to determine if someone is "nice." Someone with a smile that speaks to them nicely is often automatically trusted. Although dangerous strangers don't come with a sticker that identifies them as bad, kids can be taught to politely avoid all strangers.

Avoiding Dangerous Situations

Kids can identify dangerous situations better than they can identify dangerous people. Talk to your child about people who use tricks to get kids to do something and about how never to accept a ride or treat from a stranger. Warn kids about strangers who ask kids to keep a secret.

Instincts and Kids

There aren't too many adults who will be insulted by a kid who misinterprets a situation. Most adults respect a child's need to trust his or her instincts. Kids should be taught to avoid or leave situations that feel uncomfortable and speak to a trusted adult right away.

Safety in Numbers

Anyone, even adults, is safer in a group. Talk to kids about how to stick with friend when walking home, at the playground, or at a friend's house. Strangers intent on harming a child will usually target children who are alone or separated from a group. Whenever your child is in doubt, it's good to double check with mom, dad, or another trusted adult. If your child is in a situation where she is being asked to do something she's not quite sure about, make sure that she knows her best course of action is to ask an adult for permission.