How worried do we really need to be in regards to “stranger abduction,” and in this day and age, how do we even begin to talk to our kids about strangers? You know, “Be nice to everyone and respect adults, but don’t talk to strangers.” You can see how this would easily confuse a young child. This very question came up the other day in a group text and I started thinking. I have not had an in-depth conversation with my 3 year old or 5 year old about this, and I instantly got very nervous. This is a conversation I don’t want to have because it is difficult, I don’t know what to say, and it is information that I hope my children never have to use, but nonetheless, it still needs to happen.
Some Facts Surrounding Child Abduction
I found an article on Parents.com that gave a quick run down on some facts that I found interesting. Essentially “stranger kidnapping” occurs in 27% of all kidnapping situations (that means 73% are done by family or acquaintances), the first contact between the child and stranger / abductor occurs within 0.25 miles of the family home, and 20% of victims of stranger abductions are not found alive. That last statistic is what terrifies most parents. So I asked around and found an approach that I thought would “fit” for our family and would make sense to my kids without confusing them.
The suggestion I got was to talk about people that are “tricky.” For some reason, this just made perfect sense to me. Tricky people:
- Are grownups or big kids that ask little people for help.
- Try to get you to leave your mom and dad.
- Try to give you something (treat, toy, etc.) if you help them with a problem.
- Try to get you to do something without mom or dad’s permission.
- Try to get you to keep a secret from your family.
With this approach you do not even use the term stranger. As parents, we need to face the facts and realize that strangers are not the ONLY people we need to worry about when it comes to our children.
After having this talk with my kids, they seem to have an understanding of what I am talking about. My suggestion is to ask around and see what your friends and family have done and find an approach that works for you.
HAVE THIS CONVERSATION AND HAVE IT OFTEN.
It is never too early or too late to talk to our kids about their safety and to make sure they are always aware and safe in their surroundings.