Stranger Proofing Works: Just Ask This 10-Year-Old

It was many parents’ worst nightmare.  But it proved conclusively to these parents and others that “stranger-proofing” your child is so very worth it.

Some months back, a 10-year-old Canadian girl was approached at her elementary school by a man in a vehicle.  The man explained he’d been sent by the girl’s mother to pick her up, but failed to provide a code word the family had come up with together.  She immediately ran back to her school.

Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual story; according to the Department of Justice, some 2,000 children disappear a day in the US.  This one had a happy ending, but most child abductions don’t end as well.

Where this story differs is in the simple rule most parents try to teach their children – don’t talk to strangers.  As it turns out, these parents chose just the right approach.  Here are some tips to help you raise the topic of “stranger danger,” with your kids.

  • Pick a code word to be a secret between you, your child and anyone who would pick them up if you’re unavailable.
  • Show your children safe places.  Let them know where to turn if they’re in trouble, and point out safe spots to play and safe roads to take.
  • Ensure they carry your contact information on them at all times.
  • Teach your kids to say “no.”  Let them know they won’t be in trouble if they assert themselves to an adult.
  • Encourage your children to play with others.  There is safety in numbers.
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