Stranger Safety Tips For Parents
The recent stories about child abductions or near abductions in our own Wyoming communities, and in Colorado, have the potential to strike fear into every parent, caretaker, and concerned citizen heart. An analysis by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children showed that approximately 35 percent of attempted abductions of children occurred when the child was going to and from school or school-related activities. The good news is there is something we can all do to prevent these incidents!
Education is the key in keeping our children safe. Teaching children about safety makes the difference. Parents and guardians need to talk to their children so they know what to do in a real life situation. The first step in this is to have open communication and proper education about who strangers are and what people in the child’s life are trusted adults. This communication should also continue through a child’s life and we should not assume that the message will be understood the same by a toddler as it would an adolescent.
Lynn A Storey-Huylar, Director of Safe Harbor, a children’s justice center in Cheyenne believes,
“Parents, caretakers and child care workers need to educate children on common lures used and how to react to these lures. Some of these include offering the child a ride, offering candy/money, asking children questions, and asking children to help them find a lost pet or for directions. It is ok to teach your children that if a stranger tries to take them somewhere, they can resist by kicking and screaming, running away and drawing attention by saying ‘this person is trying to take me away’ or ‘this person is a stranger!’Our greatest priority as a society should be to protect our children. Knowledge and education is the key for turning fear in to action.”
Allison Anderson, program manager of Prevent Child Abuse Wyoming, says
“There is never a right or wrong age to talk to children about how to deal with strangers. The world is constantly evolving and our conversations with kids have to evolve as well.”
There are numerous national resources that provide tips on how to talk to children about stranger safety, including www.childhelp.org, and www.missingkids.com, the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.