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Have you talked to your kids about stranger danger?

Posted by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 10:54 AM
  • 19 Replies

Stranger Danger and Other Things That Go Bump in the Night

Posted by Linda Sharps
on Aug 16, 2011

Her fingers were lifting the elastic in my son's underwear, and as she performed a quick, professional peer at his boyparts, she kept up a running commentary: "This is okay because your mom's here, only your parents and a doctor can look at your body, if anyone ever touches you or makes you uncomfortable, you should tell your mom or dad, okay?"

My son, who was 100 percent focused on the surprise round of pre-kindergarten vaccinations that were next on the agenda, nodded blankly. You could practically see the giant cartoon syringe reflected in his pupils.

The pediatrician patted my child comfortingly and allowed him to sit up and start pulling on his clothes. "Have you guys talked about stranger danger?" she asked.

"Um ..." I said. "We, uh. Not in a matter of ... well, no."

No, I haven't talked to my almost-6-year old about stranger danger. In fact, we were heading into a store the other day—myself, Riley, and my 3-year-old—and an elderly man who was coming in the automatic doors at the same time pointed a finger in their direction and said, "Want to come with me, boys? I've got some candy!" and cackled into my face, tickled pink at his little joke. Instead of reeling away in fear, which was clearly his hope (okay, maybe I'm selling him down a river, but SERIOUSLY, who DOES that?), both kids just stared in confusion, like what the hell, you're not my grandpa.


I guess it's time, right? It hasn't seemed critical before now, since I'm basically with them every second of the day, but Riley will be starting school in a few weeks. I suppose that's about the time you start worrying about twisted freaks who lure children into windowless vans. I suppose we need to talk about Inappropriate Touching, and Not Talking to Strange Adults, and basically starting the process of removing, layer by layer, that innocent belief that nothing can hurt them.


Riley has always been a bit of a hesitant kid, and he's only recently started talking to random people when we're out and about. Just yesterday he asked if he could talk to our neighbor, and came running back with the breathless announcement that the guy had given him permission to look in his yard whenever Riley lost a ball over there. And my brain went: hurrrrrrrrnk. Because I don't want him to live in a world where I'm not entirely sure if I should allow that or not.


(Maybe he can just be better about not throwing shit over the fence, right?)


He loves to call out "Hi!" to passing strangers, he loves to ask the guy at Home Depot what he's using that tape measure for. I hate the idea of squashing this new outgoing side of him. Of peeling back the world he knows, where everyone is perfectly happy to interact with him and would never in a million years do him harm, and give him a glimpse of what's underneath: a murky swirl of what-ifs. How can I give him confidence and caution at the same time? How can I tell my child that there are people who might try and touch him, or worse? How can this even be a thing that is true, because my god, my god.


There's so much I'm not ready for. Lately I suddenly feel this very real sense of this age, and everything that is sweet and innocent about it, running through my fingers like water.

by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 10:54 AM
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Replies (1-10):
splatz
by Sarah on Aug. 16, 2011 at 11:02 AM
I can totally relate. My son just started kindergarten. I've been trying to work with him on the whole "stranger danger" thing. But I don't think he gets it still. He just recently became more outgoing too.
*sigh*

Its a scary world we live in..
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Andeigh
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 11:07 AM

we do discuss stranger danger, but I'm a big believer that you have to be more careful of "creepy uncle bob" than a random stranger.  I teach them not to let their guard down around anyone, just because you think you know/trust someone, doesn't mean you can. 

Woodbabe
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM

No we don't do Stranger Danger, we do Good Touch, Bad Touch. As a parent its my job to make sure they're properly supervised at all times but I don't believe it teaching my kids that strangers are bad.

I teach them to speak to strangers....they ask the librarian for what they want, they place their own orders when we go out to eat, they speak when spoken to by other adults.

I think its far more important to have them comfortable with strangers....what if they are ever in a bad situation? Who would they ask for help from?

There's teaching personal safety and then there's taking it too far by turning everyone else into a bad guy. I just don't see that as healthy.

Code words are much more effective at keeping kids safe from those they don't know.

 Sexy If its unladylike, fattening or fun, I'm in!
  

MissLoveLyfe
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Yes, my kids are really friendly so, I try to teach them that not everyone has good intentions.. We talk about stranger danger all the time!!
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paganbaby
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Yes! This right here!

Quoting Woodbabe:

No we don't do Stranger Danger, we do Good Touch, Bad Touch. As a parent its my job to make sure they're properly supervised at all times but I don't believe it teaching my kids that strangers are bad.

I teach them to speak to strangers....they ask the librarian for what they want, they place their own orders when we go out to eat, they speak when spoken to by other adults.

I think its far more important to have them comfortable with strangers....what if they are ever in a bad situation? Who would they ask for help from?

There's teaching personal safety and then there's taking it too far by turning everyone else into a bad guy. I just don't see that as healthy.

Code words are much more effective at keeping kids safe from those they don't know.


bramamber
by Member on Aug. 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM
I agree with this!!


Quoting Andeigh:

we do discuss stranger danger, but I'm a big believer that you have to be more careful of "creepy uncle bob" than a random stranger.  I teach them not to let their guard down around anyone, just because you think you know/trust someone, doesn't mean you can. 


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othermom
by Silver Member on Aug. 16, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Yep we have, they have been told that they don't go any where with strangers, don't get in their car, talk to them, ect.  My daughter likes to talk to everyone we have told her it is okay to say hi to the people sitting next to her on the bench at the store while we are checking out with us there. Also if someone comes in to our yrd, they are to come to the door and get me, they are only allowed to open the door for certain people. ect

we also do about good touch. bad tough. That no one is allowed to touch their orivate areas. They now bath themselves so there is no reason except their doctor to check there

USAFamily
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 12:51 PM

 I teach stranger danger and appropriate touching. I've done it since my kids were old enough to talk. They aren't shy or terrified of people they don't know. They just know that it's not ok to go with or talk to adults they don't know and that when we are out in public or in a place unfamiliar they need to stay with me.

ecagle
by on Aug. 16, 2011 at 12:58 PM

 I got them the Bearenstein Bears books on strangers...great book ;)  It also gives a lot of great rules to kids about strangers!

Sara.Worthey
by Member on Aug. 16, 2011 at 2:21 PM
Since stranger danger has done more harm than good since it was introduced, and kids are more likely to be taken or harmed by someone they know, we do good touch, nobody touch. We also have rules about strangers as they get older, but even my oldest is too young to remember them so we are working on it subconsciously more at this point.
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