Never Talk To Strangers

We’ve all been told to never talk to strangers and we probably all said the exact same thing to our kids. Easy to remember, right? Or maybe not so much. Especially when we also teach the kids not to be rude. So what is it now? Which one to consider? Should they be polite and answer questions as long as the person asking seems nice and polite and actually not dangerous? Or should they follow the don’t talk to stranger rule?

I totally see why kids get confused, also given the fact, that they just can’t see the bad side to a person. How would they? They are protected and their world is perfectly intact. Most of the time, at least. And children are curious. Hard enough as it is. And if you add a cute puppy to the mix it gets even harder.

Now the problem is, that as much as you try to teach your children to be careful and safe, there is always something that can trigger another reaction. Or a seriously mean trick like dressing up as police officer and telling the child that the parents had an accident and that the kid has to come with him/her to go see them. I thought long and hard about the idea of a password. But then, what do you do, when there is really an accident and the person who has to come and pick up the kids is in fact a police officer and does of course not know the password.

What do you teach your child? How can you keep them as safe as possible? It’s scary, how far people go and what kind of tricks you need to kind of consider in order to cover it all. And it’s hard to find the right way to teach your kids without scaring them or confusing them.

I think my kids are really good. They are smart and we taught them everything we could think of. They do martial arts, so they pick up some tricks there too. And still there is this grey zone. The point, where I just don’t know if they would not fall for it, just because they want to go help. Or something is just to cute or something that just makes sense to them and seems okay. And it scares the hell out of me.

I guess there is less risk as we home-school. Still they are doing things with their friends and you just never know. There is this little margin. This little crack everything can fall through and we just can’t do anything about it. And even if you would be the most paranoid helicopter parent, something could still go wrong. And it’s scary.

I guess all we can do is hope that everything goes well, that they are smart enough to maybe be polite but not fall for a trick and to trust their instincts, their gut feeling. That they trust us enough to understand that it has nothing to do with control but with the dangers out there. And that they unfortunately start realizing that not everyone means well.

35 thoughts on “Never Talk To Strangers

  1. This is a very difficult subject! I have exactly the same concerns as you just voiced. We can only talk to them and give them examples of what could happen, imagining different scenarios. And hope for the best.

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  2. I’m shaking my head. Children are more likely to be harmed by adults they know — family members, neighbors, friends of the family, etc. — than by strangers. How do you teach a child to be safe when she’s being fondled by an older brother, next-door neighbor, or stepfather?

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      • My novel in progress is about the rescue of a dog and the rescue of an 11-year-old girl. The rescue of the dog is a lot easier. So is writing about it. I grew up in an alcoholic, psychologically abusive family, and over the years I’ve heard probably hundreds of stories from adult survivors of incest and sexual abuse, but I’m finding it very, very hard to imagine the girl’s point of view: who can she trust? how can she tell who’s trustworthy? And the adults who begin to suspect that something’s not right have a hard time too. Mandatory reporting laws often make things worse, because the authorities may not be trustworthy or they’re just not equipped to protect the child.

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      • That’s a good question. Survivors do manage to trust again, so I’m taking hope from that. Also I’m stacking the deck in the girl’s favor — I get to do this because I’m the writer 😉 — by putting people in her way who can be trusted. But it’s still not easy. So many of us, children and adults, know more than we should have to know, but we keep putting one foot in front of the other, and maybe we find ways to put that knowledge to good use. Here’s hoping!

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  3. I think that it never makes sense to keep children from dealing with difficult and maybe dangerous things. I believe that it is much more important to teach or show them how to deal with them. This is regarding your topic but also regarding using the TV, Playstation, Cellphone, issues with others, loss,… or simple things like climbing up a tree. When we always tell them how bad, scary and dangerous everything is they never know how to handle it and in the end are endangered.

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  4. That particular social experiment scares the crap out of me. I watched my daughter like a hawk when she was little. Still do kinda’ – “Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be home, etc.” and thank God for iPhone apps that show me exactly where she is when she is on a road trip. I wrote a post today about getting into a red sports car with a stranger when I was a young adult.

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  5. This is a post very close to my heart. Yes this is scary, but it is easier for us parents to warn our children about stranger danger than it is to warn them about friends and family, because the sad facts are that one in four will be subjected to some sort of sexual assault, 90% by someone they know and over 80% never tell anyone, as I know to my cost. Knowledge is the key to keeping our children safe, real knowledge not just stranger danger.
    I did a post on it once here…

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  7. It’s a tough one, this. I live in a country where police can’t be trusted and people/strangers generally love kids and they don’t think twice whisking your kids away to babysit For you A nice gesture, but something I don’t condone. It freaks me out – what if!!

    I read somewhere to teach the child of using password only u and the child knows and can remember. So if a kind stranger claims he/she is going to take the child to the parents, the child will ask for the password from the stranger. Wrong and she can’t follow! I thought it was a neat trick. And I’m currently doing this password thing with my daughter. Hope we don’t ever hv to get to that.

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    • Yes, I’ve heard about it too. But you have to relate on the child to not mention the password to anyone. I remember a couple of years ago a friend of my son explained to me that they are having a password too and without even asking he happily shared it with me… Plus: Of what I heard the idea is too that there is one more person besides you (and I guess your partner) that knows the password in the case that you might bot be able to go get the kids. Right?


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