It's not about "stranger danger"
‘Stranger danger’ has traditionally been used in personal safety education for children, but over the years this strategy has become outdated and we have learned that it is ineffective in reducing a child’s risk of abduction and victimization. Here’s why:
1. The concept of a ‘stranger’ is difficult for children to understand.
2. In certain situations children may need to approach someone they don’t know (i.e., a ‘stranger’) for help.
3. Children are more likely to be abducted by someone they know or have come in contact with (i.e., not a ‘stranger’). Rather than focusing on stranger danger, it is far more effective to teach children not to go anywhere with anyone without first getting permission from their parent/guardian. This reinforces to children that the duty of supervision lies with parents/guardians, as opposed to leaving it up to them to assess motives of individuals.
Online safety for children/youth
- If your child or a child you know tells you about someone they met online who made them feel uncomfortable, report the information to police or Cybertip.ca — Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. While your child made the right decision by telling you, the next child approached online by the same individual may not feel they can tell a safe adult and may be victimized as a result.
- If you are concerned about inappropriate online communication between your child and an adult or youth, outside support or guidance may be required. If you believe your child is being exploited, it is important to contact your local police, or call 9-1-1 if the child is in immediate danger. You can also report directly to cybertip.ca/report or call Cybertip toll free at 1-866-658-9022.
- In Canada, unwanted online sexual attention directed to children and youth has been increasing significantly since 2021. Offenders are using tactics such as humiliation and controlling behaviours to target youth.
- In many cases youth are not telling anyone what is happening. Many fear being victim‑blamed, are ashamed, and don't know what to do.
- If youths have a sexual photo or video of themselves being shared by peers, and want to know how to get the image removed from social media, Needhelpnow.ca is a good resource. It has step-by-step instructions for youth on how to get images removed from a variety of social media.
- Canadian Centre for Child Protection - a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children focused on reducing sexual abuse and exploitation of children. The charity , assist in the location of missing children, and prevent child victimization through a number of programs, services, and resources for Canadian families, educators, child-serving organizations, law enforcement, and other parties.
- DontGetSextorted.ca - A resource for parents, educators and teens and tweens about what sextortion is, and how to prevent it. Uses humour, and provides fabulous images of naked mole rats.
- ZoeAndMollyonline - A website for parents and educators, with activities aimed at children, helping them navigate online gaming safely.
Overall, parents and guardians please pay attention to children or youth who seem to be in distress, and seek help when necessary. If you have concerns about an individual, contact the police immediately so they can investigate.