Teach Your Child How to Stay Safe
‘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has traditionally been used in personal safety education for children, but over the years this strategy has become outdated and we have learned that it is ineffective in reducing a child’s risk of abduction and victimization.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.
Watch for individuals hanging around places where children play (e.g., parks, schools), but not accompanying or supervising any particular child(ren).
• If you notice a young child on their own, get involved. See if their parents are nearby, or call police or a child welfare agency to assist.
• If you notice an adult trying to take a child away from a public place or children’s area and you suspect something isn’t quite right, get involved. Simply drawing attention to the situation may be enough to stop a child abduction from happening.
• Be aware of an individual paying an unusual amount of attention to a child or children in your community.
• 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.
• Pay attention to children or youth who seem to be in distress, and seek help when necessary. If you have concerns about an individual as outlined above, contact the police immediately so they can investigate.