“Stranger danger.” It’s short. It’s simple. It even rhymes! But it is not the most effective abduction prevention lesson for our children.
The concept of “stranger” may be difficult for kids. Many believe that strangers are mean, ugly people — so the nice man asking for help to find his lost puppy? Not a stranger.
Children also should learn that some strangers – like store clerks, police officers, or parents with children – can be helpful when they are in need. It may be hard for kids to understand the difference between strangers who could hurt them and strangers who may help them.
Most importantly, “stranger danger” ignores the fact that most children are abducted by someone they know. Avoiding strangers will not help if the abductor is a family member, neighbor, or family acquaintance. When you talk to your children about abduction prevention, don’t focus on warning them about certain types of people. Instead, teach them to identify and respond to threatening situations.