Stranger danger and tricky people

March 13, 2018

Stranger danger. That was the phrase growing up that we were taught (and it rhymed, so that helps). But I’ve felt uncomfortable with the concept of telling my kids that all strangers are ‘bad’ people who can’t be trusted. The majority aren’t.
Over the weekend, a man approached Phoebe in a hotel lobby and tried to get her attention by doing a magic trick. He then asked her for a kiss, and I stood, horrified, as she moved towards him. I took her hand and told her that we only kissed family and friends, and laughed it off, while feeling slightly sick. 

A friend had told me recently about the term ‘tricky people’ and it really resonated with me. That we all have an instinct about someone, and that they give us a feeling, good or bad. Since then, I’m trying to explain to my three-year-old that a tricky person might be someone we know, or someone we meet, who makes us uncomfortable or gives us a ‘thumbs down’ feeling. It’s hard to explain.

We need to teach our kids what’s okay and what’s not, and what to do when safety rules are broken. 

Pattie Fitzgerald from Safely Ever After, recommends these guidelines: 

• I am the boss of my body!
• I know my name, address and phone number and my parents’ names too (don’t forget: kids need to know their parents’ mobile phone numbers)
• Safe grownups don’t ask kids for help (they go to other grown ups if they need assistance)
• I never go anywhere or take anything from someone I don’t know
• I must “check first” with my safe-smarts grown-up for permission before I go anywhere, change my plans, or get into a car even if it’s with someone I know. If I can’t check first, then the answer is NO!
• Everybody’s bathing suit areas are private
• I don’t have to be polite if someone makes me feel scared or uncomfortable. It’s okay to say no even to a grown-up if I have to
• I don’t keep secrets especially if they make me feel scared or uneasy (no adult should tell a child to keep a secret)
• If I ever get lost in a public place, I can freeze and yell or go to a mum with kids and ask for help
• I will always pay attention to my special inner voice, especially if I get an “uh-oh” feeling.
How do you explain this to your kids?

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