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Old 07-15-2011, 03:41 PM   #1
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When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

So at some point the parenting message has to change from "say hi, timmy. Say hi to the nice man." to "don't talk to strangers, don't get into a strangers car." etc. Now that DS is off to preK this fall I am not sure if he is ready, in this way, kwim?

About a year ago we started addressing the issue of "we don't pet strange dogs" and introducing the concept of "strange/r" when we are in the woods on the trails (there is alot of off-leash dog walking here). Recently I have expanded this concept to include people we don't know and labeling them as strangers. This has been easy and innocuous b/c it is mostly in response to his questions about why random people do random things ("I don't know why that man spit on the sidewalk, I don't know him or his name, he is a stranger.") How do I transition to the safety aspect of known/unknown people without scaring him?

[Despite how this appears I am not hung up on the word "Stranger" but struggling how to teach DS what he needs to know to be safe, even when he is still in the tiny and cute phase where random people approach and talk to us all the time and I encourage him to respond to them.]

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Old 07-15-2011, 04:01 PM   #2
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What about distinguishing between when he is with you/dh/trusted family member or friend, or when he is "alone". Not that I'm assuming you allow your lo to roam freely, but just explaining that if you aren't right there with him, he shouldnt speak to strangers.
Maybe alone isn't the right word, but more like if he can't confirm with you via eye contact/signal you have decided on that it's ok to speak to this "stranger" then he doesn't.
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Old 07-15-2011, 05:49 PM   #3
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Re: When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

Don't mean to be negative or start anything, but a child is more likely to be abducted or hurt by someone in their own community that they have seen before or even know well then they are a stranger. Stranger Danger is a good thing to teach, but it can give kids a false security-kwim? Mr Jones lives down the street, we're not friends but he's not a stranger either, so its ok to help him look for his puppy. I would include warning against that kind of thing too.

We haven't addressed this at all yet (dogs yes, but not with people). DD is kind of anti social and is never away from me. I guess its time we start too.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:48 PM   #4
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Re: When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

it is my understanding that they don't teach "stranger danger" anymore. what the PP said about being abducted (and also molested) by someone the know is so much higher. It is also confusing to a child....I remember when my teens were little, "don't talk to strangers" and "the cashier asked you a question, sweetie" were conflicting. Plus, if they are lost or you passed out in the park, etc, you would want him to talk to strangers to get help! Most strangers aren't bad, so it's a hard thing. I think if you talk to your DS about what things are ok to talk about and when? Like it's ok to talk to people you don't know when you are with mommy, or to ask for help if you are lost and alone, but it's not ok to go anywhere with ANYONE (or let them touch you or you touch them, etc) except, "mom, dad, grandma" (or whomever you say is ok and they have the code word or whatever). it's a difficult decision to make in regards to teaching him safety
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:15 PM   #5
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Re: When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

I always did it that you don't talk anyone you don't know unless mommy or daddy are around. We didn't really push on the label of stranger. We did use the word but not push it. I would say it is ok to say Hi since mommy is here, etc. We also have elaborated more who you can trust and not trust, IE Cop, fireman, Dr you can trust if you need to find help/are lost. Just any neighbor(even if met before), strangers, etc can't trust. Friends of mommy's and daddy's you can trust. We also added her friends mom as you could then.
It just evolved for us.
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Old 07-15-2011, 08:10 PM   #6
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Re: When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

I would focus on what he can do.....for instance, explaining that it is okay to say hi to someone that mommy and daddy say hi to first.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:40 PM   #7
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I would check out the book "protecting the gift" by Gavin... darn, I can't remember his last name. He talks about stranger danger and how it's not really something that should be taught like when we were kids. It's more important to help kids discover who and why they should be leery of, not to steer clear of all strangers. Oh, and if they get lost, they should try to find a woman/mother. He goes into further detail for the reasons, which I think are all competent valid and make a lot of sense.
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Old 07-16-2011, 03:27 PM   #8
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Re: When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

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Don't mean to be negative or start anything, but a child is more likely to be abducted or hurt by someone in their own community that they have seen before or even know well then they are a stranger. Stranger Danger is a good thing to teach, but it can give kids a false security-kwim? Mr Jones lives down the street, we're not friends but he's not a stranger either, so its ok to help him look for his puppy. I would include warning against that kind of thing too.
Yes this. Much more likely to be assaulted/molested/abducted by their friend's dad, their uncle, soccer coach, sunday school teacher etc. I teach good and bad touch, and empower them to say no to anyone who is trying to touch their body in a way they are uncomfortable with. Stranger Danger did a HUGE disservice to a whole generation of kids. (I am a former police officer).
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Old 07-16-2011, 06:44 PM   #9
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Re: When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

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Originally Posted by thaisa47 View Post
I would check out the book "protecting the gift" by Gavin... darn, I can't remember his last name. He talks about stranger danger and how it's not really something that should be taught like when we were kids. It's more important to help kids discover who and why they should be leery of, not to steer clear of all strangers. Oh, and if they get lost, they should try to find a woman/mother. He goes into further detail for the reasons, which I think are all competent valid and make a lot of sense.
Excellent book, I was going to suggest it too!
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Old 07-16-2011, 11:01 PM   #10
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Re: When/how to introduce "Stranger danger"

I should look into that book, sounds good.

I was going to say that I know my kids were taught stranger danger probably in preschool?

But I'm also kinda paranoid or very aware of that and have mentioned it a few times.


I have told them not to talk to strangers, if they get lost to go to someone who works in the store, I must remember to say another mom too. I've also told them if anyone tries to get them to leave the store, take them anywhere to kick and scream and yell stranger.

I just say that most people are good, but there are some people out there who are not good people.


I once had a man quickly take a picture of my then 3 yr old son(he's very good looking IMO) to "show" how his camera phone worked and it really freaked me out for a long time. I hate people taking pictures at the pool too, you can never tell which kid they are snapping.


This week we were at a amusement park and my 5 yr old innocently asked a man with his son if he was going on the ride. DH and I watched him and then said..."why were you talking to a stranger?" and he burst into tears. Think they kinda forget sometimes. I didn't want to scare him, just wanted to remind him.

My neighbour has had a lot of running/hiding issues with her son who's 7 and told him about the 8 yr old boy in NY. Probably depends on how your child is too, esp if they are always running off.


I also have NEVER made my kids kiss people goodbye even family members much to their disdain. It's more important to me that the kids know they don't HAVE to do that(or other stuff) just because they are family.
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