Stranger Danger for Young Children
Stranger Danger by Age
Despite the title of this post, I actually do not believe you should teach your child the typical “stranger danger” that you were probably taught.
Do you know what you should teach instead? You should teach your child the signs of a child predator and the dangerous situations that they need to watch out for.
This is not the typical “Don’t talk to strangers,” lesson you know so well, it goes beyond that. You will have to use your own discretion on what your child is old enough to understand. It is best to start teaching them stranger danger when they are very young so it becomes second nature to them.
Remember to tell them the rules of “Stranger Danger” at every opportunity you have so it easy for them to remember. Practice makes perfect, right?
Before you teach your child stranger danger you need to know this important stranger danger fact:
****90% of children are abducted and/or abused by someone they know.****
We can no longer only say, “Don’t talk to strangers,” and then just leave it at that. This is 2018, we have to dig deeper to protect our children from child predators. Technology, lack of supervision and our busy lives has made it easier than ever for child predators to find out children.
You may find a better way to word these things because you know your child better than anyone else. Just remember to introduce these rules at the basic level and then build off of that.
IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY TO TEACH YOUR CHILD SAFETY TECHNIQUES!
90% of children are abducted/abused by someone they know, NOT strangers!
18 Stranger Danger Tips
I’m using the term “stranger danger” ONLY because that is the term that people think of when we think of teaching child safety but really child safety goes beyond the old “Stranger Danger” Education.
Stranger Danger Tips
1. Only Mommy and Daddy are allowed to touch your penis or vagina.
Depending on the age, you could also add, change your underwear, diaper, pull up ect. In my opinion it is important to also teach them the name of their private parts for 2 reasons.
- If anything were to happen they could be specific when they’re asked to describe it by law enforcement.
- They will know the specific places that other people should not touch.
- If you don’t teach them now when they’re older they will be embarrassed to say it out loud….even as an adult…just trust me on this one.
You may want to include the doctor, babysitter or ____________(Aunt Karen) in this.) If you add the doctor to this, make sure to say that it is only okay for the doctor to check your penis or vagina when you are in the doctor’s office.) For example, a child could say, “Mommy said only her and the doctor can touch my penis.” The predator could say, “Oh don’t worry, I AM a doctor.”
2. Teach them to say, “NO!” If someone wants to touch their genitals.
Teach them exactly what their private parts are. Show them specifically where they are by pointing to them, if you haven’t already done this.
Again, make sure to let your child know that it is okay for ________ (Aunt Karen) to change their pull up, wash them in the bath ect.
In some states, saying “No,” could be the difference between a longer jail sentence or not. (That is usually for victims of rape but hey it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, we all know the scenario of young children playing doctor together. It’s just a good thing to teach them anyway.)
3. Tell them that it is not a game if someone wants to touch their private parts.
Some sex offenders use the line “playing a game” to encourage the child to participate willingly. Everyone knows that kids love games.
Children, even though they are small and not fully developed are still sexual beans. They can still get those same “good feelings” when they are touched. Predators sometimes use this to their advantage and start slow. (You’ll all seen toddlers playing with their penis….yes, because it does feel good to them.)
Some parents have made this mistake by accident when explaining sex to children. “It is a game that mommy and daddy play but it’s only for adults.” (I know it sounds weird but I have heard it all as a former foster parent.) If you are ever “caught” in the act by your child, PLEASE DO NOT tell them that it’s a game.
4. Teach them that they are not allowed to keep secrets from mommy and daddy.
Here, you can be more specific if you like; If someone touches your penis or vagina you have to tell mommy, you can’t keep it a secret.
For example, Christmas presents and birthday gifts are SURPRISES, NOT SECRETS. You really should refer to secrets as something negative because young children cannot always distinguish between a good secret and a bad secret. Surprises are good and secrets are bad.
(This depends on how young your child is exactly. Sometimes it’s just better to keep these directions as simple as possible so your child will remember it better.)
Keep things as black and white as you can when they are very young.
5. “If someone touches your penis (or vagina) tell mommy and daddy right away.”
(It is very good to restate this rule in different ways so your child can grasp a deeper understanding.)
It’s not good enough to tell them “Do not keep secrets.” You have to be specific. Children cannot always comprehend what a stranger is or what a secret is. They have to know exactly what they need to tell you. Otherwise, they might leave it out.
6. Tell them not to let anyone take pictures of their private parts.
Sometimes this is also called a “game.” Tell them this is NOT a game. You only take pictures with your clothes on.
7. Tell them not to touch anyone else’s private parts.
(Another “game.”) It is easier for predators to “beat the system” this way. It may not seem wrong to a child because THEY are not being touched…they are doing the touching.
8. Teach them not to talk to ANYONE unless they ask you first, no matter what.
(Teach them what and who strangers are.) In the car when you are driving you can say, “Do you see that person on the sidewalk? Do you know that person? No, you do not know that person, she is a stranger.” Remember, child predators are NOT JUST MALE, they can be female too.
Make a game out of it, kids love games and they respond really well to them. It makes it a lot easier for them to remember because they are not just being told what the answer is, they are figuring it out themselves and having fun while doing it. Children cannot naturally understand what a stranger is. Children think that strangers are mean and scary like they see on the movies.
I CHALLENGE YOU TO ASK YOUR CHILD WHAT A STRANGER LOOKS LIKE AND THEN COMMENT WHAT THEIR ANSWER IS BELOW. (You will find out that I am right!)
In reality, strangers are everywhere. This is why we cannot only teach stranger danger anymore, it’s far too broad of a spectrum. We have to teach personal safety. This means, we have to teach them how to keep their bodies safe from other people not ONLY people they do not know. We also have to teach our children to keep their minds safe by explaining to them the tactics that child predators use. A lot of times, when a child sees a person, they are no longer strangers anymore. When you talk to a person in the grocery store; you “know” them. They are not a stranger anymore. Children think when you know someone they know them too. In your mind, you know that you just spoke to a stranger, but in your child’s mind…they don’t know that.
9. “Do not get in the car with anyone no matter what they say.”
If someone wants you to go with them you have to ask mommy or daddy first. (You could add; because they might take you away or something along those lines. Please, please, remember not to scare your children. You want them to know it is dangerous but you don’t want them afraid of every person they see.)
10. “If someone tries to give you candy, puppies, money or anything run to mommy and daddy.”
You could say something like; They might be trying to trick you so you have to ask mommy or daddy. Predators offer children something they want to make them seem like they are a kind person even though their intentions are bad.
11. “If someone says mommy and daddy don’t love you anymore, it is not true. It is a lie.”
Predators sometimes tell children, “If you tell your parents about our game they wont love you anymore. They will think you are bad and send you away.” (Again, you don’t have to say these exact things, you don’t want to scare your kids. Just more good information.) Children have to know what to watch out for or they will be ignorant about safety.
12. “If someone tries to give you a toy ask mommy and daddy first. They could be trying to trick you so you have to ask mommy first.”
13. “If a stranger pulls up in a car and talks to you, don’t talk to them just run to mommy and daddy.
14. Teach them; if a person tries to grab you or pick you up and take you, yell for HELP as loud as you can.
It is important you teach your child to yell for HELP or yell STRANGER. Think about it, kids throw tantrums all the time. If a kid just screams then they can easily be mistaken for a kid throwing a fit. If they yell HELP or STRANGER people will immediately pay attention.
If a person tries to grab them, tell them to kick, yell, bite, scream, pull hair and hurt them anyway they can. Do not try and be nice. Tell them to be mean and fight as hard as they can!
With my girls, (when they were a little older) I taught them a few personal safety moves. I told them first and foremost, run away and scream help. If they can’t do that- fight.
I taught them different ways to get away. I would walk up and grab them from behind and teach them how they can get out of it. I told them to kick a man in the balls, poke eyes, punch the nose, bite-anything that they could. Sometimes you have to show them to do these things because they don’t naturally want to hurt someone. They may not think that poking someone in the eyes is a good option. Show them! Tell them to hit the child predator in the throat. If a man puts you over his shoulder, punch him in the kidneys. ANYTHING!
15. Teach them the stranger danger song, you can find it at the end of this post.
16. Have them color stranger danger worksheets or a stranger danger coloring book. You can also find those at the end of the post.
17. If someone says to them, “Mommy and daddy want me to take you home,” run away, don’t go. Tell them to scream for help. Only mommy, Daddy or ________(Aunt Karen) can pick you up from ____________ (school, soccor, ballet)
18. “If a person calls you by name and you don’t know them run away.”
If you don’t know someone and they talk to you, run to mommy and daddy no matter what. Sometimes, kids forget if they know someone. When someone calls them by name they think, this person knows me so I must know them. You also need to include if someone they don’t know ASKS them what their name is.
KIDS DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW ADULTS THINK! IF AN ADULT SAYS THEIR NAME, THE CHILD ASSUMES THAT THE ADULT KNOWS THEM!
Techniques Strangers use to Lure Children
Review: Here are some techniques strangers use to lure children.
- The stereotypical; Do you want some candy?
- I have a puppy, Do you want to come see it? Or different variations of that. (A man tried that on my daughter.)
- I found this necklace(item) is it yours?
- Where are your mommy and daddy? The child answers “They’re inside sleeping, there in the bathroom ect.” This gives a predator the information he/she needs to know if they have enough time to snatch a child.
- Do you want to be my friend and play on the swing set with me?
- I’m your Mommy’s friend, she told me to come pick you up and take you home.
- There is an emergency! Mommy and daddy got hurt, come with me right now and I’ll take you to them.
- I’m your uncle, mommy said you need to come to my house because she has to go to the store.
- Hey do you like my car? You can come take a ride in it if you want to.
- Come here right now or I will kill you.
- Come with me or I will hurt mommy and daddy.
- You are so pretty, where did you get that dress? Come here so I can take a better look at it.
- I have this ice cream cone; do you want some? Tell them that anytime that a stranger talks to YOU, wait until they leave and explain to them not to talk to strangers unless mommy or daddy says its ok.
You can use these examples to teach your children how smart strangers are. Tell them no matter what the person says you run to mommy and daddy (or run home if they’re playing in the yard or street). Don’t believe them they are lying and want to take you away from us. (Use your discretion so you don’t scare them.)
Tips and Tools for Stranger Danger Education
It’s a great idea that anytime that a stranger talks to YOU, wait until they leave and explain to them not to talk to strangers unless mommy or daddy says its ok. Then, you can remind them of these activities that you can do together.
Here are some top rated books about body safety and strangers.
- You Are Amazing is a great coloring book and activity book that teaches body safety through coloring and activity pages.
- Cautious Kids is an audio book about stranger danger, it’s actually really good. You can put it on in the car on the way to daycare, school or on a long road trip.
- Watch this excellent Stranger Danger DVD on Stranger Danger Education. It is fun, silly and great for all ages.
- Sing the stranger danger song on your way to the park, school, ballet ect.
- (I find the youtube “Stranger Danger” song to be a little annoying BUT the mp3 version is really good. The Ultimate Kids Song Collection is like a story put into a catchy song. Click on Image)
Stranger Danger Education
Stranger Danger for Adults
1. Keep your young child close to you and always tell them to stay where you can see them.
2. Don’t leave you child with someone that shows signs of predatory behavior even if it is a family member.
Don’t leave them with anyone that gives you a “funny” feeling. That is called discernment, listen to the little voice in your head even if you have no reason to feel that way.
******90% of children who are sexually abused (or abducted) are abused by someone they know, not strangers*****
3. Don’t let your kids out of your sight until they are old enough to have these rules memorized and they can recite them every time you ask.
4. Do not write their name on back packs or clothing.
(This makes it very easy for a stranger to convince a child that they know them or that mommy and daddy know them. Ex. “Josh…Josh…hi your mommy told me you are in trouble if you don’t get home right now. Come on, I’ll take you home so you don’t get in anymore trouble.”
5. Do not share personal information about your children ANYWHERE
This includes sharing with your friends, co-workers or places sites on the internet. Never disclose where your child goes to school or attends extra curricular activities. Do not post status updates that include the time and/or place you are going to get your child. Do not post your location publicly. Do not allow others to tag you when you are attending your child’s events.
Do not disclose the times when you will be away from home or when your child will be with a babysitter or at daycare. Other people do not supervise your children as well as you do, it’s that simple. They do not have the deep connection and fierce protective instinct that you do.
Lastly, read my great post about how to keep your children safe from predators. It’s right here.
***remember do not scare your children. Use age appropriate discretion and don’t instill fear. You can use different variations of these if you think of any, remember the key is to use repetitive scenarios so they remember them. Don’t overdo it at one time. Bring these things up randomly. Let them come to their own conclusions and bring it up again. Ask them lots of question so they have to think about it. Turn it into a fun game.
Keep your children...
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