Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons – Author Unknown
Remember when you were a child how you used to blow bubbles and your face lit up with excitement when you got really big ones? Oh, the simple things in life that children enjoy. If only they could remain in their little world of wonder, exploration, discovery and innocence.
As a parent, I wish I could keep my son in a bubble where evil people didn’t exist. I wish he didn’t have to be told not to talk to or go anywhere with strangers. Growing up in Guyana, children could play in safety. When their parents weren’t around, neighbors would watch out for them. I lived in a bubble. There were so many things I didn’t know about or was exposed to. I never knew that sexual predators existed or ever heard about pedophilia until I moved to North America. Maybe those things existed but I wasn’t privy to them and I’m thankful for that because I don’t know how the knowledge would have affected my childish brain.
Is it foolish or naive to want to protect your children from what is out there? Are we helping them when we put off telling them about the dangers that exist? There are things I wish I never knew about but would I be any better off living in ignorance? Is ignorance really bliss? Not in this age when lack of knowledge and little or no awareness can make the difference between our safety and harm. Our children need to know that there are dangerous people out there who wouldn’t think twice about harming them or worse…
How do you tell them? You can do it in such a way that they don’t get scared or anxious. My ten year old suggests that the parent tell the child a story because a child would rather listen to a story than hear the message spoken plainly. This reminds me of Jesus who spoke to people in parables when He wanted to teach them valuable lessons.
Other ways to keep our kids safe when they are away from home, school, in the street, the park or playground are colouring pictures, quizzes, activities or stories. Having your child practice ‘Just say NO to strangers’ rule particularly through supervised role play gives him or her the confidence to deal if a stranger approaches and tries to trick them into getting into a car or pretends to have a lost dog or gift for the child.
To find websites that may help parents, teachers or caretakers to teach children about stranger danger and child protection, please click on this link. In the News clip featuring Safety Now – Stranger Danger, parents were disturbed to see how a friendly stranger was able to lure some children away to help him to find his lost dog. At the end of the video, the following tips are given:
- Don’t take you eyes off the child
- The child should back away
- The child should yell and run to a parent
Dr. Phil said that there are steps we can take to protect our kids without scaring them. Here are the steps:
- Talk to your kids early and often. Teach them to self-protect. Don’t be afraid that you’ll make them paranoid. Children actually feel empowered when they feel understand that they have the power to protect themselves.
- Don’t ask children to deal with adult issues. Explain things in terms they can understand, such as good and evil. Don’t share the gory details with them.
- Tell your kids to avoid strangers. Adults just don’t ask kids for directions.
- While it’s important for children to respect adults and those in authority, give them permission to act impolite, rude, or scream and yell when they feel that something’s not right. It’s OK for them to make a scene or to yell for help, and let them know they will not get in trouble if they were mistaken.
- Teach kids to yell with specificity: “This is not my Daddy!” or “Somebody help me!”
The safety of our children is our responsibility. They have a right to grow up and feel safe.