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"Stranger Danger"

Contrary to popular belief, children are more likely to be abused or abducted by people known to them than strangers. It makes the concept of stranger danger not as simple as telling children to fear strangers. Therefore, it's more appropriate and effective to teach children to observe strange behavior other than overblowing the concept that all strangers are bad.

A situation doesn't need to be strange to be dangerous. Numerous times, these children are abused by people already in their lives, people their parents might entrust them to occasionally. People like friends, guardians, relatives, and even neighbors.

Below are essential tips for teaching your children:

  1. Not all strangers are abusers, so watch out for strange behavior, even from people already in your life.

  2. Anyone can be an offender - A fellow minor, a relative, or a female. Contrary to how we have been taught that the probability was an adult male stranger and strange looking.

  3. Consent is necessary - It is essential to teach children as early as possible that they control what and who can touch their bodies and how and when to leave an uncomfortable situation.

  4. Talk it out - Children must be encouraged to tell an adult when someone touches them or says inappropriate things. And also to be empowered to say no in such situations.

  5. Strong children-parent relationship - Parents need to respect and also find out more information when their children say they don't want to ride in someone's car or don't want to play with someone. Children may not know about abuse upfront but may understand uncomfortable behavior.

These tips help children be more aware of what is happening around them, other than looking out for strangers. And we are not disputing that strangers can harm children. It can happen, but not all strangers are bad because strangers can be in a position to help children in case they are lost and there is no familiar face around.

We need to teach children that danger can come from anywhere and anyone. And consent is a fundamental concept, and children must protect themselves from a wide range of strange behaviors and look out for the right person to go to in case of distress.

Parents need to recognize that not paying attention and teaching their children about the correct concept of stranger danger can lead to lifelong trauma, which can amount to years of therapy, among other adverse effects.

It's also important to teach them in a way that will not scare them. Parents can roleplay different situations for the children so that they practice protecting themselves when they're on their own. Through this, they learn to trust their instincts and how to react when they feel uncomfortable.

When parents or guardians support their children's instincts, they learn not to be ashamed and talk to an adult in case of an incident.

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