I am completely in favor of teaching kids to be safe from strangers. We have all seen these type of hidden camera tests where a reputable TV show will see if they can lure a child away from their location – often a park. But on these shows, no one every actually TAKES the child away.
Last week, however, this story hits the news and am in shock. What were these people thinking. What they put this child through for the sake of “teaching” is insane! Police: 6-year-old boy ‘kidnapped’ for being too nice to strangers – CNN.com.
I myself worried about how to teach the concept of stranger danger to my oldest child who was getting old enough to start school, ride the bus, and have playdates at other kids’ houses. It is scary for any parent to think about the bad things that could happen to your kids in the real world. But it is inevitable that you have to let them go – let them grow and become independent.
I started researching books on Amazon.com and came across one that I absolutely LOVE and think the message is taught in a way that really makes sense to young children. Pattie Fitzgerald writes the Super Duper Safety School Book where she tackles stranger danger by describing “tricky people” and their tactics to trick kids into unsafe situations. There are other smart, practical lessons in the book too – like what to do if you get separated from your parents.
We started reading this book and discussing it with our daughter at four years old. It made sense to her without being scary. And we make it a point to bring the book back out and re-read it together periodically. We want our kids to feel confident, rather than panicked, if they should find themselves in a bad situation.
And then I hear this sad story about this six-year-old in Missouri. We can now only hope that he has the proper care to recover from such a terrifying situation that his family (who should be his protectors) put him through in the name of safety.
What was your reaction to this family’s safety lesson in Missouri?
Do you have other books or strategies that have worked well for you family to learn about safety or stranger danger?