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ParentingTip: Talk to Your Children about Strangers, A Parents Guide

Tips for talking to your child about strangers

Here are some things to keep in mind as you talk to your son or daughter:

  • Explain that although strangers could be “bad,” most are not. Conversely, most children are victimized by familiar people; that’s why it’s important for kids to determine if the behavior, rather than the person, is bad.
  • Use “what-if” scenarios and take advantage of “teachable moments” – such as when a kidnapping makes the evening news.
  • Give your children permission to be impolite. They may need to be to get out of a threatening situation.
  • Explain to them that responsible adults should never ask a child for assistance. That way they won’t fall for excuses such as “I need help finding my puppy.”
  • Don’t assume older children (adolescents and teenagers) are in less danger by virtue of their age and maturity. They are often at increased risk because they have more freedom and independence. Don’t hesitate to go over the rules with them anytime they’re going to be out or alone in the house.
  • Always make sure you have “safety nets” in place. Make sure your children know who can help them in a threatening situation – and give them specific instructions (emergency numbers, phone numbers, addresses) for reaching those people.

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