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Saturday, February 04 2023
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Stranger safety rules: Guide for parents

Know you child
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Starting from the womb till birth, an infant is securely protected by everyone. Even after birth all the developmental milestones are meticulously observed so that the child would not get hurt and of course, he/she is loved and all the needs are taken care of. When a child attempts to touch or do dangerous things that are harmful, he/she is always cautiously monitored and sometimes explained the consequences to him/her. For instance “don’t touch the jug, it’s hot” or “Don’t throw stones, you will get hurt if it bounces back.” Otherwise, children learn their lessons by trial and error method. However, there are certain things that need to be explained by us and frequently reminded so that children are aware of issues that can happen in the absence of parents or caretakers.

So, let us explore one such issue on strangers safety.

By the way who are strangers? And why are they dangerous?

Usually, strangers are the ones whom we don’t know. Does that mean all strangers are dangerous? No. There are few strangers who are safe, for example; Doctors, Policemen or Firefighters.

Therefore, what to do when children encounter such situations and how to make them understand those odd situations.

When children ask questions like, why strangers are dangerous and what if they try to harm us and how do we know they are dangerous to us, the children barely have an idea of strangers or things related to them. So when you communicate with children, especially with preschoolers let them at least know about their parent’s name, contact number and address.

With elementary school-age children, you can explain the safety rules by enacting situations or by role-playing scenarios as they are aware of the concept of right and wrong.

With teenagers, since they know the consequences of potential threats by the stranger, instead of acting cool, they can take possible actions during tough situations like informing an adult or activating fight or flight mode (Use of self-defensive mechanisms).

Let us understand a few simple techniques to teach stranger safety rules:

1) Not all strangers are dangerous

Of course, there are some safe strangers whom we can trust in certain situations. But there is always a rule to remember, even from them is, adults do not seek help from children in instances like finding the address or unknown places and they are self-sufficient. They can assist them by verbalising but no need to assist them.

2) Go-Run-Tell rule

In a few cases where a child senses the danger, it is always better to leave the situation, run to a trusted adult and tell everything. This way child is always prepared for the odd situation.

3) Keep an eye on various circumstances

Keeping an eye on various circumstances such as leaving the child alone at home or getting the child back home from school is not smooth always. Inform him/her that if somebody calls or asks for an adult, never share that he/she is alone, instead make sure that adult will be joining them soon or let them call until giving a pause for the phone call. Never allow your child to open the door if any stranger tries to get in, no matter if they claim to be one of his/her parent’s friends. Keep an eye on your child’s internet activities, where chances of meeting strangers are high and revealing personal information is inevitable.

4)  Make sure your child is socialising

When there is a slight cease in the opportunity to socialise, especially when there is a friendly talk from a stranger, few tend to hesitate. This could be also one of the disadvantages of inserting thoughts about strangers, no matter how cautiously you explain all strangers are not dangerous. In this process, chances are high that your child stops talking or socialising with others.

There are a few important points every child /parent must know when it comes to stranger

1) Do not take any eatables(chocolates/sweets) from a stranger even if he/she seems friendly.
2) Always inform your child if there is any emergency, reach out to the parent’s phone.
3) Never go with a stranger, if she/he claims to be the child’s father or mother’s friend. In such cases, children can have a secret code word to reveal each other’s identity
4) Your child must know the exact route to your house and other shortcuts, and otherwise proper address of the house
5) In crowded places always find security or an information centre, in case you separate from your parents.
6) Always remember the child’s helpline number and contact during an emergency.
7) Train your children with basic self-defensive techniques

Strangers are not always dangerous but your child should be able to sense the threat even from safe strangers who can be manipulative and immediately take the right action.

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Ramya E.

The author is a counselor and lifeskills trainer who has trained over 2000 students. She holds an M.Sc. in Psychology.

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