Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tips on Talking to Kids About Dealing with Strangers

As you've seen in an earlier blog post and in the local news, the City Police Department (in cooperation with multiple other agencies) is investigating a possible child abduction attempt that occurred earlier this week near Northside Intermediate School. Understandably so, our Police Department has received calls from parents with questions about how best to talk with our children about "stranger danger" and the like. My wife and I have two small kids of our own, so this certainly hits home for us.

There are some on-line resources that you may want to check out if you are looking to learn more about how to educate your children:

In addition, Police Chief Schuetz has a few suggestions to offer. Below are his thoughts and comments...

In the wake of our community’s recent possible child abduction attempt in Milton, the Milton Police Department has put together the following safety tips for parents and families which are designed to help parents with what to tell your children about dealing with strangers who approach them. Important to remember as we talk to our children is that Milton is a very safe place to live, work, visit and go to school. Nonetheless, like all communities there is always a chance that someone could come here to try to hurt one of our kids. For that reason we offer the following suggestions as to how to address what recently happened, and keep your kids safe in the future.

1) Tell the truth. Kids find out about information happening in the community from a variety of different information sources and often times what they hear is inaccurate information. It is important that parents clearly communicate what did and did not happen and to clarify questions or concerns kids may have by being honest with them. A suggested response to this most recent incident may be "The police are looking for someone who asked a child to get into a car. They don't know yet if that person was going to try to hurt the child or not. Do you know what you would do if someone you didn't know asked you for a ride in their car?"

2) Do not scare children: Scaring kids unnecessarily instills fear in them. Fear tenses up fine motor skills which can create confusion and limits a child’s ability to make good decisions. Emphasize positive strengths in your children telling them that they will know what to do if a bad situation presents itself. While we want to encourage children to be apprehensive of strangers, we do not want our children to live in a world of fear where every adult is out to get them or hurt them.

3) Teach, train and practice safety with children: The best things parents can do is provide their children with a skill set full of confidence whereby they will know what to say and do in all dangerous situations. Be it safety in crossing the street up or what to do when a stranger approaches them. One of the best ways to do this is to run your child through scenarios of role playing, whereby they practice what to say when approached by a stranger. Practice those skits with your children so that they have a reference within their memory that builds confidence in them as to what to say and do if a stranger approaches them. As part of that training, always tell them to tell an adult they trust about what happened right away.

These simple tips can help you as parents develop skills in young people that keep our kids safe.