With advances in technology and children spending so much time online, it’s scary to think about who they may be unintentionally communicating with. While popular gaming platforms may seem innocent enough, they are one of the easiest ways for our children to fall prey to sinister adults with ulterior motives. Unfortunately, the potential for danger isn’t just limited to the internet. If you’re a parent, it’s important to begin the conversation about “stranger danger” early, so they know what to look out for as they navigate the world around them. Following, are some important tips on how to discuss “stranger danger” with your children, before it’s too late.
Teach Your Children to Recognize the Signs
According to DeliverFund, a nonprofit organization that combats human trafficking, “the human trafficking problem continues to rise across the United States, with traffickers able to use any tool available to them to connect with potential victims.” Therefore, it’s important to spread human trafficking awareness, so we are knowledgeable of the tools these people use to prey on our most vulnerable. One of the most often utilized tools is the internet. Social media, video games, and chat rooms are all popular places these people may lurk to gain your child’s trust. They may try to relate to them by talking about video games, popular music, or other pop culture references. Educate your children about this fact, and let them know they should never trust that the other person is who they say they are. Let them know they should never give strangers on the internet their real name, where they live, their telephone number, or where they go to school.
Practice Scenarios With Your Children
While discussing the importance of staying safe and not talking to strange adults is an important component of raising awareness, it’s also important to put this plan into action, and allow your children the ability to practice what they would do in a variety of scenarios. Take the time to role play, so your children know what to do if a strange adult approaches them. Pretend you’re a stranger who’s looking for their lost puppy or offering candy if they come to their house. By allowing your children the opportunity to put into practice what they’ve learned, they’ll know just how to react without hesitation if they’re ever put in a similar situation.
Teach Your Children to Trust Their Instincts
Instincts are a very important tool in our fight against child trafficking and keeping our children safe. Teach your children they should always trust their instincts, and if a situation doesn’t feel right, or an adult is making them uncomfortable, they should leave and tell an adult they can trust. Teach your children that an adult should never ask a child to “keep a secret,” and this is a sign that something is very wrong. Let them know that no matter what an adult may say to them, they should always speak up if someone has harmed or inappropriately touched them or tried to do so. By empowering our children with the knowledge and insight on what to look out for, they’ll be in a better position to defend themselves and get out of scary situations.
Teach Your Children How to Find Help
While you may like to believe you’ll be there if your child is in a scary situation with a stranger, there are field trips, day camps, and other times when you may not be available for your child in their time of need. Therefore, your child needs to be able to identify an adult they can trust. Teach your children they should find an official store employee, police officer, security guard, or other uniformed personnel if they find themselves in a scary situation. By teaching your child who they can turn to if you’re not there, you’re putting your child in a better position to stay safe and situationally aware.
With all the news headlines about children being abducted or harmed, it’s no wonder why many parents fear for their children’s safety. These are challenging times to raise a family. However, by providing our children with the knowledge and skills they need to deal with strange adults, they will be in a better position to identify potentially dangerous situations and stay safe.