Keeping Kids Safe – How to have the stranger danger chat

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Just recently our little community had a stark reminder that parents need to remain diligent + ensure they have had the stranger danger chat with their kids. Depending on how old your Little Learner/s are you may need to have the chat several times to make sure it isn’t forgotten.

As a parent, I find there is a fine line between scaring children + keeping them aware of possible dangers. You want them to understand the seriousness of the topic, without giving them anxiety.

Remember that kids, especially those over the age of 6 have probably been exposed to several stranger danger messages from daycare, kindy, school or yourself. I find the best way to approach the subject to refresh their memory is to ask them every so often “what would you do if a stranger approached you.” Or “Can you teach Mum what you know about stranger danger so I can be safe too?”

For the littlies, you can read them stories or act out little scenarios asking them what they would do. They can be the stranger and you act out what you want them to do, then switch roles and you become the stranger. Engage older siblings to teach what they know.

Secret Safe Word:

Decide on a family Secret Safe Word and let your kids know it’s secret to your family only and should never be shared without Mum or Dad’s permission.

Explain to your children “If someone wants to take you somewhere, ask them the Secret Safety Word. If they can’t tell you, don’t go with them even if you know them. Ask them to call your parents so you can talk to us directly to get permission or go to the school office or a business and ask the school staff to call your parents.”

Check in every so often to make sure the kids know the family Secret Safe Word and what to do if they need to use it. Test them by asking “What do you do if Joe the next-door neighbour tries to take you somewhere?” Reinforce that even if it is someone they know, they should only go with the people who know the secret safe word or they have direct permission from Mum or Dad.

Safe Zones:

Discuss safe zones with your Little Learners so they know how to get to safety if anyone should approach them. Safe zones could be:

  • The school office
  • Your home
  • A police station, ambulance or fire station
  • A friends house
  • A local business, library or shop

Whichever of those places is closest is where your little one should go to find an adult who can help them.

Phone numbers:

It probably goes without saying, but your Little Learners should learn Mum + Dad’s phone numbers by heart as young as possible. For the very young ones, write your phone number inside their bag either on the fabric or on a piece of paper tucked in a safe pocket and let them know it’s there if they need it.

Other tips to teach:

Here are a few more thought provokers to discuss with your little ones:

  • Safety in numbers – stick with friends and avoid walking alone if you can.
  • If you have to walk alone, stay within safe zones for example walk through the school rather than around the outside, and don’t talk to strangers.
  • Listen to the warning signs from your body and brain. If you feel that something is a bit unusual or uncomfortable find a trusted adult or safe place to get away from the stranger.
  • If a stranger approaches you, use a loud voice and say “I don’t know you!” which lets other people know you may be in danger.
  • Notice what the stranger is wearing, what they look like, how old they are or the vehicle they are driving. This will help keep the community safe by giving adults a clear description so they can find the stranger and stop them from bugging people.

Resources you may like to check out:

Also, check out these websites for videos + tips on how to discuss safety with your little ones:

Daniel Morcombe Foundation

Safety 4 Kids website

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