Strangers aren’t the only ones who may want to hurt our kids
Local news stories have recently focused on the events in Delaware and Marion where a man has reportedly tried to lure children into his vehicle. The local media has done a wonderful job assisting law enforcement with providing important information and warnings to parents. Although the warnings are necessary, the message that sometimes comes across to children is that there is a “stranger danger” alert.
“Stranger danger” is a term that has been used for many years to teach children to be careful around people they do not know. As a child, I was taught to “never talk to strangers” or accept gifts from a stranger. This was and is still good advice, however, parents need to teach their children that strangers are not always the only people who may want to hurt them. Statistics show that children are more likely to be harmed by someone they know as we have seen in recent local news stories of a church leader and a well-known neighborhood resident who are facing criminal charges involving children.
When I ask children to describe a stranger, I get answers like: “he wears all black clothes,” “he wears a mask,” “he carries a gun,” all things associated with “bad guys” portrayed in books, movies and television shows. I will also ask them to pretend they are walking down the street alone and walking toward them are two men walking side by side. One man has dirty clothing, long unwashed hair, a long beard and has not showered for several days. The other man is wearing a business suit, has short hair, is clean shaven and has recently showered. I ask them which man they would walk past and the answer I always get is the man in the business suit. When I ask why they would walk past that man the answer is “he looks nice.”
It would be great to be able to tell if a person was bad or nice just by looking at them. But, we all know that is not possible. Children need to be taught that there are good people and bad people — determined by how the person acts and not by the person’s appearance. Children need to understand that no adult, whether a stranger or someone they know, should ever ask them to do anything without their parents’ permission.
Parents should teach children that most people would never hurt them but there are some that would. Children should be taught that if anybody tries to hurt them physically, touch them in an uncomfortable manner, kidnap them, or keep them somewhere when they do not have the right to keep them there; that is a bad person who is trying to hurt them and they need to tell a trusted adult immediately. Let your children know they are special and absolutely no one has a right to hurt them and help keep our kids safe.
Keeping Our Kids Safe is brought to you by the Delaware Police Department and School Resource Officer Rod Glazer.