Stranger Danger

Last week, we received a notice in the mail that a registered sex offender had moved into our neighborhood. I promptly looked up the details of his offense on the provided website, and was {slightly} consoled to find that he did not have a record of assaulting children. Still, a conversation on the rules of safety with our kids was unavoidable.

I hate talking about this stuff with my children. When I was 6 years old, I remember my parents teaching my brothers and I about Stranger Danger. We got fingerprinted, roll played several scenarios of a stranger offering us candy, and practiced running away while yelling "Help! You're not my daddy!"

A few weeks later, we begged my mom to let us stay in the toy isle while she finished grocery shopping, and it became apparent that we were not grasping the gravity of the rule that we stay by her side. So she told us about a boy named Adam, concluding with the words "... all they ever found of him was his head. And that's why you never leave my sight when we're at the grocery store."


As a teenager, I'd retell that particular anecdote as an example of how overprotective my mother was. But now? Now I get it.

A mother's fear for her children is a powerful thing. And there are so many things to be afraid of.

So we taught our kids about strangers; that they are never to enter a car or house or go with someone they don't know. We taught them that even trusted friends and family members can hurt them. We taught them that our family doesn't have secrets, and if they are ever asked to keep a secret that they can come to us. We taught them to run home if their friends ever offer to show them their dad's gun, or to view something on their laptop, or to try a drug or cigarette. We taught them that if something bad does happen to them, it's not their fault. They are good kids.

But most importantly, we concluded with the words "... if you are ever uncertain or scared or confused about what you should do, say a prayer. Heavenly Father can be with you even when mommy and daddy can't, and He will always help you, comfort you, and let you know what you should do."

{To my mother's credit, I also remember her saying those exact words to me.}

Now, I tell myself the same thing as I jog with my new can of Mace {it turns out there are three sex offenders on my running route}. I don't want to live my life being held hostage by fear of what could be. So I take precautions, follow rules, do my best and then... I let go.

Because I have faith that He will be there when I cannot.


Nat said...

Jack put that same notification on our refrigerator...he lives on our street I think.

I love what you told your kids! Best advice a parent can ever give I think.

The Dragonfly said...

We've had those same convos with our kids. I don't like to scare them, but I know they are more trusting and easy to accept people than I am - inlcluding strangers, so we warn them and run through scenarios too.

Apis Melliflora said...

We do this periodically too. But your post is a good reminder to do it more often.

LisAway said...

That picture is so creepy. And funny. Love the way you talk to your kids. Maybe I will read parts of this post to mine...

hukolb said...

Yes, it can be a scary world, especially with young kids and girls as our oldest! We've had various times to discuss stranger danger but kids are just so trusting and vulnerable. All you can do is pray. I like how you put things, but I too wish we didn't have to even talk about it with our innocent little kids...Looks like we need another FHE to include role playing and a few other things:).

Stacy said...

Also remember it is SO UNLIKELY. This is what I tell myself when my child is out of my view for a minute. I breathe deeply, remind myself 99.999999% of people are not out to grab a kid , and of course feel very relieved when I see them again. Chances of dying of flu are 0.1%, chances of being abducted are 0.00001% and majority of those abductions are by family members not strangers. So by a stranger it is probably 0.000000001% of children.

Check out this website for some reassurance also:

Most of the things we do in the name of stranger danger are overkill and some actually do more harm than good.

MelancholySmile said...

Stacy- thanks for the reminder. I've actually read Free Range Kids in the past, and agree with much of the philosophy. Sometimes it's hard to remember in the fear of the moment. :)

JeanetteH said...

Your Arrested Development link made me just about do a spit take. Any blog entry that links to Arrested Development holds a special place in my warped heart. :)

The Queen Vee said...

As I mom I never stop worrying and being concerned for kiddos and now I have the same feelings and concerns for their kiddos. Keep reminding, I know I do.

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