As a parent you want to keep your children safe at all times. But as they age, children become increasingly more separated from the safety their parents provide. With this in mind, you should endeavor, starting at a very young age, to provide your children with the awareness, knowledge and tools to protect themselves. Many of the following tips were taken from the Polly Klaas Foundation website. More detailed information, as well as free booklets, can be obtained on the website.
- Instead of saying “don’t talk to strangers”, tell children “don’t talk to people you don’t know”.
o Children often think of a stranger only as someone who looks mean, bad, dirty, different
or disheveled or even a monster.
Some molesters even dress nicely in order to elude the “stranger” stereotype.
Children may think a beautiful woman, elderly man or another child is not a stranger,
but this is wrong.
Teach children that anyone can be a threat.
o Since it may confuse children that their parents often speak to strangers, explain the
Adults oftentimes must talk to other adults they don’t know.
Just because a parent speaks to someone doesn’t mean they aren’t a stranger
Only when their parents are with them, and say it’s OK, are children allowed to talk
to adults or older kids they don’t know.
- The vast majority children are not victimized by strangers but by trusted friends, leaders
(teachers, coaches, etc.) or family members.
- Tell your kids to never accept items, gifts, treats, pets, rides, pictures, etc. from an unknown
adult or older child.
- Tell your kids to never allow an unknown adult or older kid to approach them and ask them to
help out for any reason, such as looking for a lost pet or child, giving directions, doing yard
- Tell kids to scream, run away and tell if anyone in a car stops and tries to get them to come
closer to the car or gets out and approaches them.
- Tell kids to yell “NO!”, run away, and tell if any adult or older kid asks them to keep a secret.
- Explain “private areas” (parts covered by their bathing suit) and instruct kids to yell “NO!”, run
away, and tell if someone tries to touch, look at or photograph their private areas or tries to
get them to touch or look at his/her or someone else’s private areas.
- If there are known sex offenders living in your neighborhood or near your child’s school, it may
be a good idea to show your children photos of the offender and tell them “this person has
tricked/hurt children before, if he/she tries to walk up to you or talk to you, yell “NO” and run
away fast, then tell."
- Be careful to not give too much information, the goal is to educate and empower your child,
not scare them.
- Teach kids how and who to ask for help if they are separated from you in a public place and
practice by quizzing them while on outings.
o Tell them even though they will be scared, try not to cry so others can understand them.
o Teach your children:
Their full names
Parents/guardians full names
Home and cell phone numbers
How to use a cell phone
How to use a payphone to call 9-1-1
How and when to call 9-1-1
Practice often until it’s second nature to them
A “script” to use in case they are separated from you:
• My name is (full name) I am lost from my mommy, whose name is (full name). Will
you please help me find my mommy? I know her cell phone number if that will
To never allow a stranger to remove them from anywhere if they become separated
from you – they should:
• Kick and fight
• Scream at the top of their lungs, yelling “Help! I don’t know you! Kidnapper!!”
• Run away
o Some good choices of people to ask for help are:
Moms with strollers or other young kids
Police officers, security guards, firefighters
o Play the “what if” game:
What if we got separated here at the store, who would you ask for help?
o Quizzing and practice actually builds a “script” in their brains so they have something useful
to reference during stressful situations.