One of the most anxiety-inducing thoughts for any parent is imagining your child being kidnapped by a predator.
Thankfully, statistics show that only about 100 children are kidnapped each year in stereotypical abductions by strangers – but with the right teaching, we can push that number closer to zero.
Stranger danger is something we all have drilled into us from a young age. But could we be doing more?
We might have assumed that simply warning our kids of the dangers of abduction was enough, but when groups of children were put in “real-life” scenarios, not all of them knew how to respond.
As reported by 12 News, police staged a few tests for three little boys and three little girls, while their parents watched behind the scenes.
Playing the bad guy in this scenario is Dave Fisher – who’s definitely a good guy in real life.
Dave and his wife Karen run camps for kids, where they teach children through role-playing how to distinguish a good stranger from a bad.
According to Karen, we have to remind our kids of the stranger danger rules constantly, or the message simply won’t sink in.
In the test, Dave approaches the first group of 4-year-old girls, who are playing outside.
He calls out hello to the little girls, shouting that he has cupcakes in the back of his car. Within seconds, two of the little girls are at his side.
The kids are completely won over by the offer of treats. One of the little girls practically gets inside Dave’s trunk, while the other jumps up and down with excitement.
It’s as if it doesn’t even cross their minds that Dave is a stranger – and potentially dangerous.
When the moms meet up with their kids, stern words are exchanged – but it’s clear that they don’t understand what they’ve done wrong.
The mom of the little girl who got closest to Dave’s trunk can be heard saying:
“He could’ve grabbed you and put you in his car and take you away from me forever and ever and ever. That’s scary.”
The little girl’s response?
Another little girl then insists that Dave wasn’t a stranger; he was just a grown-up.
The problem seems to be that we’ve painted a picture of strangers in our children’s heads.
They imagine strangers to be scary men, like the baddies from action movies, who obviously look and act shifty.
But that’s rarely the case – kidnappers will pose as the “good guy” to get on a child’s side, exactly as Dave did.
So, is it even possible for us to successfully warn our children of stranger danger?
Karen says that we just need to change our approach. Instead of teaching kids not to talk to strangers, we should teach them to always check with mom or dad before taking food from somebody they don’t know.
We should also teach them to take three steps back when someone they don’t know approaches them. If that person continued coming forward, it’s a sign for the child that they should immediately run away.
It’s worth noting that one of the little girls in the test did run away as soon as Dave started talking to them.
But one out of three isn’t the result any parent would hope for – especially if your kid was one of the two that approached the stranger.
You can watch the full video of the test, including two more rules to teach your kids, just below!
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