STRANGER DANGER: 10 Things You Need to Teach Your Kids About Safety (Part 1)

Wangai Akin               

Stranger Danger is an enlightenment campaign targeted at children about thepotential danger posed by strangers who may approach them.

We should teach children to be aware of dangerous situations and how to react. This is not just about the fear of strangers, because even people that are familiar to them, can be bad too.

Temi Peters (not real name), a 7-year-old primary two pupil, walked home alone from school everyday. Her single mother was a cleaner in a hotel and didn’t have time take her to and from school because of her busy schedule.

One day while walking back home through her usual path, a man whom she was familiar with called her to his store. The man was known as Papa Faith in the neighbourbood because his daughter was called Faith. Temi felt safe going into his store because his daughter was her friend and classmate, and he was not one of those who normally harassed her – she would be safe with him or so she thought.

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Stranger Danger

“Sit down Temi, what can I offer you today?”

She was confused at his question. She did not tell him she wanted anything and moreover didn’t have any money.

“I don’t want anything sir,” she retorted shyly.

He patted her on her back and offered her a Coke and N200. She took it and ran off.

Day after day he kept on giving her gifts until he gained her trust. She sat down longer with him in his store and he always had a Coke and a funny story to tell that made her laugh. Then one day, he raped her.

Temi could never bring herself to tell her mum what happened because she was scared and her mum never had any time for her. So the abuse continued till Papa Faith moved from the area.

Stories like Temi’s are increasingly common in our society nowadays. You cannot open the newspaper without reading a story about a rape, kidnap or ritual and most times children are the victims. It’s just too sad but what we need to do as parents is teach our children how to keep safe, the signs to watch out for and what to do if they sense danger.

Our kids safety is our responsibility – no job, business or responsibility should stand in the way of us doing our duty to protect our kids.

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Before we go on to the 10 Things to Teach Your Kids About Safety, here are some important conversations you should have with your kids:

Start with basic body safety. To start the conversation about strangers, discuss general safety with your kids. When you go out, ask them to stay close. Also, teach them from the age of 2 the correct terms for their genitals and that it’s not okay for anyone to touch them there.

 Tell them who a stranger is. A stranger is anyone that your family doesn’t know well. It’s common for children to think that “bad strangers” look scary, like the villains in cartoons. This is not only untrue, but it’s dangerous for children to think this way. When talking to your children about strangers, explain that no one can tell if strangers are nice or not nice just by looking at them and that they should be careful around all strangers.

Let them know there are safe strangers. Safe strangers are people children can ask for help when they need it. Police officers and firefighters are two examples of very recognizable safe strangers. Teachers, principals, and librarians are adults children can trust too, and they are easy to recognize when they’re at work. But make sure that you emphasize that whenever possible, children should go to a public place to ask for help.

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These are the first steps to talking to kids about strangers. Let them understand that their bodies are not meant to be touched and also know who a stranger is. Teach them about strangers in your daily interaction at the park, at the supermarket, on the streets and in religious houses too.

We would talk about 10 things to teach your kids to recognize and handle danger in Part II of this topic.

To be continued.

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