Do you remember learning not to take sweets from strangers? It was taught to my sister and me in primary school. What is a stranger? A grown-up that you don’t know. Would you take a sweetie from a stranger? NO! I would go and find a grown-up that I know and shout mummy if I couldn’t see anyone I knew. Simple.
I have to admit, I did grow up being terrified of these “strangers” with “sweeties” and the child-catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang didn’t help much.
Did you know this lesson is no longer taught to children? I don’t advocate the scary stranger approach but there must be an updated lesson available. I am not hysterical, I appreciate the danger of child abduction has not risen and that we are simply more paranoid about safety on our streets. However, the danger posed to children, particularly girls, has not dropped either.
A few years ago my sister was playing with our nieces (then aged 5 and 3ish) and had this conversation:
Sister: hey girls, do you know what a stranger is?
Sister: it’s a grown-up who you don’t know. Mmmm what if a stranger gave you a sweetie, what would you say?
Nieces: THANK YOU
Sister: What does a stranger look like?
Nieces (together): a BIG monster with SCARY GREEN EYES!
Sister (trying not to laugh): No they look like normal people only you don’t know them.
Nieces: blank faces.
Can you imagine our horror!! Now in defence of my wonderful nieces, they obviously didn’t click what a stranger is, and were learning to say thank you to everyone BUT we had a good chat with them about this and still “test” them occasionally every few months.
I find it seriously annoying that children do not learn these lessons at school. The recent abduction of 5 year-old April Jones in Wales sends shivers down my spine. Surely every parents worst nightmare.
I advocate teaching all children about dangers, yes it makes them potentially scared but what if your child is faced with that situation.. Surely they are better equipped to deal with it if they are drilled to say no and find/shout for mummy?