In this day and age, you would struggle to find any parent that has not taught their child about ‘stranger danger’. Ask any kid and they will tell you that they have been told ‘don’t talk to strangers’. Yet a recent social experiment that went viral on the Internet clearly demonstrated that this simple message is not enough.
7 out of 10 kids would walk off with a stranger
In a recent social experiment, Joey Salads filmed what would happen if he approached children on a playground and asked them to go with him. To conduct the experiment, he first got the permission of the parents and then approached the children with a little dog to entice them to speak to him. The shocking outcome of the experiment was that 7 out of 10 kids were willing to walk off with him to ‘see some more puppies’.
In a similar experiment, Joey pretended to be an ice cream truck vendor and found that most kids were willing to get into the truck to get their ice creams.
Of course, these are just an experiments and not full-scale investigations, but it nevertheless provides us with some worrying anecdotal evidence on just how easy it is to gain a child’s trust and take them against their will.
Most kidnappers don’t look scary
Many kids seem to have an image in their mind about what a ‘scary kidnapper’ looks like. Maybe he wears a hat and long coat – some kind of disguise. Maybe he is a bit weird or socially awkward. Maybe he just acts creepy.
Most kids who have been taught about stranger danger wouldn’t walk off with this type of stereotypical ‘weirdo’. But what about the friendly young guy with the cute puppy? Or the nice, well-dressed lady who tells a kid to go with her because ‘mommy sent me to get you’?
Children need to be made aware that anyone could potentially try to do them harm, even someone who seems really nice or looks like an authority figure. Of course we want to raise kids to be polite and confident when speaking to adults. Nevertheless, they need to be aware of potential dangers.
Lesson 1: It’s really important to tell your kids that not all bad people look bad or act strange.
Kidnappers are sneaky
Child abductors use many different ways to lure children away from their parents and they are very clever in the ways that they gain a child’s trust. These days, children are just as likely to be enticed to a meeting through online chat as they are to be grabbed from the street. We’ve compiled a list of the Most Common Lures for you to discuss with your child.
Children should not live in fear and should be able to enjoy their childhoods. At the same time, it is important to educate them on the many ways they could be put in danger. Try to reassure your child that kidnappings are very rare, but make them aware of the sneaky ways a kidnapper might operate.
Lesson 2: Talk to your child about the different ways kidnappers might approach them and try to gain their trust.
Staying away from home makes kids vulnerable
‘Running away’, even if just for a short time, puts kids at greater risk of being taken against their will. According to the US Department of Justice, runaways and so-called ‘throwaways’ (children who have been forced out of their homes with no means of support) are usually sexually solicited within 48 hours. They often become victims of human trafficking.
A lot of kids, especially teenagers, sometimes think of running away, or they stay away from home for a while to punish their parents after an argument. Try to keep the lines of communication between you and your child open and make them aware of the potential dangers they face from strangers.
Lesson 3: Explain to your child that staying away from home, even for a short time, puts them at risk. No matter how upset they are, they should always come home.
Educate your child about the risks
The most difficult thing for parents is educating children about the risks of abduction without scaring them. However, simply making them aware of the dangers that could be out there will go a long way to keeping them safe. Have a look at the articles below for more information.