We all know to teach kids about “stranger danger” when they are little, but do they really know what to do if they need help and they can’t find someone they know and trust? Telling them to “find help” is really easy, but actually talking to an adult and asking them for help is not easy for most kids–and it isn’t easy for most adults either. For starters, it’s hard to figure out who is most likely to help, especially with strangers. Simply speaking to a stranger can be very difficult. Getting our kids to simply place their own order at a restaurant took years!
If something happened and you can’t avoid a dangerous stranger, how do you handle that? If you aren’t sure what to do, how will your kids know what they should do? Perhaps someone followed and trapped them, or perhaps they made a huge mistake and arranged to meet a stranger alone. Perhaps a person or situation they thought was safe has turned dangerous. Whatever the reason, they need to find a way back to safety.
Who should they turn to?
Assuming no one they know is nearby, the obvious answer seems like finding a police officer. The problem is that it can be hard to tell the difference between a real cop and a rent-a-cop, and the latter don’t always have much training or vetting before they are hired. They may not make the situation any better. The recommendation I have always liked is to find a mom with a child and ask her for help. Most moms help kids. That’s what moms do. Their reaction may be to go straight to a cop, but moms will often take a few extra minutes to ensure a kid is reasonably safe before leaving. They may even wait until their family shows up to claim them, although that isn’t always possible.
Moms help kids. That’s what moms do. Sure, there’s the odd outlier, but it’s generally true. Why not dads? As much as we have progressed and changed, the simple truth is that it’s usually faster and easier to spot a mom and most kids already automatically go to Mom for whatever they need. It makes sense in a kid’s mind. If your child goes to Dad first, by all means, tell them to find a dad.
That parent’s reaction may be to go straight to a cop, but there is a good chance they will take a few extra minutes to ensure a kid is reasonably safe before leaving. They may even wait until their family shows up to claim them, although that isn’t always possible.