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Teaching "Tricky People" Over "Stranger Danger"

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

One of the most significant fears parents face is child abduction, with a notable 14% ranking it as their top concern, and over 70% rating it as a general concern. While this is a tragedy when it occurs, it is less common than many parents perceive. Contrary to expectations fueled by technology, child abduction rates have remained relatively stable over the past two decades.

The introduction of the Amber Alert led to a heightened emphasis on "Stranger Danger" as a preventive measure. However, relying solely on this concept has its drawbacks, such as instilling excessive fear of strangers in children, potentially leading to paranoia. This fear has also contributed to a trend of parents allowing their children less time outdoors, impacting emotional and cognitive development.

Instead of promoting an unrealistic fear of abduction, it is crucial to teach children fair discernment in judging individuals. This includes recognizing safe individuals, whether strangers or not, and identifying "tricky persons"—those to be approached with caution or discussed with trusted grown-ups.

Additionally, we do not want children to lack boundaries for themselves nor others, and we do not want children who have an unsafe amount of trust in just anyone. This is why it is equally important that children understand what a safe stranger looks like in the real world.

For practical guidance on imparting these concepts to your child, consider exploring my simple and age-appropriate guide designed for parents of kids aged 6 and up.

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