My son and I often exercise together. While I run, he rides his bike next to me but mostly ahead of me since I lack stellar speed these days. Recently, we ran to a park a half mile from our house where we saw a couple of people who were living out of their cars. I will admit, I was a little shocked to see it right in my hood, but I don’t assume that all people living out of their cars are dangerous so I wasn’t too worried. However, it did spark a conversation on stranger danger. I asked my boy all the usual questions like, “What if some one told you they had puppies in their car, would you follow them?” Or, “What if some one offered you candy if you followed them to their car?” Or, “What if a lady asked you to help her at her car?” Then I got real specific and asked, “What if some one you didn’t know told you that you had to go with them or they would hurt your mom or your sister; would you go?” That finally stumped him. Fiercely loyal, he said he would go if it meant that I was safe. I proceeded to tell him NOT to follow anyone that he didn’t know even if they threatened him with a lie. And since we were on topic of safety, we talked about men’s bathrooms since he can’t come with me anymore. I reminded him to tell me if he had any weird experiences in a public bathroom. I also reminded him that most people will be nice, but there are a few exceptions. I trek downtown every week and I see signs that read, “Prevent crimes of opportunity, lock your car.” Having regular conversations with your kids about stranger danger or other topics like pornography, inappropriate touching, drugs, or alcohol can prevent crimes of opportunity with kids. We need to train up confident, competent, and assertive kids so that if a dastardly opportunity knocks, they know how to sprint!
TIP: This week, talk to your kids about stranger danger while you are on a walk. It’s more natural when you bring up these conversations while you are doing an activity. Review bathroom logistics when you are at the store. Dialogue with your kids while you are in the car too. We have the best conversations in the car!