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Does “Stranger Danger” Threaten Your Child’s Safety?

Does “Stranger Danger” Threaten Your Child’s Safety?

Growing up, most of us were taught never to trust strangers. Our young minds were drilled with the image of a mysterious man wearing an overcoat in the park, and we were told to avoid this person at all costs.

In recent years, we have learned that statistically, “stranger danger” is not what we really need to be worried about. In fact, 90 percent of all children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know and trust.

Undeniably, “stranger danger” remains an important lesson for children and should continue to be included as part of an overall safety curriculum. However, I firmly believe that placing too much emphasis on stranger danger is itself a danger.

When you continually tell a child to be afraid of strangers, what you’re also implicitly telling them is that they are safe with non-strangers—and that’s just not true.

As a parent, the most important thing you can do to protect your child is to remain vigilant and aware of the warning signs, or “red flags”, of child sexual abuse.

Rather than communicating mixed messages like “stranger danger”, try talking to your kids about personal boundaries and teaching them the difference between “good secrets” and “bad secrets”.

The more you communicate with your kids and remain aware of their behavior, the better chance you have to keep them safe.

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