Are all strangers dangerous?
Obviously not; however, because of the tricky dilemma we all face in finding a way to keep our children safe without making them fearful of everyone, some young children can grow up believing this. And this is exactly what happened to me as a child.
When I was eight, an aunt took me shopping in a large crowded department store. We became separated and I was terrified. I just bolted out of the store, heart pounding and ran and stumbled all the way home – a distance of almost four miles. I crossed many major roads and how I arrived home in one piece, I will never know. A tearful reunion with my parents and, a little later, my distraught aunt, resulted in the adults gently explaining that yes, I should have told one of the ‘ladies behind the counter’ who would have helped me find my aunt.
It is not easy to bring up children, protecting them from harm whilst not wrapping them in cotton wool, and leaving them unprepared for adult life. The old phrase ‘stranger danger’, for example, can make some children think that no one can be trusted in any circumstances, so that if they do become separated from their adult on an outing, they would literally not know who they could turn to for help.
To help parents, teachers and carers to explain to children what to do if they do get lost, or feel unsafe, without making them anxious, a new approach to stranger awareness, Safer strangers, safer buildings, was devised by Greater Manchester Police.
The campaign was launched at the House of Commons, and is endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers and educational charities, including the Children’s Safety Education Foundation, Kidscape and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
A free film, ‘Teigan gets lost’ is available to watch at www.childseyemedia.com/safety.html , together with a printable version of the Safer strangers, safer buildings code, children’s activity sheet and guidance for teachers, parents and carers as well as links to further resources.
Please do share your thoughts and suggestions about this vital issue. Do watch the film here!