Talking About "Stranger Danger" with Your Kids

Updated on November 07, 2011
E.M. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers

I'm sickened by the news about the Penn State asst. coach who has been arrested for assaulting children. I have a 4-1/2 yr old and 2-1/2 yr old and am wondering when/how you mamas have talked to your little ones about "stranger danger"? The 2-1/2 yr. old is too young to understand, but I could explain safety to my 4-1/2 yr. old...I just don't want to scare him. When I asked my SIL, who is the mother to 3 young girls, she just shrugged and said she's had multiple conversations with her kids -- she just tells them that sometimes grown-ups do bad things to kids and they must never go anywhere with a stranger, etc...

Suggestions, anyone? Maybe a book that might help explain?

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answers from Sacramento on

Get the Safe Side DVD produced by John Walsh and the Baby Einstein lady. It's very light, not scary, but gives the facts to kids about who is a stranger (coaches included), who isn't, and what to do in certain situations. It's really, really well done.

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answers from Minneapolis on

The concept of "stranger danger" can be dangerous to kids. They need to be able to ask adults for help when they need it. Most kids are molested by people they know - NOT strangers. Coaches, teachers, ministers/priests, neighbors and relatives - people who have access to your child over time is where the danger lies.

This example again proves that. This coach was someone the parents/guardians of these children trusted them to be with.

Teach "good touch, bad touch" instead.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Most children who are molested are NOT molested by strangers (as stated by everyone else below). We are teaching DS about who should touch him (that would be his parents in the bathtub and the doctor when we are present).

He knows that if he is lost to find a mommy (that is a woman with kids) or a grandma (that is a woman with gray hair) and ask them to call us (he knows phone numbers). Women are the least likely to harm kids and children have difficulty assessing whether a man in uniform is a policeman or (sorry to stereotype) a janitor.

We encourage talking to strangers - the more he knows how to approach adults, the less likely he is to be hanging back alone and be approached by a 'creepy' one. Also - he can gain a feel for what is 'normal' v. creepy.

We have never done a password - I am pretty sure he would blurt it out to anyone at all. He does know that he does not go anywhere with anyone but his parents or grandparents unless he talks to us on the phone. He can provide our phone numbers to anyone who might ever pick him up.

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answers from Washington DC on

It's not just ONE talk, it's an ONGOING line of communication.

If their underwear or swim trunks cover it?
NO ONE touches it.
NO ONE should ask to see it - except for a Doctor with ME present.

it's NOT about a stranger - as evidenced here - more molestations are done by a known family member, sports coach, teacher, etc. this way - they can tell the victim that "their mom or dad won't believe them" or "It's our little secret".

Tell your son that NO ONE is allowed to touch his private parts..they are HIS private parts...COMMUNICATE with him on HIS level - not an adult level - tell him that NO adult should ask him, a child, to help him find a puppy.

No adult will be allowed to pick him up from school.
Set a password that is ONLY known to you guys - that wouldn't be obvious to someone else - like the name of his teddy bear - and if an adult were to come to somewhere and pick him up - he needs to ask "what's the password?" and if they don't know it - then he's NOT to go with them... you can use that later if you wish - but the gist is that this is NOT just ONE talk. It's an insert in many conversations.


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answers from Los Angeles on

Don't just teach "stranger" danger since close family friends, trusted adults (like the coach) and relatives are all possible threats. My daughter was sexually abused at 5, just six months older than your daughter, by a close male relative, the very last person on earth I ever would have expected to do such a thing. She was told that I would be harmed if she told, so even though she knew what he was doing was wrong she feared for me.

Ask a Children's librarian at your local library for recommendations on books for your daughter AND your son. My little guy is 2.5 and he's not too young to be learning, there is information geared towards non readers, more basic, but it starts to get the info they need to know to them.

And this is ongoing, not a one-time talk. You keep talking to them as they get older and can understand more.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Is someones coach technically a stranger? nope. I think the first place to start is to give out kids an idea of appropriate and inappropriate behavior coming from anybody. Strangers almost pose no threat compared to that evil that is lurking within the people we already trust.

sick as it may be its the awful truth

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answers from Orlando on

I think when it comes to kids and stranger danger it's a fine line of fear and knowledge. I don't want to terrify my son to the point where's he's afraid of everyone nor do I want him to get into someone's car. I talk to him about his privates are his and even if a dr or momm asked to see them and he's not comfortable then he doesn't have to. He even takes a bath sight the door shut, not locked but shut. I try to teach him that if someone he knows or doesn't know is trying to get into the car not to unless mommy tells him about it first. Just keep talking to your kids about it.

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answers from Dallas on

They have books at the library that can help, but you should address trusting their gut because in most cases it's NOT a stranger. It's someone they know. And the person they need to go to for help if they're lost (police, sales clerk in mall, etc.,) are strangers.

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answers from Jacksonville on

They are not too young! The Berenstein Bears have a great book about strangers. Its not too detailed but it gets the point across. You don't want to scare them, but caution and awareness are essential. My 4 year old knows what to do (in theory) if a situation arrises, yours should too. I would start now. Not just with stranger danger, but good touch bad touch, always ask before accepting ANYTHING from anyone, etc. Unfortunately, in todays world, we must start at an early age with "the talks".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Well in NC I dowloaded all the creeps pictures and found out where they lived. THen showed my 7 and 11 year old. So for the longest time they looked at everyone who might have resembled one of the creeps and said "there's one now!!"
I do not suggest that approach.

But I have talked about not leaving with people they don't know. I have talked about who to go to if they become separated from us. We tell them to go to a mother with babies and store clerks. We told them to scream really loudly YOU"RE NOT MY MOMMY!!!! HELP!!!! We talked about good touch and bad touch. We had a password for a time.
And once one of my kids got out of my sight in an unfamiliar place. It was enough to freak me out for a very long time. She was 3. A wonderful Grandma found her and we were reunited in minutes but after that I was pretty hyper vigilant.
It has been an ongoing conversation. Now at 10, 14, and 16 I come right out and say, the creep's van was green with a dent. Before you call me, call the police. THere have been abduction attempts from busstops lately.

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answers from San Francisco on

Ok, 2 and 1/2 is NOT too young to understand! Please start talking to your kids about strangers. Say strangers are people that mommy and daddy don't know and so you don't know them either--that you can never go with someone or talk to someone who you don't know. Talk to them about their private parts and what is ok and not ok in their boundaries etc. You want them to have a code word that only they and you know together that you can say when something is uncomfortable or scary to them---Start now....good luck!


1 mom found this helpful
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