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Apr 16

Stranger safety: Teach children to recognize and report suspicious behaviors

Posted on April 16, 2021 at 3:27 pm by Clay Curtin

As schools start to reopen, this is a good time to remind students to be aware of their surroundings and of people that ask them to do something that they sense is not right or makes them feel uncomfortable. Dangerous and uncomfortable situations can be referred to instances where children are approached by a person and asked to disobey their parents or do something without permission, asked to keep a secret, or make them feel uneasy in any way.

The National Crime Prevention Council offers information about stranger safety so parents can protect their children from dangerous strangers by teaching them about strangers and suspicious behavior, and by taking a few precautions of their own. 

Many people we encounter are nice and good people; however, there are a few people that have bad intentions or exhibit suspicious behavior and children should be cautioned to stay aware. We ask parents, caregivers and teachers to help educate children and teens in recognizing instances and warning signs of suspicious behavior and dangerous situations. Talk about stranger safety and include examples of situations. Some examples include if an unfamiliar person approaches a child to ask them to do something that they know is against what they were taught, which may include getting in their car, consuming a piece of candy, food or drink, or asking them to help find their cat or puppy. These can all be red flags for a child to recognize as unsafe situations. 

A distinction should also be made for those people who are considered strangers but can help them. Children should know that in the event they are faced with a dangerous or uncomfortable situation that they may need to get help from certain people they may not know, but can be trusted to be sources of help. These persons include a police officer, teacher, neighbor, workers at local business or an adult or older child nearby. 

If approached by a stranger offering them something, a child should be taught to say “no,” run away, and find a safe adult to report the incident and call for help. The Police Department also encourages parents to remind their children to contact the police whenever they observe or are notified of something they believe to be out of the ordinary. Parents and/or guardians should notify the police as soon as possible with the information.

The Police webpage, child safety - teaching safe behaviors provides some general child safety guidelines, online and cyber safety tips and resources.