Sunday, August 1, 2010

stranger danger

I met up with a good friend this afternoon at our favorite splash pad.  We sat and talked while we watched our children try to beat the summer heat.  Then we then noticed something disturbing, a super creepy man sitting alone drinking a beer watching our kids play.  It's 11am on a weekday, I might add. 

We're talking straight out of a movie, stereo typical child predator looks here. 

For those who know me well, you know I am the last person to think bad of someone and will always defend the underdog.  In fact, I kept doing it with him too.  "Oh, he's probably some one's Grandpa." 

But deep down I just had a feeling in my gut I couldn't ignore.

We were determined to out stay him or to get enough courage confront him.  After 2 hours he finally left.  Alone. 

Was he there innocently watching children play?  Or was he a predator?  I'll never know.  One thing that I know for sure is that I need to teach my children about stranger danger....before it's to late. 

Teaching kids stranger danger
remember my kids are only 4 & 6

  • Teach them what a stranger is!  Seems obvious enough, but I have been teaching my children to be nice and polite and in return they don't know a stranger and will chat it up with anyone.  It's also a good idea to ask them what a stranger looks like.  Gavin told me a stranger looks like a ninja. 

  • Visuals!  Print out color pages and read books.  Remember McGruff?  He's still around and is a great online research tool for parents and kids. 

  • Role Play!  I don't want to scare my children but to empower them.  I want to give them the tools where hopefully they won't become a victim.  My boys love playing pretend and they thought it was so much fun that Mommy was "playing" with them. 

We dressed up and took turns being the stranger trying to trick the kid.  As a parent it's a little scary that your child falls for the lost dog or candy trick every time...even though it's just pretend.  Hopefully if we keep this up they will eventually get it and recognize the danger if it happens in real life.

It's a shame that the world isn't a safe place for our children.  I hope and pray that they will never come in contact with anyone wanting to hurt them. 

Family Watch Dog is a FREE website that you can put in your zip code and see all the registered sex offenders in your area.  I was horrified by the number in my area.  You can click on the map and see a picture of each offender and their crime. 

Disclaimer:  Not all registered sex offenders are child molesters or violent offenders, I've heard of people being put on the list for "indecent exposure" because they  peed in a parking lot leaving a bar.  BUT I did find a man in MY NEIGHBORHOOD charged with "lewd act with a child".  Yeah.  That's enough to freak this Momma out! 

Have you begun to talk to your child about stranger danger?  What have you done to teach them about child predators?  I would love to get more ideas from real moms!

**I realize that 90% of child predators are people you children already know!  Like a coach, teacher, or family member.  That's a whole other subject....and frightening one at that...


Man of the West said...

Good as all those things are, and they are very good, I would also strongly suggest making sure that a child knows at least enough self-defense to escape basic grabs. This can be done at a surprisingly early age. I have seen children as young as eight successfully execute some releases.

Do be aware that your child's chances of learning genuinely effective self-defense in a taekwon-do class, though, are slim and none. I only bring that up because it seems like the local TKD program or school is the first place most parents head when they start thinking about this, and it is a waste of time. If you choose to seek out instruction, don't waste your time with those places.

Heather said...

I was at the park one day with two or three other homeschooling families, letting all our kids play together. This guy, maybe mid-40's, wearing a tank top and SHORT exercise shorts, shows up and proceeds to use the playground equipment to "work out". Note that there is a walking trail with exercise equipment and a gym and weights room right there in the same park facility that he could have used. He went up to the top of the playground structure and proceeded to "stretch". I'm pretty sure there was nothing under those short shorts! When he tried to strike up a conversation with my then 5 year old son, we were outta there!

Mariel said...

Ew, that gives me goosebumps. It's pretty scary how many perverts are out there...millions! And, they can look so normal. My kids were having a hard time understanding that bad people could look and act like good people. So, I showed them...I pulled up the sex offender registry and pointed out how several pictures of offenders look like totally nice people. I hope that helped, cause its something I worry about to. I always say, there is NOTHING that could ruin my life more than not knowing where my child was and what was happening to them. Horrible. If you see that dude again, call the cops! Chances are, he's already a sex offender and isn't supposed to be there.