STAY AWAY FROM "STRANGERS"
"Stay away from strangers" is a popular warning to children to prevent abduction
or exploitation. The term stranger suggests a concept that children do not
understand and is one that ignores what we do know about the people who commit
crimes against children. It misleads children into believing they should be
aware only of individuals who have an unusual or sloppy appearance. While
occasionally a "stranger" will abduct or exploit a child, many children are
harmed by people who have some type of familiarity with them. It is more
appropriate to teach our children to be on the lookout for certain kinds of
SITUATIONS or ACTIONS rather than certain kinds of individuals.
CHILD SAFETY SKILLS
Though most kids pass through childhood without ever experiencing physical harm,
some are frightened or hurt by crime. Adults can make a difference in a child’s
life by listening to what they are saying about other people or places. Adults
must also teach children how to protect themselves in threatening situations.
Here are some things you can do to protect your children:
Rehearse their name, address and phone number (including the area code).
· Teach them how to make an
emergency call from a home phone and pay phone.
· Help them become aware of
dangers around them such as vacant houses, wooded areas, bad lighting, busy
streets with no sidewalks, etc.
· Show them safe places in the
neighborhood where they could go for help in an emergency.
· Make sure they know to go to a
store clerk or security guard - but never outside- if they get lost in a store.
· Tell them that no one should ask
to touch them anywhere their bathing suit covers, and that they should not be
asked to touch anyone else in those areas.
· Remind them that nobody should
ask them to keep special secrets from you.
· Have them walk confidently and
stay alert to what is going on in the area around them
· Ask them to watch out for the
smaller children and to report anyone who lurks around parks, bathrooms,
· Teach them how to write down a
license plate number.
· Make sure they can reach you by
phone if they must be home alone.
· Post the numbers to emergency
services, your work, a trusted neighbor, and a family member, near the
· Have them check in with you when
they get home and before they go to a friend’s house.
· Agree on rules for having
friends over when no adult is present.
· Remind them to never open the
door to anyone including a repairman, a salesman, or an unexpected guest.
· Teach them to never tell anyone
they are home alone either through the door or on the phone. Kids should always
say that their parents are busy.
Assaults can happen to anyone at any time and any place. There are several
things you can do to reduce your chances of being attacked:
· Keep your home securely locked
and well lighted.
· Install a peephole in the door
and use it.
· Beware of unexpected service
calls or sales calls.
· Check identification before
letting someone you don’t know in your house.
· Offer to make a phone call for a
stranger who wants to come in to use your phone.
· If you come home and see signs
of forced entry, go to a neighbor’s house and call the police to make sure
nobody remains inside your home.
· Be alert to your surroundings
and the people around you.
· Stay in well lighted areas as
much as possible.
· Walk confidently and at a steady
· Walk close to the curb. Avoid
doorways, bushes and alleys.
· Try not to walk alone especially
at night, and always avoid areas where there are few people. The more people
who see you walking, the less likely the assailant will want to make you his
· Be careful when people stop you
for directions. Always reply from a distance and never get too close to the
· If you are in trouble, attract
help any way you can. Scream for help or yell "fire" to attract attention.
· Keep your car in good working
order and the gas tank at least half full.
· Park in well-lighted areas and
lock the doors, even if you’ll only be gone a short time.
· Have your key ready before you
reach your car but check the front and rear seats before you get in.
· Drive with your doors locked no
matter what area you are in.
· Keep valuables such as purses
and packages, out of sight.
· If you think you are being
followed don’t drive home. Drive to an open gas station or business where you
can call the police. If you can do so safely, get a license plate number and
description of the car.
· If an unmarked police car
attempts to stop you, signal to the officer that you see him and proceed to the
nearest open business where there will be other people to watch. An assailant
will usually go on when you involve witnesses.
IF YOU ARE ATTACKED
· Keep your head. Stay as calm as
possible, think rationally and evaluate your resources and options.
· Keep assessing your situation as
it is happening. If one strategy does not work, try another. Possible options
are negotiating, stalling for time, distracting the assailant, and fleeing to a
DO YOU NEED A WEAPON?
· Beware of the false security
that mace, pepper spray, electronic stun guns or handguns may give you. Weapons
that are intended to hurt an assailant are often taken away and used against
· Carry a personal body alarm that
makes a piercing noise and draws attention to your situation.
HOW TO REPORT A CRIME
1. Identify yourself - name, address, and telephone number -even if you are
2. Tell the dispatcher the type of crime you are reporting.
3. Let them know if the crime is "in progress" or "has already occurred".
4. Where did the crime take place? Be as specific as possible.
5. Give descriptions of the suspect(s)
· How many are there?
· Are there any guns, knives,
· What direction did they go?
· Are they in a car or on foot?
· Is anyone chasing the
6. Describe the vehicle.
· Is it a car - pickup - van?
· What color is it?
What is the license plate number?
· What state issued the license
· Are there any dents in the
· Is there anything else that
makes it unique?
What direction did it go?
7. Stay on the line until you are told to hang up.
8. After calling the police, call a neighbor so they can help watch for the
suspect and assist you in giving a more complete description.
Emergency Phone Number for Fire - Police – Ambulance is 9-1-1
For further information on protecting children,
you are invited to visit the following informative websites:
Children's Advocacy Alliance
Center for Missing and Exploited Children