Stranger Danger: A Few Thoughts

As a survivor of sexual abuse committed  by people who were playing the role of my protectors and caregivers, I scoff at the idea of teaching my children the concept of stranger danger. This may seem counter-intuitive, allow me to explain. 

Sometimes strangers are the ones that help when in an emergency. I don’t want my children to be afraid to ask for nor receive help from others they do not know, or consider strangers.

I’ve learned that those who are there to protect you can hurt you. While sometimes strangers can save you from danger.

Also, by teaching children that only strangers can bring harm to them, and not people that are their caregivers, family & church members,  children can feel that they do not trust their own negative experiences. Or hunches. Children can then feel shame and guilt about inappropriate touching and behaviors directed at them. This may contribute to them not telling a trusted adult.

Last but not least, I want my children to learn to discern who may or may not hurt them. Whether they are strangers or not.

What have I done instead?

I have taught my children the anatomical names for each of their body parts, reading to them books that speak about genitalia with the same tone as hands and fingers and noses. This reduces body shame.

I have read to them books and talked with them about inappropriate touching. This so that they what is to be expected and what is not acceptable.

I do not force them to hug or kiss anyone, even their mom, if they say no. If playing games that involve tickling or horseplay when they say no or stop, that’s a hard stop for me. Teaching them it’s ok for them to have boundaries regarding their bodies.

Yes, I do tell them to not to take candy from nor to go with others alone, anywhere, without the knowledge of a trusted adult or parent. Yet what I avoid is using the term stranger danger.


3 thoughts on “Stranger Danger: A Few Thoughts

Add yours

  1. I really like your approach to teaching your children to develop boundaries with their bodies. It is so important for them to be able to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate in regards to touching, etc. It is all too often that children experience traumatizing events that they don’t understand or realize is wrong and keep it hidden inside. Trusting one’s instincts is by far better approach than believing what someone has been told about who to trust when it comes to strangers as well as the familiar. Great read. Hope you have a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply! I’ve taken some heat about this, as it was a real challenge to get family members to understand why I didn’t force my kids to hug or kiss them if they didn’t want to. Learning about boundaries starts early. Sometimes it can be a challenge when it comes to things like cutting nails and washing hair, etc.
      I hope you have a great day, as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a truly important message that needs to be out there. Most of these abuses are coming from people that are supposed to be in a trusting secure light, from close friends, coaches, teachers, to family members. It is sometimes hard for people to look for truth in the dark corners that are close to us. There needs to be a fundamental change in this philosophy. The way you have went about it with your children is great and hopefully others can take notice.

    Like

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