Use stranger danger role playing scenarios with your children to teach them what to do when approached by a stranger. They will benefit the most if you participate in the role playing.
Explain to your children that a stranger is someone you hardly know or do not know at all. People that they see frequently in your neighborhood or community, but do not know, may be just as much a stranger as someone they have never met before or have never seen. In fact, statistics show that most child abductions are committed by individuals known in some way to the child.
The purpose of role playing is to teach your child how to react when approached by a stranger. You should teach your child to seek help from a trusted adult, like a teacher, police officer or a well-known friend’s parent anytime they feel scared or threatened by a stranger.
Role play the following encounters and fit the circumstances of your own neighborhood and surroundings:
Children waiting for the bus or a ride home
While waiting for the bus at school, your child is approached by a stranger and says, “Your mother is sick and she asked me to come pick you up and take you home.”
- Teach your child never to get in a vehicle with someone they don’t know or don’t know well.
- Your child should immediately return to the school and ask the principal or a teacher to use the phone to call you and confirm that you have sent the person to pick them up. Explain that you will never send a stranger to pick them up.
- Identify a code word, known only to you and your child. In the event of an emergency in which you would need a friend to pick up your child, teach your child only to go with the friend if he or she knows the code word.
Your child is home alone and the doorbell rings
- Teach your child to never answer the door when she is home alone. She should ignore the doorbell and avoid looking out windows where she is visible to individuals outside of the house.
- If the person knocking yells through the closed door that it is an emergency, teach your child to call you or 911, but not to open the door.
Your child is home alone and the phone rings
- Leave a list of numbers your child should be familiar with, including your cell phone number, work number, grandparent’s numbers, etc. Teach your child not to answer the phone if he does not recognize the number and let the call go to voicemail.
- If your child does answer the phone and the caller asks to speak with his parents, teach him to never let the caller know he is home alone. Your child should say that you are busy and offer to take a message.
Your child is playing an online game and a player asks for her real name
- Teach your child to never provide identifying information over the internet, including name, age, or location, even if the person asking is a “friend,” they have made online. Child Internet Safety Tips
Your child is outside riding his bike when a car begins to slowly follow along
- Teach your child to seek help immediately if he feels like he is being followed. If there is a public place nearby, such as a convenience store or restaurant, he should go in and ask for assistance from an adult who works there. If he is in a residential neighborhood, teach him to go directly home, if close by, or to a friend’s house. If he is in an unfamiliar neighborhood teach him to look for a house where it appears someone is home (vehicle in driveway, people in yard, etc), ring the bell and ask for help.
- Teach your child the difference between a “stranger” who seeks out your child and a “stranger” your child may need to seek out to ask for help.
- If your child carries a cell phone, teach him to call you as soon as he has sought help from an adult in a safe place. If he has nowhere to turn, teach him to call 911.
Your child is outside playing when a stranger driving by stops his car and asks if she has seen his lost dog (or for directions to the nearby elementary school, or for the time, etc)
- Teach your child to never go near a stranger’s car. Adults do not ask children for help. Your child should immediately walk away and seek help from a trusted adult (as described in scenario above).
Your child is standing outside the local movie theater waiting for you to pick him up. A stranger offers him a ride. He declines, but the stranger attempts to pull him towards the stranger’s car.
- Teach your child to scream “this is not my dad/mom.” If your child only fights or screams wordlessly, he may be mistaken by passersby for simply throwing a tantrum. However, if he makes it clear to those around him that the stranger is not his parent, they will be more likely to intervene and help him.
- Teach your child to do anything they can to avoid being placed in the stranger’s car, including screaming, kicking, hitting or biting.
Your child is at the local playground when an unfamiliar adult calls out to her by name. The adult asks her to come over to talk with him.
- Your child should never be at the park or playground alone. If old enough to be without adult supervision, she should use the buddy system.
- If your child does not know the adult, she should shake her head no and quickly walk away to a safe place.
- Teach your child that just because an adult knows her name, it does not mean it is safe to approach the adult. The stranger may have overheard her name being called by others or read it on her clothing, backpack, etc.
- In situations like this, safety trumps manners. It is better for your child to risk being “rude” in order to ensure her safety. If it turns out the adult was a friend or acquaintance, they will understand.
Do you know some Great Stranger Danger role playing scenarios? Share your comments below.