Today is the 36th National Missing Children’s Day. Missing Children’s Day is dedicated to encouraging parents, guardians, caregivers, and others concerned with the well-being of children to make child safety a priority. To celebrate, we’ve created some tips on teaching your children about interacting with strangers.
9-Tips to help teach your children about interacting with strangers:
- Start with basic body safety. To start the conversation about strangers, discuss general safety with 2- and 3-year-olds. When you go out, ask them to stay close. Also, kids this age are not too young to learn the correct terms for their genitals and that it’s not okay for most people to touch them there.
- Discuss the concept of strangers. Kids are usually ready for this discussion around age 4. Starting by asking your child, “Do you know what a stranger is?”
- Point out adults that kids can trust. Besides Grandpa and Auntie, give a few examples of adults a child can go to for help – another trusted parent, teacher, or school counselor.
- Go over do’s and don’ts. Define some rules about how to deal with strangers.
- Establish Internet do’s and don’ts. Place any computer or phone your child uses in a common area, so you can monitor what he’s doing. Children this age shouldn’t be on social media or in chat forums.
- Establish guidelines for using public bathrooms. By age 6, most children are ready to use a public restroom on their own. But be vigilant: Stand outside the door and tell your child to call if she needs you.
- Prep older children for being home alone. Teach them that if someone comes to the door, they shouldn’t open it but should say, “Mom can’t come to the door right now.”
- Role-play to teach, not to scare. “What if?” questions are an opportunity to practice – just be sure to stay positive and not frighten your child.
- Avoid scary statements. To drive the message home, you may be tempted to issue warnings like “A stranger might take you away from me!” or “I might never see you again!” But that will frighten your child unnecessarily. “The conversation needs to be not what you’re afraid of but what empowers your child.
These 9-tips will help teach your children proper ways to recognize stranger-danger in any given situation.
Every year for National Missing Children’s Day, the U.S. Department of Justice organized by OJJDP, recognizes organizations, individuals, and agencies who have made a difference in recovering missing, exploited, or abducted children. OJJDP invites fifth graders each year to participate in a Missing Children’s Day poster contest. Madison Dozier, from Reiley Elementary School in Alexandria, Kentucky was this years winner. Fifth graders from 33 states submitted artwork to this annual poster contest.
“2019 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest Winner: is Madison Dozier, Reiley Elementary School in Alexandria, Kentucky.”
We think that Madison’s picture sends an important message. What are you doing for National Missing Children’s Day?