For and Against The Stranger
Summer Safety Tips, Part 2
by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
What to do if a stranger approaches you.
While it is ok for a child to approach a stranger for help (see below), it is not ok for an adult to approach a child for help.
A child should be taught;
1. They should stay farther away from a stranger than the stranger’s reach,
2. It is ok to back away from a stranger and it is ok to say “NO” to a stranger,
3. Never go to a person that they don’t know who is calling them over. A stranger with wrong intentions may ask a child if they want to see the puppy in their car, or some candy, or “I know your dad, can you give him
something for me.”
4. Never to give out information about themselves to someone they don’t know, such as, “What is your name?” “Do you live in this town?” “Isn’t your mom’s name …..?” People with wrong intentions are testing
all the time.
They know they can’t get what they want from some, but not all children, so they have to do a lot of testing in ways that seem like “normal” interactions to find the one that will take the bait.
They might try the same question with 20 children before they get the one who will come over to see the puppy. Then they try a level two test.
Experts conducted tests using a “lost puppy” technique to lure Small children who have been taught to never go with a stranger. To the amazement of the parents (who were looking on and knew their child was part of a
test), the technique was very successful. Once they throw the bait, they hook the child and then set the hook. They lure the child farther away with each strategy.
What to do if you get lost.
Almost every adult has a story about getting lost as a child, either themselves or someone they know, whether it was a crowded area, an area with racks higher than themselves, or somewhere else.
When children have been given instructions and a chance to practice, if this unfortunate event happens they will be less afraid and better able to take the best next step.
Step 1 - The first thing a child should do when they realize that the adult they are with is not in sight, is to take a few breaths while they calmly scan as far as they can see in all directions while standing in one spot.
Step 2 - Children should be taught to know what to look for in a helping person. The safest people to ask for help from are; (1) someone behind a desk or using a cash register; (2) someone wearing a uniform or name tag; (3) an adult with children; (4) a person who looks “old” in a child’s opinion. Finding a helping person should be done from the spot where you are. Children should not go wandering looking for their parent or a helping person.
Step 3 – Children should say, “My mom (or whoever they were with) is lost, will you please find her for me.” Or, “I need help finding my mom.” Children should be taught NOT to leave the area with anyone. The parent will retrace their steps looking for the child, and the child cannot be sure the helping person is safe.
Step 4 – Children should be able to recite their parent’s phone number and address as well as their parent’s first and last name.
Have a wonderful and safe summer, whether you are staying here on beautiful Cape Cod or traveling!
Please see www.tracylamperti.com for more information about working with children and families or specifically
I don't know about you, but when I go out to public places, especially the grocery store with my son it seems as if people like to gravitate towards us. Lately, it seems as if it happens in slow motion like a scene out of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or the Zombie Apocalypse. The only difference is that the zombies are not after me, no they are after MY baby! They want to touch him, pet him, stroke him, kiss him, play with him. It's as if they crave the innocent life force deep within my child's soul.
I have tried several tricks: wearing him in a carrier, keeping him in the carseat with a blanket over him, etc. Nothing works. I researched a few ways to discourage the touching though:
"She's irresistible, isn't she? I know it's hard to not touch, but I would rather you say 'Hi' without handling her."
"My baby's a little shy. Would you mind backing off a bit?"
"Feel free to look, but I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't touch."
"UH-OH! You should really go see a doctor, he's SUPER contagious right now. But only from direct contact. Since people aren't supposed to touch other people's babies, no one should be at risk."
Start "petting", stroking, or touching their socks, arms, mouth, head etc and then when they look shocked: "OH! Should I have asked first?" and use sanitizer on your hands.
I have heard stories from my friends of people reaching in thru a car window at the gas station to touch the baby, reaching thru a playpen gate to touch not only the baby but his toys and swing. Yes, we are very proud of our little ones and we appreciate the compliments that they are adorable, cute, beautiful, and handsome. We know! We made them and we did a darn good job! However, our babies are still new to this world and are not always ready for the bombardment of germs and other micro critters that live on people. Even if someone touches the baby's foot, that foot is later going to go right into their mouth, making the germs' job ten times easier at invading the new environment. Sometimes I can even hear the little germs yell with glee as they slide on inside to take up a new residence. Now for those of you who think well germs are no big deal, what about the fact that this is a random person walking up to your child and touching them? When was the last time you walked up to a random person and started stroking their head? I haven't done that ever and I would be probably screaming for help if someone did that to me in the grocery store.
The primary culprits tend to be the elder population. I understand it probably makes them feel younger and gives them hope. After all that is what babies symbolize to many: HOPE! Hope for the future, hope for the innocence to last, hope for dreams to come true, etc. I think as we get older we learn so much more about the world and how it works and we long for the days of our youth when we were innocent. Our biggest worry then was if we didn't get a popsicle after dinner or if we didn't get a story before bedtime. We didn't know of evil in the world, that didn't exist, except in stories where the good guy always won! I try to remind myself that these people are getting a little more joy in their day because they got to see my son's radiant smile, but please don't touch or at least ask so I can politely tell you that I appreciate your interest but no. Who knows maybe when I am older, I will see an infant in the store and want to touch him or her, but I won't because it is not polite, but I will make silly faces in the hopes of getting the baby to smile back at me so I can recapture a simpler time ;)
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