The death of 7-year-old Florida girl Somer Thompson who disappeared on her walk home from school this month has sent chills down the spines of many school-aged parents. It reminds us all that making sure your child knows the ins and out of “stranger danger” should be at the top of the list of things to teach our kids.
Below are tips compiled from Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler and hostage negotiator, interviewed for a Today Show interview, and mychildsafety.net. Consider role-playing scenarios to help your child practice their reaction.
- Don’t get into a car unless your parents personally tell you to. This goes for older kids and hitchhiking.
- Stay away from anyone who follows you on foot or in a car. It is not necessary to go near a car to talk to the person inside.
- Never talk to a grown-up asking for help. Adults who need help should be asking an adult, not a kid.
If grabbed, be as violent as possible. This means screaming your head off, and kicking, hitting and even biting to attract the attention of others who can help.
Think your child can recognize a stranger? Take the Stranger Danger quiz provided by About.com and be sure.