Lori Fullbright: Don't Teach Your Children 'Stranger Danger'

News On 6 Anchor Lori Fullbright has decades of crime-reporting experience, and in this column, she's giving you one of her biggest tips: don’t teach your children stranger danger.

Wednesday, May 15th 2024, 3:01 pm



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You’ve heard me say it before, but let me say it again: don’t teach your children 'stranger danger.'

First, it doesn’t work like parents think it does, and second, the person most likely to hurt your child is not a stranger but a relative, coach, preacher, babysitter, or some other trusted person in their life.

I’ve talked to lots of kids and child victims over the years. I can tell you, the notion of a stranger to them is a big, bad, scary-looking person who might grab them--child molesters are friendly, charming, well dressed and nice looking and know how to relate to kids and don’t come at them from a threatening perspective, but more of a friendship, with cool snacks and games and fun.

I have done a number of stories where we see if an undercover officer can lure a child away from their parents or grandparents at a park (always with permission). Even when parents swear their child won’t go, they always end up walking off with the officer they just met moments earlier.

When parents ask the child, "Why did you walk off with a stranger when I’ve told you not to?" The child always says something like, “He’s not a stranger. He has candy and is nice and has lost his puppy or has puppies to show me in his car.”

It’s better to teach kids scenarios or ask what-if questions, and those change depending on the child’s age.

  1. What if someone touches you where your swimsuit covers?
  2. What if someone wants to touch or kiss their privates?
  3. What if someone asks you to take a shower while you’re at their house?
  4. What if someone wants to take pictures of you without your clothes on?
  5. What if someone sends you text messages that are sexual or show pictures of their body?
  6. What if someone threatens to hurt you or your family if you tell their secret?
  7. What if you’re home and someone breaks into the house?

You can’t cover every scenario, but you can help them think through things ahead of time that might happen.

It’s no different than kids knowing what to do if there’s a fire or a tornado; it’s about having a plan because knowledge is power, and these answers apply to everyone they know, not just “strangers.”

It can be age-appropriate and done in a way that doesn’t scare them but empowers them.

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