Rick Smith, Chief of Police
1 Union St.
Wakefield, MA 01880
For Immediate Release
Monday, May 22, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Wakefield Police Encourage Parents to Talk to Children About Stranger Danger
WAKEFIELD — As the warm weather begins to move in and residents spend more time outdoors, Chief Rick Smith and the Wakefield Police Department are reminding parents to talk to their children about dealing with strangers.
Children see strangers every day, whether at the store, walking home from school or playing in their neighborhood. To protect and educate children, parents and guardians should teach them about strangers and suspicious behavior, as well as take a few precautions of their own.
“The vast majority of people that your child will interact with are nice, normal people, but we want to make sure parents are talking to their children about what to do in a situation that may be dangerous or make them uncomfortable,” Chief Smith said. “Please review this information with your children and always let us know if you see or hear anything suspicious.”
The National Crime Prevention Council recommends several tips on talking to children about strangers:
- Explain to your child that a stranger is anyone who your family doesn’t know well. It is common for children to think that “bad strangers” look scary, which is not only untrue, but dangerous for children to think this way. Tell your child that no one can tell if strangers are nice or not nice just by looking at them, and they should be careful around all people they don’t know.
- Don’t make it seem like all strangers are bad. Teach your child about safe strangers and adults they can trust — police officers, firefighters, teachers, principals and librarians. Also show your child places they can go if they need help, such as local stores, restaurants and the homes of family friends in your neighborhood.
- Teach your child to be wary of potentially dangerous situations and the warning signs of suspicious behavior, like when an adult asks them to disobey their parents or do something without their permission, asks them to keep a secret, asks children for help, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.
- Talk to your children about how they should handle potentially dangerous situations. You can use the “No, Go, Yell, Tell,” saying, which teaches children to say no, run away, yell as loud as they can, and tell a trusted adult what happened right away if they feel threatened by a stranger.
In addition to teaching children how to recognize and handle dangerous situations and strangers, there are other things that parents can do to help their children stay safe:
- Know where your children are at all times. Make it a rule that children must ask permission or check in with you before going anywhere. Give your children both your work and cell phone numbers so they can reach you at all times.
- Point out safe places. Show your children safe places to play, safe roads and paths to take and safe places to go if there’s trouble.
- Teach children to trust their instincts. Explain that if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable, they should get away as fast as they can and tell an adult. Tell them that sometimes adults they know may make them feel uncomfortable, and they should still get away and tell another adult what happened. Reassure your child that you will always help them when they need it.
- Teach your children to be assertive. Make sure they know that it’s okay to say no to an adult and to run away from adults in dangerous situations.
- Encourage your children to play with others. There is safety in numbers.
For more resources and information about talking to your children about strangers, visit the National Crime Prevention Council website.