Stranger Danger! The 3 things to Teach Your Kids to Avoid Abduction
Policeman tells kids to Scream 'No,' Run and Tell
Even after nearly 30 years as a policeman, the thought of child abduction leaves a knot in the stomach of Sgt. Lonny Haschel with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The recent reports of attempted abduction attempts in northeast Tarrant County brings back that familiar feeling. A 10-year-old boy ran away from a stranger in Grapevine, Texas on Monday and a girl told Hurst police that a man in a black van got out of the vehicle and walked toward her.
The sergeant asks that parents take these attempts very seriously and we teach our children what to do during an abduction attempt.
The three things you must teach your children when it comes to strangers.
- Say, “No!” If it’s inside or outside and someone tries to grab their arm or tries to get them to go with them, the child should scream, “No!” as loud as he or she can.
- Run! Teach your child to run as fast as they can away from the person.
- Tell somebody. Teach your child to find the first person they see they can trust – mom, dad, grandparents, a family friend, a police officer or firefighter. Get help immediately.
He also wants to send an important message – this could happen to anyone.
“We don’t want this kind of thing to happen to you,” Sgt. Haschel said. “Everybody always thinks it happens to somebody else, but if you ask the victims, ‘Did you think it would ever happen to you?’ Most would say, No, not to me.’ We want to change that mindsight. It could absolutely happen to you.”
Making sure your child is safe means being proactive now with your children and making time for lots of conversation with them. You don’t have to make it a scary or intimidating talk. Sgt. Haschel says you can talk to your kids while in the car. Strike up a casual conversation, but you must let them know what they should do and make sure they truly understand the serious nature of the issue.
When he goes into schools and teaches stranger danger, Sgt. Haschel teaches kids to look for a policeman in uniform. He lets them know to trust their instincts. If they feel something is not right, leave.
He tells kids it’s not appropriate to let a stranger touch you. He also stresses to be a good witness. If someone is lurking or making the child uncomfortable, take notice of what the person looks like and what he or she is wearing.
We’ve all heard it about stranger danger since we were kids, but most kids are naturally trusting. Unfortunately, predators take advantage of children’s innocence.
“Somebody pulls up in a car and they have a leash in their hand and a picture of a puppy. The person may say something like, ‘Would you get in the car and help me find my puppy because I don’t want my dog to get hit by a car.’ They use all kinds of lures to get those kids in the car,” Sgt. Haschel said. “We need to prepare our children to deal with that because we are trying to do our best as parents to raise our family to trust one another and be good people. Our first instinct is sure let’s go help them. But we have some evil in the world. Yes, it’s nice to help people when you can, but let’s go get an adult and tell them what happened.”
Sgt. Haschel asks parents to make sure their children understand to never get in the car with anybody they don’t know, even if they offer the child food, candy, a puppy or a ride.
Also let kids know that even if a stranger knows your child’s name they aren’t to be trusted. Those looking to abduct children will look for a child’s name on a backpack or on their shoes. Make sure the name is written where no one can see it on the outside. For instance, write the name on the tongue of the shoe.
Sgt. Haschel knows how predators are portrayed on TV or in the movies, but he says that’s not the case.
“You can’t stereotype,” he said. “These people that are doing these things come from all walks of life. It’s not what you might think of in the movies or if you watch some of the crime shows. You can’t have that mind set. You have to be prepared for almost anything.”