By Diane Forrest
I love the move Kindergarten Cop. I loved watching Arnold Swarzenegger trying to communicate with kindergarteners. It didn’t take him long to realize it's not as easy as one might think. One of the scenes at the end of the movie talks about strangers. His partner, Phoebe, tells the children they must never never, never talk to strangers. But, it was ok to talk to dogs who are strangers. It wasn't long after that discussion that the bad guy shows up at the school and all the children point at him and yell stranger!! They ended up getting the bad guy and living happily ever after.
When I was growing up I was taught don’t talk to strangers, don't take candy from a stranger, and tell a policeman if a stranger bothers you. Kids today seem to be so much smarter than when I was going up. They live in the electronic and information age and you may forget to teach them the basics, like stay away from strangers. Here are some other examples to teach young children:
- "Don't talk to strangers"
- "Don't tell anyone your name"
- "Don't let strangers touch your food or drink"
- "Don't help strangers
- "Don't let strangers touch your face"
- "If someone acts too friendly in a theater, complain to an usher or the manager"
One thing to remember is too much constant warning is not a good thing either. The child will then mistrust any adult, even those who will help them. In situations where the child is in danger for other reasons, avoiding strangers (who might help) could in fact be dangerous itself, such as in the case of an 11-year-old Boy Scout who avoided rescue searchers because he feared they might want to 'steal him. The fear some parents have can cause them to keep the child indoors and then develop other issues such as nature deficit disorder.
I had a problem with my son when he was younger. I had gone to a party at my church and he went with me. I left to get the pizza, but he wanted to stay at the church and keep playing. Once I left, however, he decided that he wanted to go after all. He walked out but didn't see me, so he walked all the way to the main road, stood there crying. A man who lived across the street saw him, and took him to the pizza place, the one we normally went to every Friday night. But I had gone to a different one that night. Luckily, the people at the plaza place he went to recognized him. He gave them our phone number, and my mother went to get him. The whole incident probably lasted 15 minutes, but to me it seemed like hours and was the worst nightmare ever. Luckily I live in a small town, and even at that young age, he knew alot of people and he knew our phone number. It took me a while to let him out of my sight again, but now he is grown and has learned not to talk to strangers.
Here is a quiz to share with your kids, or children in your life, to make them aware of strangers.