Why shouldn't we talk to strangers?

"Don't go to strangers": Talking to children about distance

If children go out alone, parents usually have no control over when strangers approach them. It is all the more important to talk to your son or daughter about dealing with strangers. This also includes explaining: "Sometimes you can be rude."

Children should be friendly in their dealings with others, polite and open. Almost all parents want that. At the same time, many mothers and fathers fear that their child could be too trusting of the wrong person at the wrong time. Statistically, attacks by strangers on children are extremely rare - in most cases of abuse and violence, the perpetrators come from family or friends. Experts nevertheless advise parents to talk to their children about dealing with strangers after a certain age.

At the latest in elementary school age

When and how can you convey to a child that there are people who may not be kind to them? "From the moment when children are out and about on their own, at the latest when they are in primary school, parents should seek a conversation with the children," says psychologist and safety trainer Ulrike Herle from Munich. As a rule, children are able to understand such things - formulated in a child-friendly way - from the age of around four. Parents could make their child understand: "Most adults are fine and make sure that you are fine, but not all." Therefore, it is better to keep a little distance from strangers first.

Get help when in doubt

If a conversation about behavior towards strangers does not come about on its own, parents should initiate one calmly, encourages Andreas Mayer from the police crime prevention of the states and the federal government in Stuttgart. "It is always helpful to look at a book on the subject together or, if in doubt, to get support from a counseling center."

Practice behavior

According to the experts, it is important to discuss a few clear rules with the children. Herle emphasizes that it is not just about the fact that someone "out there" could be angry, but rather about giving the children the tools they need to know how to behave in certain situations. Parents and children should first of all define who is considered a stranger - or, conversely, a confidante. "Name a manageable group of people who are not strangers or who the child is allowed to get into the car with," advises Mayer. Parents and children can also discuss what things can be done in the family, but not in front of or with strangers.

Take off only at home

Carmen Kerger-Ladleif, specialist at the "Dunkelziffer" association in Hamburg, cites the preference of young children to undress as an example. "Here the parents have to make it clear: 'At home, between us, that's fine, but when there are visitors, not and outside either'." On the one hand, it is about conveying to the child that his body is something special that belongs only to him - but on the other hand, it is also about making the children aware of the limits of others. Because: "The others might not even want to see it naked while drinking coffee."

improve self-confidence

Parents shouldn't be afraid to address supposedly clich├ęd situations, such as "Someone wants to give you candy or show you kittens." Here, too, the experts advise giving children clear rules: don't accept anything, don't go with you, don't open the front door without asking mom or dad beforehand. "You can't warn children about everything and everything," says Kerger-Ladleif. Especially since the problem is usually not strangers but people who are known to the children in some way. "It is generally important to strengthen children's confidence in their own feelings and to encourage them to listen to them," explains the qualified pedagogue.

Respect boundaries

This presupposes that the child is allowed its own limits. And they often run where parents least suspect them. "If a child has to keep putting on a sweater that it scratches, and if the parents ignore the resistance, they signal to the child: 'I don't care about your feelings'." But being able to trust your own feelings strengthens self-confidence. And, according to Mayer, self-confidence is a good protection - against strangers as well as familiar people.

Establish rules

The psychologist Ulrike Herle recommends parents to make certain agreements with children. Examples are: "If something happened to you that you don't think is okay, tell me about it. No matter what it is, I will not scold you", "If someone does something bad to you, then you can shout with words and also defend kicks "," You may be rude "or" Today xy picks you up and nobody else. "

These rules protect children

The organization "Safe-Strong", which teaches children in training courses how to assert themselves in dangerous situations, recommends these safety rules for children and parents:

  • Confident appearance! Children who walk on the street with their heads held high and shoulders taut appear stronger and do not fall so easily into the hands of perpetrators, who in most cases choose weak, shy victims.
  • Keys instead of spray! A defense spray can fail in an emergency because dirt has settled or it is buried at the bottom of the satchel. It is better if it throws a bunch of keys in the face of the attacker.
  • Get off the car door! A car stops and the driver asks for directions - a potentially dangerous situation. Under no circumstances should children approach the side door directly. If you stay near the side mirror and use the car door as protection between you and the driver, you cannot be pulled inside and run away faster.
  • Shout "fire" instead of "help"! Those who are harassed should not call for help, because many passers-by ignore such calls because they do not want to be drawn into an argument. It is better to shout "fire". This increases awareness and the perpetrator flees.
  • Escape, but with a goal! If children notice that they are being followed on their way home, they should run - but not haphazardly. It is best to flee to a public, well-frequented place with many people, for example a restaurant or a pub.
  • "Dial emergency!" If the child has a cell phone, it should be switched on in a lonely way. If a persecutor cannot be shaken off and there is no "life raft" in sight, the child should always dial the police emergency number 110, which still works when the mobile phone budget is exhausted.
  • "Strike!" If an attacker still persists, the child should defend themselves with all their might: bite, scratch or kick the genitals - anything is allowed if there is real danger.

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