It was a sunny Saturday morning, I was dining alfresco at a restaurant on a busy street, casually sipping my coffee when I noticed a little girl wander past our table and down the street. Her mother was deep in conversation and didn’t notice.
I didn’t want to cause alarm by yelling at her to watch her child from across the busy tables so I walked toward the little girl, she turned around and saw me, let out a scream and started running toward the road.
Her mother must have recognised her scream because she looked up and yelled: ‘Stop following my daughter!’
The mother ran towards her terrified daughter, giving me a scandalous look as she passed me. I was gobsmacked.
‘She was heading towards the road…’ I started.
‘I’ve taught her to be afraid of strangers.’ She replied, guiding her little girl back to their table, giving our table a wide berth.
Okay, I’m all for teaching our kids a healthy amount of ‘stranger danger’ but in this situation, this little girl’s fear of strangers could have cost her life.
I’ve volunteered with kids for over 15 years, I’m a normal, regular person. So, why should this little girl feel scared around me? My first thought… the world has gone mad!
I read an article recently about an incident in a Play Ground which a man entered without children, despite the sign clearly stating that all adults must be accompanied by children!!! Yes, that’s right, people.
After being evicted by a group of enthusiastic vigilante parents, one mother took the time to ask what he was doing there and he said he was missing his children back home in Oman and he was enjoying watching the kids play, who were around the same age as his own children. I felt so sad that this lovely dad, simply missing his kids, was atomically considered a perv by hyper-vigilant parents.
Yes, too many adults have violated the trust of parents and children but is vigilante-ism and putting fear into our kids really the answer?
How does this impact on our kids learning to respect others? Can you respect someone you fear?
I want to teach my kids to respect strangers, to be polite, to accept help when they need it. It could save their lives.
But I’ve also taught them boundaries. They know that their bodies are precious and private and not to go anywhere with anyone, without permission from their dad and I. The fact is, a lot of the time, the people targeting our kids are people they know and not so often strangers. Are we shooting arrows in the wrong direction here?
I don’t know the answer but I know that teaching our kids to run away from people who are trying to help them is probably doing more harm than good. Do you agree?
The Mother Company recently posted this article with the Top Four Safety Tips for Kids –
The Uh Oh Feeling – Teaching them to trust their instincts
Check first – Don’t accept gifts or go anywhere with strangers unless mum or dad say it’s okay
Boss of My Body – Teaching our kids from an early age that their body is precious and they are in charge of it
Get smart about getting lost – Don’t lose it when you’re lost, just stay put and wait for mum
Great, practical advice that keeps our kids safe, without putting unnecessary fear into them.