Remember the good old days when your mom would kiss you goodbye and tell you to be back before dark? And you’d roam through your neighborhood without a care in the world except who would be available to play with you? There were no cell phones or GPS systems or microchip devices to keep track of your whereabouts — just faith that you’d make your way home in time for dinner. Unfortunately, however, those times are a long-lost thing of the past. Kids today have so many more dangers lurking around every single corner they turn, and it’s our responsibility as parents to teach them to keep up their guard.
I was once again reminded of the crazy world in which we live this past weekend when a very scary incident occurred just two blocks from my own home. A friend of mine was hosting a slumber party for her daughter’s twelfth birthday, and while one of the party guests was gathering her sleeping bag from the sidewalk, a white minivan pulled up to the curb. The female driver rolled down the window and asked the girl if she needed help. The girl told her no, but the woman then suggested the girl come inside the car so that she could help her. Luckily, the frightened girl had enough sense to run directly into the house and alert my friend who then called the police. The suspect was regrettably never caught, but the police officers stayed and gave all the girls a reminder talk about stranger danger.
And as soon as I heard this story, I, too, sat MY kids down and shared it with them. I wanted them to know that a “stranger” is not necessarily a creepy old man in a beat-up clunker of a car. In fact, a “bad” person could actually be a WOMAN driving a perfectly NICE car. And yes, it pains me to have to put such horrific fears in their little eight-year-old heads, but that is the unfortunate reality in which we live. Like it or not, kids NEED to know that the world is not all sunshine and rainbows. I want my kids to be informed and prepared should a situation like this happen to them.
So I encourage YOU to do the same. Talk to your kids. Tell them this story. Even if you’ve microchipped them and armed them with a cell phone in each hand, teach them what to do — to run, to scream, to find a neighbor, to call 911. Their safety could depend on it.