Recognizing Dangerous Strangers

Simple answer about whether a child can recognize a dangerous stranger is no. Just as an adult can be wrong with first impressions a child can be as well. Relying on the safety of your children to recognize danger places them in danger. There are more reliable rules similar to adult interactions.


Parents need to communicate with children that we need to be friendly, but as children they must solicit input from parents when dealing with other adults.  It might mean adults that the children are familiar with. If parents communicate with their children about the adults in their life, the children would see keeping a secret as inappropriate. Children are more harmed by known adults than the dangerous stranger so children need to be able to communicate with parents and know when to ask parents whenever an adult wants to isolate them from the present environment

Children need to communicate to parents the plans for activities away from home so parents can come and help find the child.  If an adult wants to remove the child from the environment, the child must be instructed to ask a parent or assigned caregiver, the one the parents placed in charge of the child. Staying in the original locations is important to adults and children.

Remain in the Open

One of the major rules is that you never allow a stranger to take you to another location.  This is the same rule for children as for adults.  Instruct your children to never accept the lie I will not hurt you if you come quietly. This is not a quiet moment for a child or an adult. This is when they need to scream and keep screaming. Safe adults will wonder about the noise and hopefully stop and look or at least call law enforcement.  Most likely the dangerous adult will move on.

Code Words

Children should be instructed to never leave school without permission from the school. The playgrounds are large areas and near impossible to be supervised by an adult. An adult might approach a child and say the parents are having an emergency and sent him. The child should have an unusual code word this person must state, but even than the child can not leave without letting the school know first.  The School would be notified by name of the person who will come for the child and the school must ask for identification.

The vulnerable child needs to communicate with parents to be able to keep himself safe away from the parent.  The child cannot sort out dangerous from safe adults.  He needs the help of the family for his safety.