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Time to ditch stranger danger

Marsha L Riley
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I once found myself in a police station because I helped out a little girl. 

You see, in our society, we’ve become so afraid of groomers that we no longer make it possible to be our brother’s keeper.

 A group of girls were all at the bus terminal in the city, one of whom was coming over to my home for a play date with my daughter. Without thinking twice I inquired about the other girls, to ensure that they all had acceptable means of getting home. One of the girls said she had to take public transport home and that did not sit well with me. We tried calling her mom but never got through so I offered to drop her home. 

The mom felt insulted by my actions. She thought I was interfering and even said that my actions suggested to her that I thought she was negligent because she allowed her nine year old daughter to take a taxi alone. 

In another incident I’ve had a little girl come up to me after only a few interactions to say to me that she was being abused at home. Of course, I would be going against the law if I did not report it. 

I can go on listing several examples of me getting myself in trouble all because I wanted to help.

Then we wonder why human trafficking seems to be spiraling out if control?

We become enraged when girls go lost and surface weeks later, dead. We always seem to ask at that point if no one around knew what was going on. 

We wonder why our young people seem to be mannerless and lack respect for their neighbours. Why is their generation growing up lacking many of the softer skills like striking up a conversation with people in a line? Why are they more and more unable to work in teams?

The sad truth is, while we teach stranger danger, over 60 per cent of abused children are abused at the hand of their own parents as compared to 16 per cent by unknown persons.  So is stranger danger really our issue?

 In the US alone, five children die daily of abuse and the most common form of child abuse is neglect. 

 Based on the stats I would have to say that strangers may, actually, be a child’s only hope. A passer-by willing to step in, listen and take action. 

 So how do strike a balance? 

 The answer lies in shades of grey. Titles such as stranger danger must be done away with.  I am sure in a creative world like ours we can find something just as catchy that speaks more to appropriateness.

Children must be taught at various levels what kinds of conversations are appropriate and with whom. They must be taught how to differentiate between kindness and grooming. And I dare say, they must be taught that these actions are across the board. 

If parents learnt to respect boundaries of children then I see no reason why they would struggle with interactions with strangers?

 Parents should not use gifts to bribe children, so this should never be acceptable and therefore would lead to no confusion if a stranger does it. 

Parents should not touch children unnecessarily and most certainly should never speak to or touch and child in and way that hurts them. So again, if this action is practised at home I see no problem with children easily understanding what is allowed and not allowed by a stranger.

Now I know some idiot, and yes I called you an idiot, would try to take this article to an extreme and that right there will prove my point. 

We seem to have underestimated the intelligence of our children or we have become so lazy that broad-brushing and black and white policies have become the norm. 

We’ve stopped taking the time to teach thoroughly. To think about the broad picture and to explain each situation in its entirety to our children. 

I know this article maybe hard to swallow, but I hope you’d receive it with an open mind, as open as the heart with which is was written, so that our children would stand a chance at experiencing a culture of love and togetherness. A culture where the village looks out for one another. 

 Even when individual values do not mesh, they can at least show concern and, at the very least, be courteous to each other.


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