At Infinity Taekwondo, we spend a good amount of time discussing stranger danger and going over drills that give children the appropriate skills and responses to stranger related situations. I feel that having a solid understanding of what a stranger is and how to deal with an encounter with a dangerous individual is an invaluable skill.
As with anything self-defense related, repetition is key.
I’m writing these posts for you, the parent, in hopes that you will take few moments once a month to discuss stranger danger and stranger awareness with your children. I want to help you give a definition of what a stranger is, why they are dangerous, and give them a sense of situational awareness.
How I present the subject:
Here at Infinity Taekwondo, we use a discussion format. The more interactive the kids are with the discussion the better. Rather than telling them each definition and explaining the importance of the subject, I ask each of our students questions and help to guide their response.
What is a Stranger?
I simply ask this to test their understanding of what a stranger is. It’s important for children to understand the definition of a stranger so they can grasp why they are dangerous. Try to stick to the most simple definition possible when helping them define it.
A stranger is simply someone whom the child does not know.
I have them repeat that back to me.
Why are strangers dangerous?
Once it’s understood what a stranger is, I move onto asking why strangers are dangerous. Explain that you never know what strangers are going to do. Some strangers’ intentions could be to do them harm, while others could just be good, normal people.
The uncertainty of their intentions is what makes them dangerous and that’s why avoiding interactions with potentially harmful strangers is so important.
Are all strangers bad people?
Make it clear that this doesn’t mean all strangers are bad people. Our goal is not to build social anxiety and fear, but understanding, awareness, and the appropriate responses. Remember, we don’t want them to feel anxiety around people they don’t know, but rather we want to teach them to recognize a dangerous situation. In fact, we want kids to seek out help from certain strangers in many situations. An example of a stranger whom we should teach them to go to in times of need is an Authority Figure.
What is an Authority Figure?
This is another definition I make all my students memorize. An authority figure could be either a stranger or someone they know who is in a position of authority. It is important that children are not afraid to approach these individuals for help. I make sure everyone understands what an authority figure is by plainly asking them “What is an authority figure?”. Then, I have them give me some examples. These could include:
- Police Officer
- Paramedic or EMT
Asking “What does it mean to have Situational Awareness?” is a great way to open this discussion. Situational awareness means to be aware of everything going on around you. Concerning the topic of self-defense, this is true for adults too. We should always be aware of who’s around us, how they are acting, and what they are doing. If we are aware and able to recognize potentially dangerous behavior, it gives us an opportunity to excuse ourselves from the situation before it escalates.
What are some signs of a bad stranger?
This question will show a child’s ability to recognize a person who is acting in a manner that might indicate they are dangerous. I tell my students that any stranger who makes them feel uncomfortable is showing signs of being a bad stranger and to trust their instincts. Remember to point out things that should make them feel uncomfortable and explain why. Examples of these could be:
- A stranger watching them
- Strangers who tries to get them to come over with candy, a puppy, a video game
- A stranger who tries to walk up to them
I explain that no matter how far away these strangers are, any distance is too close. If a stranger makes them feel uncomfortable, their immediate response should be to tell an authority figure. Do not wait.
What should you tell the authority figure?
The more details a child can remember the better:
- Guy or girl?
- Hair Color?
- What were they wearing?
How long should you wait to tell an authority figure?
I can’t stress this part enough. They should immediately tell an authority figure when the stranger makes them feel uncomfortable! This does two things; it insures that the child removes themselves from a potentially harmful situation and it helps the authority figure to be aware and on the lookout for a potential threat.
Stranger-Danger, Stranger Awareness, and Self-Defense are topics where repetition is key. The more children hear and understand the better.
I advise having a monthly conversation with your children where you ask them questions and listen to their responses and guide them to the appropriate responses.
Having the ability and understanding to recognize a potentially dangerous individual by the way they are acting is an invaluable skill to teach any child.
Next week’s Post: Stranger Awareness and Stranger Danger (Part2) Teaching Your Child To Defend Themselves
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To enroll at Infinity Taekwondo, please visit us on the web at www.infinity-tkd.com/membership/ or call us at 979.587.5423