Strangers. A topic most adults don't much think about until they have children. As adults, we avoid anyone who we feel threatened by or gives us the instinctual feeling that we should stay away. However it's important to go back to square one when talking with a child about strangers.
What should you tell your children? Which strangers are safe to interact with and which ones aren't? You want them to know the difference on being polite to adults, but also knowing what they should and shouldn't say or what they should or shouldn't do when someone they don't know approaches them. Keep in mind a traditional stranger is anyone your child or family doesn't know. The stranger philosophy has changed over the years and new ideas on talking to your child about this are explored more in the post "Tricky People Are the New Strangers," by the Checklist Mommy.
A doctor or police officer is a stranger, but we classify them as "safe strangers." You can teach your child that these types of strangers are ok to talk to or approach. It's also very important to teach your child that not all dangerous strangers look scary. Cartoons and books tend to make the bad guy look like an evil, scary villain, but this is not always the case. If your child is ever in a predicament where they feel threatened or become separated from you or a guardian, it's important they know what to do, and which strangers they can turn to for help. The National Crime Prevention Council advises parents to point out easy to recognize strangers when out with your child, such as teachers or police officers. But what happens when these options aren't around? Some parents tell their children to find another mommy with kids if they get lost in a place like a mall or grocery store.
It's smart to come up with a plan of action or family code in case a child gets separated from their family or guardian or feels threatened. A meeting area should always be established when you go to any public space such as a shopping mall or grocery store. Tell your child to meet you there if they get lost and to wait until you find them.
What plans of action or advice do you have for parents talking to their child(ren) about stranger safety?