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Stranger approached my child

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Maple00

Stranger approached my child

Two days ago my 12 years old daughter told me that in february this year, right before schools were closed because of the pandemic, she had been approached by a stranger when she was coming home from school. She says that they were alone, and there was plenty of space to walk freely, yet he walked just a little far from her and mumbled nursery rhymes as he walked. My daughter said he was smiling and looking at her. Thankfully though, I've taught her well to stay away from strangers. She'd bolted right out of the playground of their school and ran straight home. I was shivering as I listened to her speak. I am deeply concerned about the safety of my child. As a working mother, I am unable to pick my child up from school myself, and there isn't really anyone that I can rely on. My daughter is scared of going back to school now, afraid that she might see that man again. I don't know what I should do, please help me out.

Kathryn xx
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Janine-RO

Re: Stranger approached my child

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Hi @Maple00 , 

 

I'm so sorry that happened to your daughter, it sounds like it would have been really frightening for her, and I imagine as a parent it would have been really hard hearing about it so long after it happened. It sounds like you've done a really good job in helping your daughter to be alert and aware of her safety, which is really fantastic, and it's great that she was comfortable telling you what had happened.  

 

I'm wondering if you have reported what happened to her school at all? Schools can be a really good resource to lean on, and can make students aware to be extra careful when walking home etc.  Is your daughter able to walk home with friends at all? I have a child who's a similar age who has started walking to and from school this year, our rule is that she has to walk with friends, and we also got her a cheap prepaid mobile phone (one that calls and texts only) so that she can let us know when she's arrived at school safely, and call if there's any problems. 

 

It looks like you might be located overseas- but hopefully this information will still be helpful - this is a list of recommendations from an Australian website that I thought were really straightforward and helpful for teaching younger kids about staying safe: (Source is here

 

Young children may not recognise when adults pose a threat. Most predators are likely to seem friendly, or they may try to entice children with a treat or a sad story. But children can learn to recognise and trust their own feelings.

 

Protective behaviours encourage children to recognise unsafe situations and to take action through:

  • Recognising early warning signs, like butterflies in the stomach, sweaty hands, goose bumps or a racing heart.
  • Understanding when to take action. Children need to understand the difference between feeling scared and still having fun, like during a movie; feeling scared but still being in control, like at the dentist; and feeling scared and not being in control, like when they are lost or being harmed by someone. This is a personal emergency and the child needs to seek help.
  • Taking action. This might mean talking to an adult they can trust, going to a safe place, or even dialling triple zero (000).

Practical tips for parents to keep children safe

  • Always provide the supervision children need to remain safe.
  • Trust your instincts if behaviour from a friend or relative makes you or your child feel uncomfortable.
  • Believe your child if they tell you about something that made them feel uncomfortable.
  • Make sure your child understands what touching is OK (like from the doctor) and what is not OK (touches to the private parts that make them feel angry, upset or confused).
  • Explain that sometimes adults do things that are wrong and they should tell you if this happens.
  • Many abusers make children keep their abuse a secret. Help your children to learn the difference between safe and unsafe secrets. Teach them that secrets are only OK if they give someone a nice surprise.
  • Have a family password that your child can remember. If someone tells your child they have come to pick them up, the child can test them with the password.
  • Make sure your children know where to go for help.

This brochure from NAPCAN has more tips on keeping your children safe from sexual abuse.

Staying safe with strangers

Here are some tips you can give to young children to help them stay safe from strangers:

  • Strangers are people you don’t know. Most strangers are good people. But you don’t have to always trust or believe an adult.
  • If a stranger wants to talk to you, always check with your parents first.
  • Strangers may make up stories or offer treats to make you go with them. Never go with a stranger — no matter what they say. Never, ever get in a car with a stranger.
  • If you are on your own, always stay somewhere busy and well-lit where other people can see you.
  • Make sure your parents or carers always know where you are.
  • Sometimes you might need to talk to a stranger for help, for example if you are lost. Look for a mum with children or go into a shop, police station, service station, library or school.
  • If someone is following you or grabs you, scream for help as loud as you can. Shout ‘Go away, I don’t know you’ so other people will understand.

I hope those tips help a bit for you and your daughter- hopefully with a few strategies up her sleeve she will be able to feel a bit safer.  If she is still experiencing high levels of anxiety that are interfering with her life, it could also be a good idea for her to have a chat to a counsellor, does her school have a school counsellor she could talk to?