As private investigators in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it’s our job to learn everything we can about specific people. The information we gather is a force for good, often leading directly to justice being served. Not everyone has these skills and resources necessary to learn about strangers. Of course, that’s why we need to be a little careful when dealing with people we’ve never met.
The harsh reality is that children are particularly vulnerable. Those with malicious intent can take advantage of their lack of experience and intuition. This is why it’s incredibly important to teach your children about how to deal with strangers. We’ve put together a few starting points for when you sit them down to talk.
Just because a stranger looks nice doesn’t mean they are. Fortunately, most children don’t regularly encounter bad people as they grow up. Much of what they do know about this unfortunate aspect of society comes from television and movies, where the bad guys are dressed up to look menacing and evil. It may be difficult for a child to grasp, but they need to understand that in real life, the bad guys usually look just like everyone else.
There are some “strangers” who can be trusted more than others. In fact, not having anyone to turn to for help could make a dangerous situation even worse. Make sure your child knows how to spot those who can be counted on to help, like police officers or employees at certain stores or restaurants. It’s important to teach your child to avoid those that can’t be trusted, but it’s equally important to teach them to find those they can.
It’s perfectly okay to say “NO”. Respecting and listening to adults is generally an indicator of a good, well-behaved kid. But it’s important that they realize that if an adult is making them feel uncomfortable or asking them to do something they know they shouldn’t, they should say no and get away as quickly as possible. This could lead to some minor misunderstandings down the road, but teaching your child to be a little assertive and hardheaded could protect them from harm.
Even people you’ve met before can be strangers. Your child may think that if they’ve encountered an adult before, especially when in your presence, that they’re one of the good guys. The unfortunate reality is that this isn’t always the case. Make sure your child knows the difference between those they can trust and those they cannot. It can be a little murky at times, but you need to keep your child in the know.