“What do you do when a stranger approaches you?” is a great question to ask our children. In fact, it's included in one of the required Wolf Adventures.
Wolf Adventure – Call of the Wild 5a: Show or demonstrate what to do when a stranger approaches you, your family, or your belongings.
This post will focus on helping our Scouts know what to do if they're approached by a stranger. When I began my research, I searched for “stranger danger,” but I found that the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) doesn't support the use of that phrase. One reason is that many missing children are abducted by someone they know.
If you only talk to children about the potential danger of strangers, they may think that only strangers can hurt them. They may also be scared to approach a stranger (such as a clerk in a store) who could help them in an emergency situation. Read this to find out more.
We need to prepare our Scouts so they will know “how to act when it matters.”
According to NCMEC's document Tips for Parents: Preventing Abduction, they studied over 9,000 abduction attempts and discovered that most abductions:
- Involve a suspect driving a vehicle.
- Occur when the child is traveling to or away from school.
- Occur between 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.
- Involve girls and children between the ages of 10 -14.
The organization also found that the top five methods used during abduction attempts are:
- Offering a ride.
- Offering candy or sweets.
- Asking questions.
- Offering money.
- Offering, looking for, or showing an animal.
So, how do we as parents and den leaders help our Scouts identify and react to dangerous situations? NCMEC's document, Tips for Parents: Safety Scenarios lists these:
1. It’s OK to be rude if someone is making you uncomfortable.
Practice: Pretend you're at a playground. An adult comes up and offers to buy you a popsicle from the ice cream truck. What do you do?
2. Always go places with a friend and stay with the group.
Practice: You're walking home from school with your friends, and one of them wants to stop at the convenience store. He tells you to go on without him. What do you do?
3. You should never approach or get into a vehicle without permission.
Practice: NCMEC recommends practicing with a parked car. Have the boys pretend they're walking past the car when you ask them to help you find a lost puppy.
4. Don't open the door when you're home alone.
Practice: Have an adult stand outside the closed meeting room door, knocking on it. Pretend you're home alone when someone starts knocking on the door. What do you do? What if they keep knocking on the door?
5. Make sure your parents know where you are and where you are going.
Practice: Pretend you're outside playing with your friends. One of them invites you to go to his house to grab some cookies. What do you do?
6. If you and your parents get separated at a store and you need help, ask a police officer, a store clerk or a parent with children.
Practice: Tell your den leader about people you might approach for help. Tell her what you would say to the person you approach.
7. If someone grabs you, kick, yell and pull away.
Practice: Pretend someone is grabbing you. Don't just scream because people might think you're with your mom and you're just misbehaving. You want to yell, “You're not my mom!” or “Leave me alone!”
I hope none of our Wolves ever need to use any of these tactics, but I'm glad they'll know what to do if it happens.
Yours in Scouting,