I heard a public service announcement on my public radio station today, the jist of which was be sure to tell your children to never talk to strangers.
Since most of the people a child sees any given day (if they live in a metro area) would be people they have never met, that means they are being taught to go around purposely ignoring and treating as threatening almost every other human being they see in the course of their day.
We need to teach children that there is that one nut that will hurt or abduct you. But what about teaching them SKILLS….
the SKILLS they need to relate to people, meet new people, and navigate each encounter?
I agree in general that CHILDREN don’t need to talk to strangers, but their PARENTS definitely should. But I typically observe that the parents avoid contact with strangers too, because they are trying to model the behavior they want from their children–and in the process, adults all over the country are ignoring, treating as dangerous. the very people that could become friends, spouses, leads to new jobs or business (if self employed)… This is complete lunacy!
Parents are the role models. So what if they model street wise behavior…and model the idea—to use an old cliche–that “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.”
Parents can model common streetwise intelligence–how to determine if any given person is safe to talk to: things like, where is this occurring –a dark alley or a safe place? And is the person acting appropriately, making eye contact (but not too much) and so on..
What I see are young parents completely isolated from others in a hostile (not) world, ensconcing their children in their apron strings…
… Both adults and children need the street wise skills to make their way in the world; skills that are a complete enigma because of this ludicrous blanket admonition of “never talk to strangers”.
So, show your kids HOW to relate to each stranger in a smart fashion, let them begin to practice talking to strangers while you are present, and as they get older, armed with streetwise-ness, encourage them to go out alone with that old cliche:
“A stranger is (might be) just a friend you haven’t met yet.”
Thank You for considering this important concept. Have a friendly day.