The “Stranger Danger”Message Must Go.

“He was my friend.” October, 2014

The term “stranger danger” was coined roughly 30 years ago in an attempt to keep children safe. Cases like that of Etan Patz and Adam Walsh had parents panicking that their children could be abducted at any moment.

Etan Patz: the 6-year-old went missing after leaving his family’s SoHo apartment to catch a bus to school (see full article).

Adam Walsh: the 6-year-old went to a Sears in a Hollywood, Fla., mall with his mother. As she browsed, he played video games a few aisles away. When she returned, he was gone (see full article).

However, “stranger danger” was determined to have adverse effects: it causes children to become more susceptible to endure abuse from those they already know and trust. David Finkelhor of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire explained that “children taken by strangers or slight acquaintances represent one hundredth of one percent of all missing children.” Further, the Child Rescue Network reports (using data from the Center for Disease Control) that over 90% of children are victimized by someone that they know.

My question is: what are better techniques that we can utilize to protect our children from victimization?


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