When you are teaching children about personal safety, activities for stranger danger can help to reinforce what they are learning. The types of activities you choose will depend on the age of the children involved.
Examples of Activities for Stranger Danger
The following examples of activities for stranger danger are listed for different age groups:
Preschool and Kindergarten Children
For this age group, you can start by showing the child a series of photographs. Include some family members as well as examples of people they may see on a regular basis, including the school crossing guard, letter carrier, etc. The object of the exercise is to teach the child that even though they may see some adults on a regular basis, that doesn't automatically mean that they can be considered friends.
Involve children in this age group in some role playing games to see how they would react in some situations where stranger danger is involved. This is a great way to make sure that they really understand the lessons you have been trying to teach them about this important topic.
Acting in the role of the stranger, try to take the child by the hand or arm or give them candy. Ask for help to find a lost kitten or puppy. You can also include a scenario where the stranger approaches the child and says that they were sent by the child's parents because of an emergency situation. Monitor the child's reaction carefully to see how well they handle the situation.
Keep practicing often until the child feels comfortable in dealing with these kinds of situations. You might also want to have the child practice what to do if someone attempts to abduct them. In that kind of situation, it's perfectly acceptable for the child to kick, punch, and scream in an attempt to get away.
Part of talking to children about stranger danger is teaching them about "good touch/bad touch." Explain that some parts of their bodies are private and are not to be touched by other people. Tell them that if they are touched in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, that they are to tell you about it immediately.
You can also add that the person who touched them might ask them to keep it a secret. This is a secret that you need to know about, and the child will not be in trouble for telling you about it.
Tweens and Teens
As children get older, activities for stranger danger can start to focus on Internet safety. At this age, young people need to understand that simply because they feel that they know someone from interacting with them on a discussion forum or a chat room doesn't mean that they are a friend. People may not be who they claim to be online.
Students need to be cautioned about revealing personal information while online. Even details that they don't think will identify them, such as the city where they live and their school colors, can be used by an online predator to get an idea of their location. These people are very good at engaging young people in conversation and keep track of the bits of information they are given.
If your tween or teen explains that a person they met online is a friend, ask them the following questions to help them understand that they might not know this individual as well as they thought:
- Do you know your friend's real name or by a screen name only?
- Do you know the person's true age?
- Do you know where they live, work or go to school?
Teach your children that if anyone says or does anything to make them feel uncomfortable online that they can tell you about it. You want to keep the lines of communication open so that your children know they can come to you with any questions or concerns they may have.