Burlington incident reminds parents to talk to kids about “tricky” people

Summer holidays and school break are finally here and a recent, unsettling incident in Burlington, Ontario is a reminder to parents to talk to children about “tricky” people. Kids will be outdoors more at parks, recreation centres, pools, friends, and going to camps. This conversation needs to happen now because parents won’t always be around to protect them. The best line of defence for kids is to teach them to protect themselves by staying alert and practising what to do in potentially dangerous situations.

SOS 4 Kids spoke to City News Toronto about the Burlington incident and was able to provide parents and children with some useful tips.


It is thanks to a vigilant woman and to City News media coverage that the man in question came forward to police. Fortunately, the man was cleared by police, but the major concern that still remains is the willingness of the two boys to engage with a stranger without considering the potential dangers.

Please remind your children about the tips below or if you think your kids are “parent deaf” and are unlikely to listen to you, then enrol them in a SOS 4 Kids personal safety course.

Teach your children not to go anywhere with anyone without first getting permission from you or an adult in charge.

Talk to your kids about “tricky people” and some of the tricks they use to fool children. Teach them to stay away from strangers unless they need help from a safe stranger. Examples of safe strangers are a mom with kids or a clerk in a store. It is important that they are aware that even people they know could still be dangerous. Most child abductions and abuse are committed by someone the child already knows.

Teach them to stay alert. Tell children to always pay attention to their surroundings and to know who and what are nearby. This means no texting or using headphones while walking.

Adults should ask other adults for help, not children.
It is inappropriate for an adult to ask children for help with things like directions or to find a lost pet. Tell them not to get lured by anything (cute bunnies behind the tree, remote control cars, being a star on a TV show ….). An adult asking a child for help is a big red flag and children should ignore adults who approach them. It isn’t rude to ignore adults in these situations. It is for their own safety.

Use the buddy system. There is safety in numbers. When your children are out in the community, make sure they are always with at least one other person. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents and have contact numbers in case of an emergency.

Show your children where they can go for help in the community. Walk your neighbourhood with your child and point out safe places that your children can go for help if they need it. These places should include police, fire and EMS stations, schools, community centres, churches, businesses, or even trusted neighbours.

Always know the whereabouts of your child. You should know the routes they use when they are in the community and tell them never to change the route without telling you first. Have your child text or call you when they arrive at their destination or when they arrive home.

NO! GO! YELL! TELL! These four words will help your children remember what to do if they feel threatened. Be assertive! Kick, scream, fight and run if they are ever grabbed or feel endangered.