SOS 4 Kids talks about “Tricky People” vs “Stranger Danger” on BT Toronto

Breakfast Television Toronto interviews SOS 4 Kids co-founder about the Tricky People concept and techniques parents can use to reinforce this important safety message.

SOS 4 Kids believes the term Tricky People paints a more accurate picture of a potentially dangerous person and that a better message than “stranger danger” to reinforce with kids is: “Do not go anywhere with anyone without asking permission first from a parent or caregiver!”

We still teach kids to not talk to strangers. However, we also tell them that not all strangers are dangerous and if kids need help when in an emergency situation or when lost, they are to approach a “safer” stranger for help. Examples of safer strangers are a mom with children, a store clerk, a teacher, etc. It is impossible to guarantee children that someone they don’t know is a safe person, but in situations where no other option is available, the best solution for a child is to get help from a stranger who is considered to be less risky.

We now know that the majority of abuse or child abductions is done by a person the child actually knows. Through role play, children in our courses learn and practice to identify inappropriate behaviours. When they identify inappropriate behaviours and their instincts are sending them warning messages, this should set off alarm bells and send a child immediately to tell a trusted adult that something isn’t right. Some examples of inappropriate behaviours are when a person asks a child to keep an “unsafe” secret, gives expensive gifts without getting a parent’s permission, asks to spend alone time with the child, tells the child he can be a star ….

This is the NO! GO! Yell! Tell! message. We want kids to stay alert, be assertive, set boundaries and protect themselves by yelling and fighting back if they feel threatened. Telling a trusted adult what happened and providing a description will help police find a suspicious person.

Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Parents can continue to drill in these messages by using role play and scenarios at home.