When I was a little girl I remember the lessons of stranger danger. Any person who was not my parents, a relative, a teacher, a doctor, a nurse or a policeman was a stranger and strangers were dangerous. That turned the world into a strange and dangerous place for a little girl. Phantom terrors lurked around every corner. Not until I was older, around eight or nine did I learn just what that danger meant.
In my young adult years, stranger danger and what it meant changed again. The stranger was a man who tried to lure kids away from playgrounds or on the way home from school. The pretense was lost puppies, candy or the promise of a ride home. It meant I’d never see my parents again and unspeakable evil things would happen to me. It was just too vague to understand.
None of what I was taught truly covered the danger of people. It wasn’t strangers that are a danger. Friends and family can be just as dangerous as the mythical “strange man.” I know this first hand. With my eldest about to start school I’ve wondered how to deal with this. I know this topic will be covered is class at some point.
I ran across this article from Facebook, Tricky People are the New Strangers. Wish I had though of this for my kids. Wish I had heard the same NPR program. After reading this, it hit me; “why didn’t I figure that out?”. I guess because it’s hard to say what guidelines to follow without having enough data to figure out the pattern.
I was raised that secrets were bad and to never keep them. I still kept secrets. I was raised that promises should not be made until to god and that god promises that are broken risks death. End result of that was to never make a promise. I was raised with stranger danger and it didn’t work. I talked with everyone, went into homes of adults and even took a ride home once. Looking back I was following some of tips about tricky people.
The homes I went into, the adults were elderly and were grandparents. They constantly admonished me on needing to let my parents know where I was. My safety was their top concern. And the ride home, was from school and the mother of a fellow student when the buses failed to show for the afternoon programs. Perhaps I was lucky or was trusting my gut. It wasn’t enough. I was still molested, raped and abused.
These tips from Pattie Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After may make the difference between luck and knowledge. There was a lot I needed to know. There is a lot I need to teach my children.