While the helicopter parents are buzzing in V-formation over playgrounds across North America, the free-range parenting community fires back with their own stats: more like 115 children abducted a year by strangers. The overwhelming majority of abductions were reportedly by people the children knew. That’s a significant omission in Mr. Salads’ experiment.
Nonetheless, the video still has a powerful effect, and watching it does bring up questions parents are concerned about:
a) Once and for all, how legit is stranger danger?
b) What is the balance between helicopter parenting and free-range parenting?
c) Finally, and most curious, would your child fall for this?
5 Tips for Raising Safe, Fearless Kids
If you teach common sense, not fear, and you know your kids and your community and act accordingly, relax. Let the kids play in peace without you or them worrying about some fluffy puppy-wielding stranger snatching them up. The following are tips to help educate and protect kids through knowledge, not fear and anxiety:
- Designate a safe space for your child to play and roam. Set and enforce boundaries that work for your family. (e.g., Stay in the playground area unless Mommy, Daddy, a pre-approved adult says otherwise.)
- Remind your child to speak UP for him- or herself if something doesn’t feel right. Kids are often told to be quiet, and may feel their voice doesn’t matter. Tell your child it does matter and to USE it.
- Empower your child with basic self-defense. Children who know how to defend themselves are more confident and are, therefore, less likely to have to defend themselves.
- Talk to your child not just about strangers, but also about what’s acceptable behavior from any adult, as well as good touch versus bad touch . . . with anyone, including older children.
- When talking to your child about delicate issues, speak gently, out of love, and on his level. You know your child best. If Legos and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles speak his language, use them to help you translate! No one said these conversations had to be awkward.
Remember protecting and educating our children does not have to be done out of fear. Knowledge is just as efficient . . . only without the negative side-effects. Happy parenting!