If the thought of your child running into an abductor or molester scares the shit out of you, then please read this article, because there’s this simple trick to improve the safety of a child who’s in trouble. Stupid simple, but it has a big effect on your kid’s chances of running into molester/Bad Guy/abductor.
Children get lost. They wander off sometimes. We get distracted by something, they get distracted by something else. And the something they’re distracted by is moving. Away from you. And so of course your kid follows it. Away from you.
You look around and can’t see your kid. Your kid looks around and can’t see you. Oh shit. Here’s some of what you should be doing. But what should your kid do?
Rendezvous s’il vous plait
Hopefully you’ve already talked with your child about an RV (a rendezvous point). Both you and your child know that if you get separated, they must wait outside this or that shop for you. You will come to them, they mustn’t wander around looking for you. Their job is to stay there and not get lured away.
Ideally you have an easy to find RV for every shop you take them to often. And every big mall etc. Especially if you’re only there the one time (new distractions, unfamiliar place … more chance of getting separated).
How to NOT meet a psycho
But let’s say that you get separated and your child can’t find the meeting spot. It might help your child if an adult gets involved. And here’s where the “trick” comes into it.
Gavin De Becker, in his timeless books Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift, writes about how to decrease the chance of meeting a psycho: You go up to a stranger and ask for help, don’t wait for a stranger to offer you help.
There are 2 kinds of people who will come up to you (or a scared looking lost child) and offer help: people who want to help and psychos.
Let’s say that 1 in 100 people is psycho, and that 20 in 100 people will offer you help.
That means if someone offers you help, there’s a 1 in 20 chance of it being a psycho.
If you randomly choose a stranger and go ask for help, then there’s only a 1 in 100 chance of it being a psycho.
Simple, you do the approaching when you need help.
There’s a second “trick”
Approach a woman. Preferably one with kids. Women are statistically less likely to be child molesters, child abductors and all-round psychos than men. There are just fewer female Bad Guys than male Bad Guys.
Sexist? I really don’t care. It helps my kids be safer.
Plus women have that whole instinct to nurture-and-protect thing going for them.
Works for everyone
This is good advice for anyone who needs help, not just children. A woman whose car breaks down in an unknown neighbourhood. A backpacker in a new city. A teenager who got in over her head, but was smart enough to get out of the situation, but now needs to get home.
Stranger danger really is bullshit
This is another way that Stranger Danger hurts your kids: if you make them afraid of strangers, then they’re not going to approach one for help. Instead they’ll avoid dealing with strangers until they’re desperate for help, and then they’ll accept the help of whoever approaches them … and as you’ve just seen, that really ups the odds of them being “helped” by a Bad Guy.