The last few weeks there has been a bit of a scare about a stranger lurking in the town where my oldest goes to school. Many memos, notices and bulletins have been broadcast about the individuals and we've been cautioned to remind our kids about the dangers of strangers. "Stranger Danger" and wagging fingers abound in my neighbourhood. But for kids like mine - "Stranger Danger" may be sending the wrong message. Well, perhaps not wrong, but confusing.
Our kids have a hard time making friends, and tend to prefer adults who may understand them better than children. That said, they don't always have the instincts that tell them something might be wrong, or they do, but aren't able to express them appropriately. We've so often forced them out of their comfort zone in an attempt to get them to socialize, that suddenly telling them that all strangers are potential child snatchers and to assume they're all bad until you know them, may actually be sending a mixed message. I say "suddenly" even though we've tried to teach them that some people aren't good for them, but they've likely rarely come across someone who was really bad - instead of perhaps just didn't like them.
My kids have problems understanding that if they stand in the street, they could get hit by a truck let alone that some people may be out to do them harm. I struggled with how to explain to them to be wary of others, without them leaving with the understanding, and perhaps added confusion, that strangers are usually bad.
So, without any further adieu or explanation - here is my home grown social story about Strangers: What are Strangers? - A PowerPoint (but printable) presentation. Enjoy and please let me know what you think, or if I made any errors. Comments are always welcome.