There have been multiple cases of child kidnapping and child abuse all over the U.S. According to Child Rescue Network, one of the main factors why kids are failing to report their abusers is our general connotation of the term, “Stranger Danger.”
“Stranger Danger” was created to give a heads up to children regarding their approach to people they do not know. 30 years ago, it was a warning that children should not approach nor talk to strangers in public.
In 1981, the case of Adam Walsh terrified parents and the media. Adam Walsh was just 6 years old at the time and he vanished from a shopping mall in Florida. Walsh’s mother, Reve, just left the boy for a couple of minutes and when she returned to fetch him, he was gone.
Two weeks later, Adam’s severed head was found in a canal, and up to the present, his body has not been recovered yet. It was not only in 2008 when the serial killer, Ottis Toole, was identified as the murderer.
Though Toole was the official murderer identified by the authorities, True-crime author Arthur Jay Harris questioned this decision. In his interview with Uproxx, Harris said that the evidence that put Adam’s murderer to the court “is between poor and none.” Because of the inconsistent evidence, though Toole was already filed as Adam’s murderer, for many people, the case is left open.
But, decades after Walsh’s disappearance happened, the realm of child abuse has changed. There were missing kids, but what most are not aware of is the fact that abuse now happens domestically.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 93 percent of victims of abuse personally knew their abusers. The center also noted that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18.
This is where the “Stranger Danger” term becomes problematic. When parents teach kids this term, this gives them an idea that only “strangers” can harm them. When they are hurt by someone they know and trust, it is a lot harder for them to speak up. Aside from the trauma they had to endure, child victims’ association to “Stranger Danger” does not help them in truly accepting the fact that they were hurt by someone familiar, a person who was not supposed to be a “stranger.”
“The fact is that ‘Stranger Danger’ has created ineffective lives of fear while still leaving millions of children abused. Empowerment, not fear is the answer.”
HOW TO BEAT STRANGER DANGER
Though this is currently the general notion on “Stranger Danger,” parents can help kids open their understanding on abuse by following an open communication line with them.
According to CNR, parents should be able to give their children the ability to distinguish people they could trust. In case they were victimized, children should be able to make the best decisions when these situations happen.
Parents should also encourage their kids to not keep secrets. A simple rule saying, “No, don’t keep secrets from mom and dad,” should be a good starting point.
Parents could also implement a “family code word.” This works well when kids would need to be left alone or would need to be picked up by someone they do not know. If they should be welcoming a babysitter, kids should ask for the “family code word” before the person comes inside the house.
Lastly, it is important for parents to inform kids that there are “bad guys” outside and inside the house and they should never be scared to tell their parents if anything happens to them.
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