“Don’t talk to strangers!”

The concept of a “stranger” can be difficult for children to understand. When we present unknown people as a danger, children believe that strangers are evil, ugly people – so a nice man asking for help to find his lost puppy or asking for a street name doesn’t seem like a threat. On the other hand, not all strangers are dangerous. Explain to children that there are unknown people who can help them in trouble, and whom they should approach if they feel threatened – like store clerks, police officers, or the parents of their friends.

Children might find it difficult to distinguish between the two types of strangers, those who could hurt them and strangers who could help. It’s important to openly discuss with children the dangers they may encounter, not to scare them, but to teach them how to react. Parents should never use threats like “you’ll be stolen if you’re naughty.”

Criminal and Family Abductions

However, when talking about abductions, it’s important to mention that classic, criminal abductions do not happen often in Serbia. More common are solicitations – where an older child, for example, offers younger ones illegal substances or forces them to do something they don’t want. It must also be noted that abduction is not only when a stranger kidnaps a child. Abduction is also when any family member, without informing and obtaining consent from both parents, takes the child.

Abduction is when one of the parents takes the child away from home or out of the country without informing the other parent. Therefore, warning only about strangers as a threat is not effective. Avoiding contact with unknown people won’t help if the abductor is a family member, neighbor, or family acquaintance. When talking to your children about abduction prevention, don’t focus on warning them about certain types of people. Instead, teach them to identify and respond to threatening situations.

Among all the questions parents have when they hear about child abductions, the most common is – how can I prevent this from happening to my child? Teaching children not to approach strangers is not enough. Parents need to learn when and where children can be in danger. They should also teach children about these situations and what to do if they occur. You know those hidden camera tests that check children’s gullibility? They often show “strangers” trying to lure children with ice cream, modeling contracts, or puppies. These tricks almost always make children succumb.

Established and Successful Abduction Tactics

In these scenarios, even children who know not to talk to strangers often ignore all safety rules. Potential abductors count on this. They know that, although many children are taught to avoid strangers, they may not be taught to recognize abduction tactics. That’s why it’s important to familiarize children with predators’ tactics. Review them with your children and practice responses. The more children practice, the better prepared they will be in a real situation. In the following text, we will present the most common abduction tactics, as well as suggestions on how a child can defend themselves if they find themselves in such a situation.

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