Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Don't be afraid to step in

The suspected abduction of April Jones is playing on everyone’s minds today, not just people with children.
Just last week I had a moment of fear and pulled my 4 year old son close to have the stranger danger chat again.
We were in a soft play area, perfectly safe, we go there all the time. But it was busy and as I was watching parents coming in and out I suddenly thought, if someone carried my son or daughter off, would anyone stop them? Of course they wouldn’t. Why would they think it was anyone other than their parent/guardian carrying them?
Even if the child was kicking or screaming, how many of us would probably sit there and sympathise, giving them a knowing ‘another tantrum’ smile.
So I sat down with the 4 year old and explained that he must never go anywhere with other adults, even if they said Mummy told them to pick him up. If they decided to pull him away or carry him, he needs to shout out ‘help me this isn’t my mummy’. If he simply cried and kicked, I know that the majority of people would ignore it, it’s just another naughty child.
It's not the happiest chat I've ever had with my son and I think he probably forgot it two minutes later. The odds of it happening are small, miniscule, there's probably more chance of winning the lottery. But it's the most painful, sick-inducing fear I have.  
There are plenty of messages out there for the kids but what about the parents?
Don’t be afraid to tackle a parent if a child looks in distress and you’re just not sure. If everything is ok, they would forgive you for interfering, but they’d never forgive you if you didn’t.
Stranger Danger Gloucestershire Police website http://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/kids_aware/3.html