How to Help Kids Identify Dangerous Strangers

With the seemingly constant news of child abductions and the fact that no parent can watch a child 24 hours a day, stranger danger is often in a parent’s mind. While there is no way to 100 percent protect your child against strangers, as a parent you can teach him the things to look for, to avoid and to do to reduce the risk dangerous strangers pose to him.

Make a family rule that you know where your child is, and with whom, at all times. Ensure that she has your work, cell- and home phone numbers memorized and that she knows her address in case she needs to get in touch with you to tell you she is going somewhere other than where you agreed.

Educate him about what a stranger is and that dangerous strangers do not look like the villains often seen on TV or in movies. A stranger is anyone he does not know, and dangerous strangers often act nice or friendly to draw in a child.

Create a code word for your family. A code word is something that someone whom your child does not know, but who is someone you trust, can use if something were to happen to you and the trusted stranger needed to pick up or approach her. Choose a word that would not be easy for a dangerous stranger to guess, and make sure that she keeps the word a secret, suggests an article on this subject on the website of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh 1.

Talk about the types of behaviors he should be on the lookout for from dangerous strangers. These behaviors include a stranger asking him for help, to keep something a secret or to do something without permission. He should also be wary of anyone that makes him feel uncomfortable, according to the National Crime Prevention Association 2.

Teach him the “No, Go, Yell, Tell” response recommended by the National Crime Prevention Association 2. He should tell the stranger “No”; run; yell as loud as he can; and then tell a trusted adult what happened.

Explain that if she encounters a dangerous stranger that sometimes the person she will need to ask for help will also be a stranger, but that there are some safe strangers, including police and firemen.

Role-play different stranger scenarios with him to help him know what to do if a stranger confrontation occurs when you are not around. Some examples are a stranger asking to find a puppy; a stranger approaching your child as he walks home; or a stranger that pretends you, his parent, are hurt or sick.

Keep an open dialogue with her and make sure she knows that she can come to you with any safety concerns.


Dangerous adults are not always someone your child doesn’t know. Make sure he knows that if any adult makes him uncomfortable that he should tell someone immediately.