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An Arranged Safety Test Involving a Stranger and My Child? I Think So

Recently I wrote about how I would not let my daughters walk to school because I feared that something bad would happen. So far, the responses have been pretty good. People seem to understand my concerns and how I feel a sense of hopefulness, and that I hope my stance will eventually change so my kids can experience walking to school like I did when I was a kid.

The same day that post was published, the local news here in Indiana did a special on child abductions. The news program had arranged, with the permission of the kids’ parents, for a stranger to drive up to kids waiting at a bus stop and ask the kids if they wanted a ride to school.

The program was trying to figure out how the kids would react. Would the kids do the right thing and call 911? Would the kids refuse to take a ride with the stranger, but fail to call 911? Or would the kids get into the car with the stranger?

The more I thought about what the news station was doing, the more I wanted to arrange for something similar to happen to Addie. I want Addie to know what she should do in those types of situations so that she doesn’t make a bad decision. And I’m also curious to know how much of our parenting lessons have actually stuck with her.

One thing we have constantly talked to Addie about since she was old enough to turn a door knob, is that she is not allowed to answer the door without a parent right there next to her. When Addie learned to open doors we were living in an area of the city where break-ins were common. There was a group of kids about 18-years-old who had been breaking into three or four apartments each day. These kids knew that mostly women were home with their kids and, even though they didn’t plan on hurting anyone, they knew they wouldn’t face much resistance once they got into the home.

Teaching Addie that she was not allowed to answer the door during that period of lives was extremely important.  Yet, Addie couldn’t seem to grasp the danger and she was constantly answering the door without a parent in the same room. Even today, Addie will answer the door without a parent present. We’ve actually had guests go back outside and re-ring the doorbell as practice.

Her reluctance to comprehend the danger is the reason I want to arrange for a test like the one the news station performed. It is so important for Addie to understand that getting rides from strangers is unacceptable and that she needs to call 911 if anyone ever asks.

How have you taught your kids about the importance of not getting into a car with a stranger?

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