Teaching my children to talk to strangers...

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I'm going to make sure Shauna and I teach our children the benefits of talking to strangers when they need help.

Bruce Schneier writes:

In Beyond Fear I wrote: "Many children are taught never to talk to strangers, an extreme precaution with minimal security benefit."

In talks, I'm even more direct. I think "don't talk to strangers" is just about the worst possible advice you can give a child. Most people are friendly and helpful, and if a child is in distress, asking the help of a stranger is probably the best possible thing he can do.

Brennan Hawkins, the eleven year old boy who was lost in the mountains for several days (and whose family, coincidentally, lives near my parents in Bountiful) might have been found sooner if he hadn't hidden from the "strangers" he saw who were out looking for him.

According to one news report:

Brennan does not remember much of the four days he was missing, his parents said. They said they do not plan to push him to talk about his time in the woods, but they have learned a few answers.

He told his parents and a friend that he would sleep in a crouch, with his sweatshirt pulled down over knees to keep warm. And the parents said Brennan probably took their advice a little too literally about avoiding strangers.

"When an ATV or horse came by, he got off the trail. When they left, he got back on the trail," Jody Hawkins said. "His biggest fear, he told me, was that someone would steal him."

Thankfully his families prayers were answered and all is well that ends well. But the rest of us can still learn from this and help our children understand that while they should be wary of a strange adult approaching them that it's better to seek out help when they need it.

—Michael A. Cleverly

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Fri, 29 Nov 2019, 22:47

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