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Stranger Danger: Is The Cure Worse Than The Disease?

"Stranger Danger", is fundamentally flawed

Yep! I said it.
This is something that is so well known now and yet it is still promoted by a world of people who should know better. 

For those of you who don't know, here's why it's flawed:

  1. The vast majority of attacks on anybody, especially children, are done by people they know. Not by strangers.
  2. The best person that any victim, child or otherwise may need to go to, in order to get help is most likely to be a stranger. A Police Officer for example.
  3. When you take a child to school or any new activity, for the first time the person you hand them over to is almost always going to be a stranger.
  4. The Stranger Danger Program (DSP) promotes fear and fear without proper training inhibits action. Actions that may save a life.
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I could go on but I think I've made my point.

I was inducted into the Protective Behaviour Program by the Victorian Police a good number of years ago, at a time when they had realized the problems with the DSP.

The Protective Behavior Program (PBP) operates on one statement in two parts to it.

"I have the right to feel safe at all times and nothing is so awful that I can't tell somebody about it"

This statement is then developed to help all who are taught, to understand any feeling that they may have of unease in any situations and to tell somebody about it and keep telling until somebody acts on it.

I Have Added Judo Elements

These days I have added Judo elements such as space and proximity awareness and responses. But it is still not enough. People still persist with the DSP including some police which you no doubt see the irony of.

I came across this article: 'How “Stranger Danger” Hurts Kids' and I must say that I was a little dismayed that even in the USA, where the PBP came from, the DSP still persists. Why?

I think that the answer is simple. We haven't as yet come up with anything that is as simple and straight forward as the Danger Stranger approach. The PBP cannot be taught properly in a 1-hour class. I know I've tried. I teach it regularly in schools and the best I've done is 4 hours and I was not convinced that I had got my message across. Even in the article quoted above, there are 6 points that we are encouraged to teach children. There is a great deal of educations that has to happen. Whereas the DSP has 1 point.

I'm Not Suggesting That Anything Is Wrong

I'm not suggesting that anything that the PBP is wrong or that anything said in the article is wrong. Quite the opposite. The points made are right on target and I encourage anybody who cares about safety and the safety of children, to read the article and learn about the Protective Behavior Program. You will be better for the incites. I am saying that we need to find a better way to get the message across.

It's time to ditch the Stranger Danger Program but it is also time for those of us who know better to get our message down to no more than three(3) short sharp points. Then maybe others will ditch it too.

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