We’re always preaching to our children not to trust strangers. But can we trust them to follow our advice?
This article reveals the shocking truth — our children lack guile and self-preservation instinct. No matter how many times you’ve warned them, they will always be naive… and predators know EXACTLY how to take advantage of that.
So how do you get peace of mind?
The big debate — To trust or not to trust
As parents, it’s in our nature to worry about our kids. We want to protect them. We want to save them from painful experiences, to grow carefree and happy.
Learning to trust our children is the first step to having peace of mind.
But trust needs to be earned and takes a long time to build.
How can you build a solid relationship of trust with your children, so that you have peace of mind that they know how to look after themselves at all times?
Educating your children about danger
Before you can trust your children, you need to make sure they’re educated to make the right choices — that they understand the dangers of wandering off on their own, or accepting gifts from strangers, no matter how «nice» those strangers might appear to be.
A great tool for educating children about stranger danger, is through storytelling.
Multiple studies have shown that as humans, we are wired to respond to stories. We are drawn into them and associate very strongly with the lessons they deliver.
For instance, take the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood.
In Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf disguises itself as Red’s grandmother, a kind, harmless and trusted person.
This is a very important lesson for children. It shows them that danger can be treacherous and deceptive.
Another great story is Snow White. It teaches children how dangerous it can be to accept gifts from strangers, no matter how tasty or shiny they may be.
Tell your kids these stories often. Describe the scenes as vividly as you can, so that they leave a lasting impression in your children’s minds. Also, get them to tell the story back to you and to tell you what they’ve learned from it.
I promise these stories will be much more effective in teaching your children how to look after themselves, than any lecture ever will.
And if you have any doubts, here’s a little experiment you can try for yourself.
Tell your child you’re about to tell them a story. Notice their reaction and focus as you recount the tale.
Once you’re done telling them the story, leave them alone for a few minutes, then come back and start giving them the regular lecture about stranger danger. You’ll notice how quickly they lose focus and how their attention starts to wander almost immediately.
Why education alone isn’t enough
The biggest problem is that children —particularly younger ones— have no guile and absolutely no sense of self-preservation.
I’m sure you’ve told your kids a million times not to trust strangers. I know I’ve told my 7-year-old son that same thing many times.
But is it enough?
Some time ago, I stumbled upon the social experiment video below. I’d like you to watch it now. It’s less than 4 minutes long, but I promise it will be an eye-opener.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be pretty shocked by the end of it.
All of those parents educated their child not to trust strangers; not to go anywhere without telling them first. And yet, all of the children happily walked off with a total «stranger».
So what happened in that video? How did the «stranger» convince the children to walk away with him and completely ignore their parents’ advice?
How bad people manipulate children
1. They are gentle, kind and relatable
Contrary to what we see in movies, kidnappers and criminals don’t always look sneaky, suspicious or dangerous. They will go to great lengths to appear as similar as possible to nice and respectable people. Their clothes are just like anyone else’s. Their tone of voice is soft and their mannerisms are gentle.
To the child’s eye, they are exactly what a friendly and trustworthy adult would look like.
You’ll notice that in the video above, the «kidnapper» perfectly blends into the crowd with his clothes and behavior. The puppy implies that this man is caring and gentle. After all, people who love animals are nice people… right?
2. They know a lot about children and how to quickly earn their trust
In the video above, the «kidnapper» uses a cute puppy to catch the children’s attention and make them forget the advice that they should never talk to strangers. He approaches the children very cautiously so as not to alarm them. After they’ve patted the dog, he engages them in conversation by asking them to guess the puppy’s name.
Next, he makes a statement that they agree with, «You like puppies, right?»
This is a technique right out of the field of salesmanship and persuasion. The more opinions we share with someone, the more we tend to trust their judgement about things we don’t know. We all tend to be susceptible to this phenomenon (to a greater or lesser degree); children even more so. After the «kidnapper» has managed to get the children to say their first «yes», it becomes easier for him to get them to answer «yes» a second time when asking them to join him and go visit the puppies.
3. They exploit our weaknesses as parents
Kidnappers and criminals don’t just know a lot about children. They also know a lot about parents.
They know how we think. They can understand when we’re relaxed with our guard down, or when we’re tense and on the alert.
These predators take advantage of our weaknesses by targeting our children in places where we think they’re safest — such as in a playground with lots of attentive and responsible parents around, just like in the video above.
They also exploit the «Optimism Bias» — our belief that «it would never happen to me». And it’s not because we’re careless or pretentious. It’s simply human nature and none of us are immune to it.
How to protect your children from kidnappers and predators
As I wrote earlier, children possess neither guile nor an instinct for self-preservation. Education is crucial, but we can’t depend on it exclusively.
I would like you to watch the video again starting from 2:58 (direct link here). Observe how the child reacts while his mother explains that he should not have walked away with the stranger. It takes the child exactly 10 seconds to completely phase out of the conversation. From that point onward, you’ll notice that the child isn’t even remotely registering a single word his mother is telling him.
Education can only take us so far. For the rest, we need proper precautions.
Here are a few things you can do to protect your children from kidnappers and predators.
1. Dress them up in highly visible and easily-recognizable clothes
I always dress my son as conspicuously as possible — bright t-shirts, bright pants, colored caps. The more unusual the better.
In my case, it also helps that my son is always the loudest and shrillest voice in the playground. So never chastise your children for being loud when they play.
Remember, predators go for easy prey. They will pick a child who is harder to spot; one who is wearing clothes that look just like everybody else’s. They’ll target quieter children, because they’re less likely to make a scene if approached.
The longer it takes for a child’s absence to be noticed, the easier it gets for a kidnapper to take away that child, never to be seen again.
2. Team up
Team up with other parents to keep a watchful eye on your children.
When I take my son to the playground, the first thing I do is notice whom he’s playing with. Then I’ll locate the other child’s parents and strike up a friendly conversation with them.
Now, there’s more than just one pair of eyes keeping watch over the children. And since the children are playing together, they’re most likely in the same spot, therefore easier to keep track of.
3. Stop playing at a disadvantage
Nowadays, kidnappers aren’t just smart — they’re also very well-equipped. They use cameras, surveillance tools, the internet, and any tool available to their advantage, because they know that one tiny mistake can be the end of them.
When competing against such a well-equipped and devious threat, your eyes and ears will never be enough. You need to level the playing field and get technology on your side.
This is why we created «FindMyKids», a GPS-tracking app that helps keep your children safe and give you peace of mind.
How «FindMyKids» helps you keep your children safe
«FindMyKids» uses the internet, telephony and GPS-technology to give you peace of mind and keep your child safe.
Want to know exactly where children is?
Install the app Find My Kids and monitor location of your child’s phone
There are two parts to «FindMyKids». One part is the parent app, which you install on your Android or iOS mobile device. The other part is the companion app, which you need to install on your child’s mobile device. If you’re thinking, «No way! My child is too young to own a mobile phone!» don’t worry, we have you covered, because «FindMyKids» can also be installed on most smartwatches.
Once your mobile device is linked to your child’s using the parent app, you’ll have at your disposal a number of security tools that will help you protect your child.
1. GPS-Tracking and «Safe zone» alerts
Through the use of GPS-technology and the mobile data network, you’ll be able to track your child’s location in real time, anytime. No more looking around for your child in panic. Just check the map and find out where they’re at.
You can also designate «safe zones» in the app. If your child moves out of the specified area (for instance a playground area or even the school), your app will sound an alarm and you’ll be notified right away.
2. Observe and listen to your child’s surroundings
The app uses the camera and microphone of your child’s mobile device to allow you to monitor their surroundings at any time.
Child doesn’t answer?
Install the app Find My Kids and listen to the sounds around your kid!
This comes in really handy when you’re with your child at a playground and you want to relax with a book, rather than constantly strain your eyes and neck to watch over your child. Simply activate the sound monitoring feature on the app, pop your headphones into your ears, and listen to your child’s surroundings while you read. If they suddenly stop playing and start having a conversation with someone who’s a bit older, that’s your cue to do a quick patrol.
3. A dedicated emergency button
When danger happens, it’s always abrupt and brutally swift. Once a child is snatched, it’s almost already too late to act.
Of course, you should always teach your child to scream at the top of their lungs if they find themselves in danger. But what if the kidnapper is covering their mouth? What if they’re out of earshot?
Is your child out of earshot?
Install the app Find My Kids on child’s phone or watch with SOS button
The «FindMyKid» app equips your child’s mobile device or smartwatch with a dedicated «Alarm» button. All the child needs to do, is push that alarm button. This will immediately ring an alert on the parent app, letting you know that your child is in danger.
And to make this feature even more accessible, our kid-friendly companion smartwatches feature a dedicated physical button that’s easy to reach in any situation.
When it comes to your child’s safety, there are no compromises
As a parent, my son’s health and safety is my greatest priority at all times. And I’m sure you feel the same about your children.
The world has become a dangerous and scary place, and this is where our children will have to grow up.
Let’s not compromise on our children’s lives.
Let’s use every tool in our arsenal to ensure their safety. Because the alternatives are too horrible to consider.
Install the «FindMyKids» app for your Android or iOS device today. It’s free.
Click on the banner below to go to the app page, choose your version and start your download now.