Every parent has had the stranger-danger talk with their kids no less than a thousand times, but apparently we should have been talking about the danger of puppies all along. Not because puppies can bite or scratch (although a teething puppy is nothing to mess with), but because they have an incredible ability to make children trust whoever is holding their leash. Freddy Krueger? Scary. Freddy Krueger with a puppy? So cute! Best friend!
Most of us believe that our kids would never willingly walk away with a stranger, but after watching this video, we may need to rethink our child-safety strategies:
Sure, not every kid would fall for this ruse (there are some kids out there who are afraid of dogs), but it’s shocking to say the least. Have we as parents really not made ourselves clear over the years? Or do puppies somehow wipe all other thoughts from memory? Obviously it’s time to add nice doggy ≠ nice person to the conversation.
While we’re at it, here are a handful of other strategies we’ve used to help keep our kids out of harm’s way.
Have a family code word
If someone approaches your children and says they are friend of mummy or daddy and are there to pick them up, your child should ask for the code word. No code word = no go
Use your words
We often see kids being carried off playgrounds and we assume their yelling and screaming is just a tantrum. “Help” is good, but it’s overused—”Help” on the swings, “help” going down the slide. One suggestion is to teach your kids to yell “fire.” It’s sure to grab people’s attention. Other phrases like “this isn’t my dad!” “this isn’t my mom!” may trump the old four letter H-word.
It’s ok to say “No!” to an adult, especially if that adult is a stranger. Blindly respecting one’s elders is outdated, and possibly dangerous.
Know the basics
Memorizing home address, parents’ phone numbers, and how to dial 911 (those smart phones can be confusing) is essential.
Strangers are [mostly] good people
This may sound like it goes against everything we’ve just said, but if your child feels uncomfortable, or thinks someone may be following them, they should ask for help from someone nearby. Preferably a security guard or other authority figure.
Lastly, you might want to consider getting them their own puppy.