Stranger Danger: Still the right message for children?

Image caption Say No to Strangers (1981) – a movie produced by the Home Office and revealed throughout the UK

Many moms and dads keep in mind the “Stranger Danger” message offered to kids throughout the 1970s and 80s. Federal government videos alerted kids not to speak with individuals they didn’t understand. A brand-new message is being trialled in the UK, which its developers believe is much better at keeping kids safe.

“I attempted to get the [old] Complete stranger Danger message throughout to my boy a couple of years back and it backfired terribly,” states Suzie Morgan, a main school instructor who resides in Fareham, Hampshire.

He got baffled and scared, could not sleep during the night and was anxious someone was getting into your home.

Like any moms and dad she wished to keep her kid safe.

But she felt the Stranger Danger message she was teaching – which she herself had actually matured with – was unhealthy for her six-year-old boy, making him too scared of the world.

“I didn’t understand where else to go,” she states. When her child’s school piloted a brand-new security message, #peeee

So she was enthusiastic. It’s called Clever Never Goes and was developed by the charity Action Against Abduction.

It intends to make kids less scared of the world, by providing the self-confidence to make choices about their own individual security.

Morgan states it has actually provided her boy more flexibility and self-reliance.

However, it is a message that has actually not yet been completely assessed by professionals in the field, a few of whom have bookings.

And for numerous moms and dads the brand-new mentors might be hard to accept. The Stranger Danger message is still deeply deep-rooted in their minds.

Image caption Police entered into schools to go over Stranger Danger videos

The old message was promoted by the federal government throughout the 1970s and 80s, in a series of compelling movies commissioned by the Home Office.

It followed a wave of prominent kidnappings and killings, consisting of the Moors and Cannock Chase murders.

There were plain cautions such as: “You do not wish to wind up dead or in medical facility, state ‘No’ to complete strangers!”

Children were informed to “avoid individuals you do not understand”.

The movies were provided to the British Film Institute and you can view the 1971 and 1981 movies online.

But there were bookings amongst civil servants at the time and some anxious kids’s worries were being increased to an unhealthy degree, according to Geoff Newiss of the charity Action Against Abduction.

Newiss investigated Stranger Danger as part of a group put together by the National Crime Agency 4 years earlier. It motivated him to develop a brand-new security message for kids, which he believes is more suitable for function – not least since most of kidnappings are devoted by an adult currently understood to the kid.

Image caption The workshop is focused on Key Stage One students, aged 5 to 7

With approval from the cops and kids’s security boards in the county, more than 150 schools are now registered to teach Clever Never Goes in Hampshire.

An essential message of the workshop is that interactions with complete strangers are not always harmful.

Instead, the minute kids require to be careful of is when a grownup, consisting of ones they currently understand, asks to go someplace with them all of a sudden. This is what authorities call “the lure”.

In an interactive class, kids are presented to a character called Clever the Robot. He has an unique power for identifying risk, with a dial on his chest that checks out “Safe, Hmmm?, Unsafe”.


Hear more

Learn more about Clever Never Goes in the current People Fixing the World podcast from the BBC World Service


Children see a series of videos revealing circumstances with grownups approaching kids, and they need to choose how to respond.

Some scenes are similar to the old Stranger Danger videos. A male brings up in a vehicle and uses some sugary foods and a trip. Obviously the clear message stays that this is hazardous and kids should move away and discover a relied on grownup.

But there are likewise situations where interactions with complete strangers are referred to as benign.

A guy approaches a kid in a park and talks about his pet. Students in the workshop are asked if this is OK, and the response provided is that this is not a hazardous circumstance though kids might feel a bit “Hmmm?”.

Image copyright Clever Never Goes
Image caption Geoff Newiss of Action Against Abduction plays the function of the dog-walking complete stranger

In a later video the situation is extended with the complete stranger asking kids to come with him to stroll the canine.

Children are taught things have actually now turned hazardous, “since he’s asked to opt for him which’s bad, Clever Never Goes.”

There is another scene where it is a female who is using a lift – the message is not to go, if this is not pre-arranged, even if it is the mom of a pal.

In the old Stranger Danger videos, the complete strangers were depicted by guys.

Image copyright Clever Never Goes
Image caption Strangers are likewise played by female stars in the brand-new security message

The brand-new message “activated something in me, leading back to when I was a moms and dad raising kids,” describes Jacky Halton, headteacher at Crofton Hammond Infant School in Hampshire, where the workshop has actually been established over the previous 2 years.

“I didn’t desire my kids to be cautious of every complete stranger they satisfied.”

Image caption Headteacher Jacky Halton was influenced by sensations she had as a moms and dad

As the instructor informs the class of 5- to seven-year-olds, “Lots of individuals are complete strangers that we do not understand, however great deals of individuals are friendly and really kind individuals and we can speak with them and get along.”

Someone who is utilized to providing the old Stranger Danger cautions is PC Maria Carrick, who leads engagement with schools for Hampshire cops.

She was never ever completely comfy with the message.

Image caption PC Maria Carrick despaired in the Stranger Danger message

“It simply felt really complicated for kids to comprehend what a great complete stranger is, or a bad complete stranger.”

The old message tended to demonise all complete strangers and this is not always valuable for the kid, she states.

While moms and dads have a natural worry of the predatory complete stranger, she believes, Clever Never Goes addresses a more reasonable threat.

“We need to stay concentrated on the truth that the majority of the prominent murders we understand from the previous 10 years were kids who understood their killer.”

By concentrating on the minute of “the lure”, Clever Never Goes objectives to resolve this concern.


Child Abduction in England and Wales: Recent figures and price quotes

1,189 kid kidnapping offenses were taped by authorities in 2017/18

20% of kidnapping offenses are devoted by a relative

40% are devoted by complete strangers (most are tried kidnappings instead of finished kidnappings)

40% are devoted by individuals understood however unrelated to the kid

(Note: Abductions by individuals understood however unrelated consist of concerns such as sexual exploitation, required marital relationship, vengeance attacks and monetary disagreements)

Sources: ONS, Pact and Action Against Abduction


Clever Never Goes is likewise created to aid with the increasing risk of online complete strangers.

Many video game popular with primary-school-age kids include live online chatting.

People you fulfill by doing this may not feel like complete strangers, the workshop alerts, however you never ever consent to go anywhere with them in reality.

Image copyright Clever Never Goes
Image caption Clever Never Goes likewise covers online security

There is an agreement amongst professionals in kids’s security and advancement that the Stranger Danger message is obsoleted and due an overhaul.

Clever Never Goes is definitely an action in the best instructions, states, Dr Gina Sherwood, primary speaker in Childhood Studies at Portsmouth University.

But she likewise has some appointments.

“The tag ‘smart’ suggests it is the kid’s duty to keep themselves safe and if they did slip up it would be as if they are not creative.”

She has issues this might be a concern assisting a kid to recuperate after an abduction.There is likewise possibly a risk in enabling not being watched contact with complete strangers to develop gradually, she states.

For circumstances, a dog-walking complete stranger might talk to kids in a park on a number of celebrations, without asking go anywhere. This might develop trust that a harmful individual may capitalise on.

The hope is that kids who embrace Clever Never Goes need to still be resistant to this grooming, if they keep in mind not to opt for anybody all of a sudden, even if they recognize faces.

Without research study the brand-new message can not be backed by academics, states Dr Sherwood. The next phase is to assess it.

Image caption Geoff Newiss is the driving force behind the Clever Never Goes message

But can kids, who reside in a wonderful world of Father Christmas and tooth fairies, truly be depended make great differences in between hazardous and safe complete strangers?

“Absolutely,” states Halton. “We are stopping working in our task if we do not provide kids obligation for their own actions.”

She watches out for a pattern towards “lawnmower moms and dads”, who figure out all the issues in front of their kid, so kids never ever need to find out how to do things for themselves.

Newiss concurs that we need to provide kids the tools to handle their own threat.

When you recall at the Stranger Danger message, he states, there was a sense that “a little bit of worry will not do them any damage”.

“I believe that’s incorrect. Worry simply knocks their self-confidence.”

Dougal Shaw is on Twitter: @dougalshawbbc

Learn more about Clever Never Goes in the most recent People Fixing the World podcast from the BBC World Service

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