Friday, May 30, 2008

~ Stranger Danger ~

Looks like I have failed at equipping my children with a very crucial skill, a survival technique really in this heinous, ungodly world that we live in.

I sent my 12 yr. old son down to the nearby store where he has gone countless times before to pick up a bag of milk or a loaf of bread when we've run out.
We live in a quiet small town right on a highway. Since we have moved out here, we have gotten kinda comfy, a little relaxed with the freedom we give our kids.
Apparently a little too comfy. My son shared with me casually about the little conversation he had with a couple of MEN in a CAR on his walk back from the store.
I find myself involuntarily twitching as I type this.
He mentioned how the men were friendly and asked him how he was, why he wasn't in school, and what he was up to. All the while my son is walking within arms reach of the vehicle, which by the way is pulled over along the side of the road.

WHAT??!! As my son is sharing this all with me, my head is shaking violently back and forth, my voice reaches an unearthly pitch and I manage to squeak out "What were you thinking?!"
He looks at me as if I have two heads and responds with "nothing." "I was just being friendly."

I wonder how this could possibly happen, what is wrong with this child, and then it dawns on me, I'm whats wrong. I did this.
I taught this child to see the best in people, to be friendly in every situation, to always try and reach out to others. He is an extremely friendly, and social kid. He can talk to anyone. He'll shoot the breeze with some old folks, strike up a conversation with a young couple and easily engage a bunch of youngsters. I love that about him. I don't want that to change.

But, here I find myself feeling completely helpless, unable to protect my child from the unknown.
I don't want to assume these men were up to no good, for all I know they could have been completely harmless. I think it's inappropriate to talk to a young boy all on his own, especially the amount they conversed with him. I am thankful for the sovereignty of God and the safety of my child. I can't help but wonder if divine intervention played a part and these men happen to "see" a couple of bystanders within close range fowling any plans.

I try to explain to my son how dangerous this is. I tell him bad things could happen to him, that he could be taken and be killed. His mind can't comprehend this. He can't possibly imagine that these "nice men" could ever do him any harm.
Yes, I have sheltered my children. I don't regret that. They have been exposed to the big things in this world that matter. Famine, war, poverty. There hearts have broken over the devastation that they have seen, read and heard about. We pray and talk about these crucial things that go on in the world around us.

But, this...the evilness and human depravity that exists in the world. How do you share that? How do you even begin to explain the potential and horror of human nature? Describe it enough so that their innocence is stolen, and they no longer trust everyone? How do you do that as a mother? I don't want to do that. I would never even consider it for my younger ones, because they are under my protection the majority of the time. Just basic instructions would work for them. My older two boys on the otherhand, I have realized need something more. They are in situations where I can't always be. They have freedoms and privileges that come with risk.

So I am asking you... "What do you or would you tell your older children?" "What did your parents share with you at that age?" "How much is too much?" or are we left with no other option in this very scary society than to just expose the whole ugly truth?
Please leave a comment with your needed wisdom, or send me an email.

1Peter 5:7 "Throw all your worry on him, because he cares for you."


mamazee said...

((((HUGS))))) Sherry!
My oldest son is almost 13, and he always looks at me like i'm crazy when i warn him about stranger danger, but i think we've shared enough news (i.e. paper, radio) with him that he is realizing that these things *do* happen... i've been concentrating mostly on internet safety, but my littles know enough to look at me if a stranger tries to strike up a conversation... i'm going to ask my children what they would do in that situation, and go from there... I think as an adult, i am more likely to ask directions etc from a teenager if i see one, and maybe the men *were* just being friendly - but yeah... that little 1% chance is too much risk, isn't it?

Donna Hebert said...

You are absolutely right to be concerned. In this day and age we can't be too careful at all.
I think we must definitely make our children aware of this danger and let them know that it's not rude to walk away or run away if some strange older than them person starts trying to talk to them. Most common sense folks would already know it's not a good idea to speak to young kids if they are alone. I am so glad your on came home and is ok. Praise God for His protection. I can't understand why those men stopped from a vehicle to talk to him. Seems fishy to me..Of Father, help us as parents to have wisdom and help us to train our children from the evils of this world. Lord we want to be parents with Your wisdom and we need Your guidance to do this. Help our children to grow up knowing and loving You and seeking You with all their hearts.For Your glory alone, Jesus, Amen.

Anonymous said...

It's hard isn't it to help them to be street smart without robbing them of their innocence. Just like you have exposed them to famine and other injustices you need a reference point.

Help them understand that it is God's Spririt in our world that makes things bright and beautiful and pure. If God's Spirit were not here things would be dark and desperate and evil. God is the source of goodness and justice and right.

Help them to see that if people deliberately choose to reject God and not include him as part of their lives it opens them up to the possibility of being controlled by evil. Use Hitler and the holocaust as an example or whatever else historically that you think would be appropriate.

In the end relate this to the fact that although most strangers are just ordinary people there are a few who are controlled by evil. Here's the key point. You can't tell by just watching them or by chatting to them. You certainly can't tell by the things they say to you because evil is a liar. So when it comes to strangers (people that our parents haven't introduced us to) we always play it safe just in case.

I don't know if that helps and it's mostly off the top of my head but pray about it and see if it works for you.

Love J

Anonymous said...

I would just like to add to the comment someone else made that strangers are people parents have not introduced children to. My children know that though neighbors, and such are not strangers they are not to go with them without my or my husbands express consent, there are even some family members this applies to for us. Please check the statistics on how many abducted, and abused children know the offender, the number is staggering. Praise God your son is safe, it is very strange to me that an adult would be pulled to the side of the road to chat with a young boy they don't know. I would think they would have to not just know him but know him very well before that would be acceptable. I would be cautious for awhile, and not let him go by himself, if they were up to no good they may have been trying to win his trust, and could be watching for him, and try to approach him again, and get him to a point he will willingly go with them, or for it to not seem out of the normal for him to be speaking to them so noone would think it odd. Please be careful there are people who are so evil in this world, it is terrifying. We had a very strange incident happen to us last year, in front of me! We had a garage sale, and a man I had never seen before came, and my boys came out of the house to speak to me, and this man got on the ground with my 3 year old trying to wrestle around with him, then started telling my boys he was going to take them fishing with out any comment to me at all. I said they go fishing with their dad, and he said well we'll go with out your dad, and then started saying swear words about my husband who he has never met. There was more but it would take alot of space to tell it all. It was scary. My children learned a lesson that day on why they should listen to me the very first time I tell them something. My children are sheltered in many ways but they have to know there are dangers out there. We live in a small town also. I grew up here but there are dangers here as well as everywhere else. A thought just occured to me, you should check out the national sex offender web sight, I think it is, check your area and see if your son recognizes any of the people on it. You could ask him details of their looks first so he doesn't have to look thru them all, or you may want him to see if there are any dangerous people in your area. You may be suprised. I know it's an awful thing to have to explain. You have to teach your children saftey even thoug it is unpleasant. When my oldest was 10 or 11 there was a boy a year older a couple doors down, who sometimes came down with his younger brother and played, my DD considered him a friend. We didn't see him for awhile, imagine my suprise when several months later someone told me about the offender list and I decided to check it out, and this 13 year old boy was on it! To this day I don't know what that boy did but it must have been bad for him to be tried and convicted as an adult for that kind of crime at only 13. I cried, my heart broke for my daughter, for this boys family, his little brother, and even for him. I was shocked, I knew he got in some trouble at school, but he was always very nice, and never mean, or rude at our home, and the trouble at school was not awful just stuff like disrupting class. My DD had never been to his home. My comment has gottin way to long but I just wanted to share what I have seen and I've been told many, many times I am a very over protective momma, so it can happen no matter how sheltered we keep our children, possably even easier if we shelter them. May the Lord continue to watch over your son, and keep him safe.

Salty Star said...

I wanted to HIGHLY suggest, recommend, plead, and beg you, and anyone else, to read Gavin De Becker's book, Protecting the Gift. This is NOT a book you put on your list of books to read sometime. This is a book you go check out, buy, borrow, and read TODAY! ASAP! He is the leading expert in safety and protection of people in general, and Protecting the Gift is geared towards anyone and everyone who has or works with children. It will truly open your mind in a way most people have never been taught! It will equip you with easy-to-learn, easy-to-grasp tools that can save your child's life...and yours! He created the MOSAIC program that has been used to protect US presidents and many celebrities for years. I give this as baby shower gifts because I believe it is more important than anything a parent can ever get. Please read it! You can visit his website at: blessings!

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