Myth 11: You should tell your kids about Stranger Danger.

Penn & Teller busted this myth in their Showtime show “Bullshit“, the episode about Stranger Danger. Watch a clip from this episode… click here>>

They interviewed Erin Runnion, founder of The Joyful Child Foundation, and mother to Samantha who was abducted, raped and murdered just before her 6th birthday. Erin believes that parents should take a very proactive role in protecting their children. Even though her child was tragically abducted to the worst possible effect, she still understands that the primary child predators are not strangers, but people that the family knows and trusts. More surprisingly, she advocates against teaching children about “stranger danger”. She feels that it is the parent’s role to be concerned for a child’s safety, it is not the child’s responsibility to worry about that. She feels that it is a child’s right to grow up feeling that the world is a safe and loving place. It is the parent’s responsibility to protect in appropriate ways.

The episode will rerun on Showtime:

08/09/08 11:45 PM ET/PT
08/09/08 01:15 AM ET/PT
08/10/08 11:00 PM ET/PT
08/10/08 12:00 AM ET/PT
08/11/08 12:15 AM ET/PT
08/14/08 10:30 PM ET/PT
09/02/08 11:00 PM ET/PT
09/16/08 11:30 PM ET/PT
09/25/08 09:30 PM ET/PT

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5 Responses

  1. The same concept applies to adults too. Stranger rape is much more rare than acquaintance rape, which I learned in college when one of my own classmates turned out to be a rapist. As an adult, my bigger concern when walking alone at night is being robbed or mugged. It doesn’t hurt to be safe, but we shouldn’t forget about the bigger dangers because of fear of the rare dangers.

  2. When I was a child, there was a really nice man in line next to us at a fast food restaurant. He and I chatted about cats and my father’s work with the Sheriff Dept. Then as soon as he was out of hearing range, my mother gave me a lecture about how it was wrong for me to have spoken with a stranger. I felt really hurt and confused, since he was friendly, plus we had been within her sight the entire time!

  3. I believe the reason “stranger danger” is such a big deal is that parents feel they can control access to “strangers”, I think the idea that someone well know and a friend to parent and/or child could do somethng harmful is something that parents aren’t willing to get their heads around. It is much more satisfying to think of the danger being “out there”! Our entire attitude regarding these issues is wrapped up in the psychology of well meaning parents, but not really in the reality of the concrete dangers. Emotion not reason rules as with many things. Oh, and the media doesn’t help at all in this regard, as with other issues we see the world through the warped lense of the media. The media is all about the sensational, and the unusual, not the objective, balanced real environment we live in.

  4. […] whole concept that anonymity is dangerous (a/k/a stranger danger) is a misrepresentation. Even though we have a fear of strangers, most crimes are not committed by […]

  5. In order to protect your children from stranger danger and kidnapping, it is essential to make sure that they are properly informed on the issue, because that way they will most likely be able to avoid contact with suspect individuals. The idea of my children being harmed or lost is not something anyone wants to consider. I found an article by anationofmoms about a service that can protect your family via your cell phone. And, at the bottom there is an opportunity to enter a drawing for 6 months of that service just by liking them on Facebook. You might find it interesting: http://anationofmoms.com/2011/08/protect-your-family-giveaway.html

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