POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 111 "Don’t talk to Strangers" has forever been the slogan of personal safety education. However we now know that this can cause more harm than actually equip children with a safety strategy to help protect themselves from harm. Stranger" is an abstract concept and difficult for children to understand. As "stranger" has often been associated with "bad," "mean," or "ugly" children become confused when someone they don’t know speaks to them nicely, looks "friendly," or introduces himself/herself in a position of authority. This "stranger" approach to safety becomes confusing to children as adults interact and speak to "strangers" everyday. Actually, research indicates that children are much more likely to be abducted or sexually exploited by someone they know or with whom they have come into contact. Therefore, the "stranger" theory will not usually protect children from victimization. There are situations in which children will need to approach a "stranger" for help. So moreimportantly, they must learn how to make safe choices about the type of individual they should approach in an emergency situation. A more effective safety strategy is teach children to make sure that their parents know where they are going before they go anywhere with anyone. To reinforce this and other key safety concepts, the Kids in the Know educational curriculum introduces 7 Root Safety Strategies throughout the program. This one – 'If you're asked to go and your parents don't know, shout NO!' is repeated consistently in the curriculum and replaces the 'Don't talk to strangers' concept. Children must learn how to be assertive and to remove themselves from any situation with anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable, scared or hurt. This pertains to root safety strategy: Shout NO! - Run-Tell Someone. Direct instruction on how to listen to their instincts when they are warned of danger is also imperative. This pertains to root safety strategy: Trust Your Instincts. This should be combined with their instruction on how to respond safely in situations and to communicate a message of "I mean business." Most children are uncomfortable being impolite to adults. In most cases this is appropriate. However, they must be taught that if their safety is at risk or if they are feeling uncomfortable, it is okay to respond without concern for the feelings of the individual. This also heightens awareness about the messages adults communicate to children and their expectations of how to interact with adults. Many parents expect their children to express actions of affection toward particular adults even when their child is uncomfortable doing so. Adults need to keep the lines of communication open and actively listen to children. How to Prevent Sexual Exploitation Know where your children are at all times. Be familiar with their friends and daily activities. Be sensitive to changes in your children's behavior; they are a signal that you should sit down and talk to your children about what caused the changes. Be alert to a teenager or adult who is paying an unusual amount of attention to your children or giving them inappropriate or expensive gifts. Teach your children to trust their own feelings and assure them that they have the right to say NO to what they sense is wrong. Listen carefully to your children's fears and be supportive in all your discussions with them. Teach your children that no one should approach them or touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If someone does, they should tell the parents immediately. Kids in the Know The New Face of Safety Education (cont’d...)