Warn kids of “bad guys”?

The biggest fear most parents have is that something might happen to their children. And the biggest challenge is letting them go a little bit more with each passing year. To let her go further on her own and put up with the fact that you are no longer constantly watching her.

It’s not easy to turn off the cinema in your head. After all, you know what could happen if you had heard and read the reports enough. And fears that someone might harm the child, use their curiosity and openness to lure them into the trap. And at the same time you do not want to take away from him the basic trust and confidence, you do not want to raise any unnecessary fears.

So what is the best way for parents to prepare their children for their first independent activities, the way to school, to friends, to the playground, to sports?

“We have to make kids confident,” Stephen Claus asserts. He has been in the field of police prevention for more than 20 years. Although the chief police inspector has long since retired, he still works as a “children’s policeman” in day care centers and primary schools in Saxony-Anhalt to train with children how to behave properly in dangerous situations.

Most of the perpetrators come from a familiar environment

The “bad and weird guy” that generations of parents have warned their children about “is the culprit in the rarest of cases,” says Klaus. “The real villain is a kind, gentle person who does not use violence and plays with childish curiosity.”

Police statistics prove this, and accordingly, almost two-thirds of the affected children have a social relationship with the offender: they are relatives, friends, coaches, group leaders. “Strangers talking to children on the street, for example,” are rare.

So Steffen Claus believes that it makes no sense to teach children that they are not allowed to go with strangers. “Because that means they’re allowed to go with someone they know.” In his sessions, he gives children the following guidelines: “I don’t go with you, I don’t drive with you, I don’t go to anyone’s apartment. My parents need to know where I am.”

Children are also under no obligation to give unknown adults information, not about the route to the subway and certainly not about their name and place of residence.

Children should be allowed to say “no”.

It all depends on one little word for it to actually work in practice: “Children should be allowed to say ‘no’,” Klaus emphasizes. And not just towards strangers “but also when Aunt Frida wants to hit them again”.

Doris Crouch also believes that it is very important to convey to children that their “no” will be heard and accepted. She is one of the managing directors of the Munich Association “Kostbar eV”, which has been providing self-assertion courses for preschool children and advice for parents and educational professionals since 2002. The teacher says: “Parents should teach children from an early age: you can have an opinion, We take you very seriously, and you can be critical, cautious, and self-confident toward other adults.”

In addition to “no,” she considers three other critical guiding principles in preventive action: “My body is mine, it’s not my fault, I can get help.” It is important to pass this on to children – and even less so to practice behavior in concrete situations. “Because if a child had a slightly different experience, he wouldn’t have a way to do it.”

The association also developed online training during the Corona period. The film also contains exercises and suggestions for discussions between parents and children.

Above all, good courses enhance self-confidence

Good assertiveness courses for kids can be recognized by the fact that they focus less on specific defense techniques and more on boosting self-confidence, according to state crime prevention police and the federal government, which parents are part of a widespread “abuse prevention” campaign gives it a hand .

Reputable course offerings can be recognized by the fact that they work with experts and parents. Because making children strong – no single course can do that, and that remains the job of the parents.

“Baby Cop” Stephen Klaus works primarily with the fictional stories of the Brothers Grimm. “The heroes of a fairy tale must constantly resolve disputes. And it always ends well,” he explains. The story of Little Red Riding Hood, for example, can be used to illustrate clever behavior in a child-friendly way—and which one isn’t: not staying on the agreed-upon path, for example, and letting the wolf ask you about things. No Strangers do.

And what is intelligence? “Running away always protects, which is why I try to convey to children that running away is not a coward, it’s smart,” says Klaus. And it is important to talk to parents about experiences that seem strange.

Because prevention is always a matter of trust between parents and children: “When children feel that their parents trust them, and when they are encouraged to do things independently,” says Doris Crouch, “then they feel they are being looked at and listened to.” And know that they can trust their parents. in difficult situations.


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