Warn kids of “bad guys”?

Parents’ biggest fear is that something could happen to their children when they are out on their own. (Photo: dpa)
(Photo: Sylvia Marx / dpa theme service / dpa-tmn)

Munich – The biggest fear most parents have is that something could 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. Rarely are “strangers approaching children on the street, for example.”

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 them, I don’t drive with them, I don’t go to anyone’s homes. 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 only towards strangers “but also when Aunt Frida wants to hit her again”.

Doris Crouch also believes that it is necessary to convey to children that “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. “Parents should teach children at an early age: you can have an opinion, we take you on Seriously, and you can be critical, cautious, and self-confident toward other adults,” says the teacher.

Three other guiding principles are critical in addition to the “no” in preventative action: “My body is mine, it’s not my fault, I can get help.” “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 children 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 agencies and the federal police, which provide parents with comprehensive information as part of the Give Hand campaign “Preventing Abuse.”

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 fairy tales have to constantly resolve conflicts. And it always ends well,” he explains. The story of the Little Red Riding Hood, for example, can be used to illustrate smart behavior in a child-friendly way—and which one isn’t: not staying on the agreed-upon path, for example, and letting a wolf ask you about things. Strangers don’t do it.

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

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.” They know that they can trust their parents in difficult situations.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220901-99-596121 / 2

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