Prevention – Beyond Stranger Danger? Geoff Newiss Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT)
Recommendation: “Examine the effectiveness of existing materials and programmes for schools and parents to keep children safe from abduction”
Police recorded child abduction 2011/12 Source: Newiss and Traynor (2013)
Beyond stranger danger: research Aims To establish if parents, teachers, police and other agencies are providing information and advice to children on stranger child abduction To explore what information and advice, if any, is provided to children To identify themes or issues in the content or delivery of information and advice
1973 ‘Strangers’ - part of the ‘Charley says’ series 1981 ‘Say no to strangers’ What is stranger danger? Strangers/non-strangers Don’t go Don’t talk to Don’t take things from…
Limitations: Poor differentiation Lack of consistency in practice (‘little old lady’) Can limit readiness to find help when children need it Can distract from the greater risk posed by people known to children. Can interfere with higher priority safety task of recognising dangerous situations and overcoming socialisation pressures.
Lures: • Simple lures (“would you like to go for a walk?”) • Authority lures (“your mother told me to come get you”) • Incentive lures (“I have some toys in my car…”) • Assistance lures (“can you help me carry these things to my car?”) • Conversation lures (“what is your name, how old are you?...”).
Verbal (YELL) • Motor (RUN) • Reporting (TELL) Behavioural skills training “involving some combination of instructions, modelling, rehearsal, praise and corrective feedback” is generally effective in helping children to acquire abduction avoidance behaviour (Miltenbergerand Olsen, 1996) Three critical response behaviours: Self-esteem and confidence
Parents (n=12 + 6 on social network site) “statistically it is family members that post more of a risk to kids than strangers.” “I know the schools teach children not to talk to strangers but I don’t agree with that, I think that makes for a very unfriendly world.” “I believe it is important for them to be confident to talk to strangers.” “I told my daughter…most grown-ups are really nice, but there are a few people who aren’t. She asked if I meant kidnappers and I think I responded ‘yes, kind of’. She didn’t seem overly bothered by what I said, but I feel I could have perhaps explained it better!”
Schools (10 responses) Mixed provision: proactive, reactive, none at all. Internet safety priority Lack of resources: “We have recently had good reason to speak to all of the children about stranger danger but struggled to find helpful support materials which balanced getting the message across without scaring them all”.
Police and PCSOs (3 force areas) Mainly PCSO provision on ad hoc basis – relationship with schools important Lack of training and resources: “There is no package on abduction safety or ‘stranger danger’ – you just sort of make it up as you go along. I suppose it’s common sense.”
Voluntary sector and online Staying safe from strangers integrated with other subjects Generic strategies: confidence, assertiveness Local/regional delivery, school programmes, information resources
KEY ISSUES Too often reactive ‘stranger danger’ New Beyond ‘stranger danger’ theme needed e.g. Safe, not scared Lack of teaching materials Resourcing ‘gold standard’ prevention – Behavioural Skills Training Integration with other safety subjects and generic approaches to child safety Evidence and effectiveness Broader prevention strategies