Stranger dan­ger

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN WEEKES

Schools and par­ents should avoid us­ing the term ‘‘stranger dan­ger’’ to chil­dren, be­cause most child abuse is com­mit­ted by peo­ple known to their vic­tims, po­lice say.

Welling­ton schools warned par­ents and care­givers this week to en­sure chil­dren walked in groups af­ter re­ports of sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity in the north­ern sub­urbs.

How­ever, Roland Her­mans, po­lice ad­viser to schools, said the ‘‘stranger dan­ger’’ con­cept was out­dated, dis­cred­ited and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous.

The ‘‘cliched’’ term made it ‘‘eas­ier for abusers known to the child’’, be­cause chil­dren might think peo­ple known to them would not harm them.

But peo­ple known to their vic­tims were ’’the most com­mon source by far of abuse in New Zealand’’, he said.

‘‘Chil­dren need to know how to iden­tify and tell a trusted per­son if any­one is be­hav­ing to­wards them in a way that makes them feel un­safe.

‘‘Nor­mal­is­ing the term ‘stranger dan­ger’ goes against this.’’

‘‘They think that, if they have told chil­dren to avoid strangers, they will be keep­ing their chil­dren safe from abuse.

‘‘Rather than con­cen­trat­ing on stereo­typ­i­cal strangers, it is im­por­tant chil­dren know about the be­hav­iours to avoid and re­port, no mat­ter whether they come from a per­son un­known or fa­mil­iar to the child.’’

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