Britain in 1971. The Mersey Tunnel (Kingsway) opened in Liverpool, Margaret Thatcher decided to take milk away from school children, the UK switched to decimal currency and the government launched a new awareness campaign titled “Stranger Danger”.
It’s understandable too, these were difficult times. The country was still reeling from child abduction cases like the Moors murders and the Cannock Chase murders in the mid to late 1960’s. The response seemed to make sense and the message was clear — strangers are dangerous.
The ideas behind ‘stranger danger’ and the myriad of similar messages and campaigns it inspired around stranger awareness seem to have stuck over the years and unfortunately can still be found in classrooms today.
Why ‘unfortunately’? Well, quite simply, it doesn’t work. Telling children to not go with, talk to or take things from strangers is a deeply flawed strategy because it assumes that children understand the abstract concept of a ‘stranger’. This isn’t the case, it’s not always clear who is and who isn’t a stranger and statistically children are more at risk from people they know than people they don’t.
If our strategy is to tell children that every stranger is a potential threat, we’re not keeping them safe, we’re just making them scared, and fear isn’t a form of self defence.
So what can we do instead? How do we protect our children without reducing them to living in fear of every unfamiliar face? We empower our children with a simple message — Clever Never Goes!
This approach was introduced last year by Action Against Abduction in response to their 2014 research paper Beyond Stranger Danger and introduces a simple, empowering and child-centric approach to safety. It goes beyond the concept of strangers and looks at all unsafe situations. Let your children know they are clever, teach them to trust their instincts and learn three simple steps.
Fear is not a tool or a method of self preservation.
The message is clear here: Fear is not a tool or a method of self preservation. Establishing a clear framework and process around who your children can go with is going to be 100% more effective than telling them to run screaming from every person they don’t know or even teaching isolated self-defence techniques.
Our Safe Not Scared programme has been developed for schools and is suitable from EYFS through to year 6. It was built alongside the key concepts explored in the Clever, Never Goes! campaign.
The sessions focus on the core concept and introduce some movement based confidence building work pulled directly from our teaching syllabus, this is all taught with one clear goal — building confident, clever children who feel safe anywhere not scared everywhere.
To learn more about Safe, Not Scared you can drop us an email or give us a call anytime.