"The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children does not ascribe to the “stranger-danger” message. We have learned children do not have the same understanding of whom a stranger is as an adult might; therefore, it is a difficult concept for the child to grasp. It is much more beneficial to children to help them build the confidence and self-esteem they need to stay as safe as possible in any potentially dangerous situation they encounter, rather than teaching them to be “on the look out” for a particular type of person. The “stranger-danger” message is not effective and, based on what we know about those who harm children, danger to children is greater from someone they or their family knows than from a “stranger.”
I recommend the publication titled Guidelines for Programs to Prevent Child Victimization: A Resource for Communities When Choosing A Program to Teach Personal Safety to Children, available on our web site. This publication provides research and data concerning effective safety messages for children. A copy of an article I wrote titled Child Safety is More Than a Slogan that deals with the issue of “stranger-danger,” is available on this link: http://www.ncmec.org/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=713.
NCMEC’s complete Reprint Policy is available at: http://www.ncmec.org/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=620.
Nancy A. McBride
National Safety Director
National Center for Missing &
MOLLY BARROW, PH.D.
Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the author of Matchlines for Singles, Matchline for Couples, and Malia and Teacup: Awesome African Adventure and Malia and Teacup: Out on a Limb. As an authority on relationship and psychological topics,Dr. Barrow is a member of the American Psychological Association, Screen Actors Guild, and Authors Guild and is a licensed mental health counselor. Dr. Molly has appeared as an expert in the film, My Suicide, documentaries Ready to Explode and KTLA Impact, NBC news, PBS In Focus, WBZT talk radio, and in O Magazine, Psychology Today, Newsday, New York Times, CNN, The Nest, MSN.com, Yahoo, Match.com, Women's Health, Harvard Business School, Women's World, has a radio show on blogtalkradio.com and is a columnist for Menstuff.org.