Yes, let your kids talk to strangers

Telling kids not to talk to strangers fails to protect children at the most basic level. Children are most often harmed by friends and family. This unsettling statistic is one we wish would go away. It’s far more convenient to blame the faceless stranger than to confront domestic violence, incest, and other abuse. Instead of generating fear about strangers, it’s more helpful to teach kids how to set limits on their bodies, and trust the “uh oh” feeling that comes when there’s a problem. If it feels icky, it is icky, whether the person involved is Grandpa Jack or the beloved hockey coach.
The “don’t talk to strangers” message cultivates a culture of fear. Children who have been drilled in this message sometimes freeze when a neighbor walks down the sidewalk. Others refuse to talk. Parents are scaring themselves so much with unrealistic thoughts of stranger abduction that they bring the kids indoors and limit their exposure to healthy play and exploration. This fear is overblown
“Oh, you can’t let kids walk to school these days, not with the world the way it is,” we remark to each other. We fear today’s world, but the truth is life is much safer for children today than it has been for years. Violent crime, including crimes against children, has plummeted. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, it’s at its lowest rate in 40 years. Most abductions involve family members who take children in custody disputes.