Talking to Strangers, Part 1
“Don’t talk to strangers,” Parents warn their children.
Stranger Danger is everywhere. Just look what happened to Little Red Riding hood. And there are always plenty of lurid stories on the news to make the wolf who is lying in wait, quite real and terrifying.
In teaching children not to talk to strangers we tell them and ourselves that safe way of avoiding potential dangers is avoidance.
In teaching children to be afraid of strangers, we teach them not to engage with anyone outside our social circle whose status is known and approved of.
We teach our children, and also ourselves to be afraid of anything and anyone who is different. Is it anyone wonder that children today are filled with anxiety, particularly social anxiety.
Every encounter with the unknown is potentially dangerous. And the only safe people are those that you already know.
I grew up in an era when parents told their children, go out and play, be home by dark.
Everything outdoors within certain limits of the neighborhood where I lived mine to explore.
My best friend and I, having read Harriet the Spy, bought red sweatshirts and notebooks and like Harriet, began spying on the neighbors, even peering in windows.
We discovered a larger world, beyond what our parents knew. Some of it was strange, inexplicable, sometimes unsavory but also fascinating.
Because we were not afraid of strangers, we learned to follow our fascinations.
And we learned how to make friends.
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