Stranger Danger and How to Keep Kids Safe
What Does It Mean to Be Safe? by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Sandra Salsbury [picture book, ages 4-9]
It’s easy to be paranoid as a parent since, if you keep up with the news, danger lurks everywhere. It used to freak me out even before I was a parent, hearing stories repeatedly about bad things that happen all around us. I finally had a revelation from the speaker at my business school graduation (Peter Guber, a media mogul — I was in Los Angeles, after all). Just Turn It Off.
That worked for me. Instead of the Metro section, I read the Magazine and the Travel section. Instead of the local paper, I switched to The Wall Street Journal. As a classmate pointed out, if you read The Wall Street Journal it is as if nothing bad happens in the world.
Now, with three kids, I can’t use avoidance as a personal safety strategy. We need policies for our children. Luckily my husband is not paranoid, and we’ve adopted a moderate approach to our kids’ safety. Helmets and seat belts are non-negotiable. Permission to cross the street is a license that you earn. We actually call it a Crossing License and it’s good just to cross our street but not a major intersection. It can also be revoked. My kids get special Stranger Danger training at their elementary school which is reinforced at their karate class. And internet safety is an ongoing concern. We know this is something to constantly monitor and keep up with as it is something that morphs rapidly.
Rana DiOrio’s book tackles all these safety issues that kids face growing up in suburbia. She does it in a calm and gentle way, raising the right points but without making it scary. I like how she touches on listening to your inner voice and standing up to bullies. This is the kind of book that reinforces the messages that we parents give. It allows for dialogue should an issue come up, but it can also just be an gentle reminder of how to stay safe. And that’s exactly the message that I want to impart to my kids.
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