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When To Talk To Stangers

From the moment most children learn to talk, their parents begin teaching them not to talk to strangers. Until now, it's been a universally accepted rule.

But in his book Protecting the Gift, author Gavin de Becker says kids who don't talk to strangers are actually at greater risk of being victimized by a predator. CBS News This Morning reports.


"If your child is ever separated from you, the skill he'll need is to talk to strangers. He'll need to know [whom] to ask and how to ask questions," says de Becker.

The rule, never talk to strangers, doesn't work because child predators don't come across to kids as strangers, he says.

"When we ask kids to define strangers, they say it's someone with a gun or someone who is dangerous," he adds.

Instead he suggests the method of Anna McDonald, a mom profiled in his book. She teaches her kids to approach strangers and sends them to talk to them as she watches from 10 feet away.

"The key gift to give your children is to help them understand what behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate," de Becker says.


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"If anyone ever says 'don't yell,' yell. If anyone ever tells a child 'don't tell,' the correct response is tell. These are fun games you can play with your child," he adds.

Another rule that de Becker disagrees with is teaching kids to go to a police officer when they are lost because finding one can be difficult.

Instead kids should go to a woman, he says. "A woman is far less likely to be a sexual predator as opposed to a man the child might choose."

"The woman will commit herself to getting that kid back safely whereas a man might say, 'Hey, go over there and talk to the manager,'" he explains.

And there will always be a woman around to turn to, he says. "You don't want them [kids] to travel or have to look all over the place for that policeman, because they're getting farther away."

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Protecting the Gift
Even though de Becker points out that the No. 1 parental fear is that a child wilbe kidnapped by a stranger, he says it this is an unlikely event.

"Out of 70 million children in America, it happens fewer than a 100 times a year," he says.

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