SHORT HILLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Parents in a Long Island community are on alert after an attempted luring incident.
A teenaged girl walking home on Skookwams Court in West Islip was approached by a man driving a van. The man asked the teen if she wanted to get inside, saying he had friends who wanted to play with her.
That teen got away safely, but highlights the need to teach your children what to do if a stranger approaches.
CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock spoke with an expert for advice on what your children should do if confronted by a stranger.
“That somebody is going to come and take my child, that is definitely my biggest fear,” mother Stephanie Herman told Murdock on Friday.
Predators just waiting for the opportunity to snatch children may offer gifts, say “mommy or daddy sent me to get you,” or just wait for kids to stray a little too far, Murdock reported.
“Even in my backyard, they’re always in my eye. I always know they’re there,” a mother said.
Therapist and parenting expert Tammy Gold said it’s necessary to teach children about stranger danger.
She said that conversation can begin when children are as young as 2.
“Keep close to mom, always hold my hand when we’re out and about, don’t run ahead,” Gold said.
Gold said the three most important things to teach your children who are old enough to understand are:
- Never talk to strangers
- Stay close to mommy and daddy when out
- Teach them how to scream and what to say
“This is not my mommy, this is not my daddy. I need help,” Gold advised.
Make sure they know it’s okay to be rude, Gold recommends.
“You can do whatever you need to do in that moment to make a scene and mommy and daddy are not going to get upset with you,” she told Murdock.
Another tip is to teach your kids that strangers do not ask kids for help.
For older children who walk home on their own, line their route with safe places.
“You know that on West Street, you always go to Mrs. Brown’s house,” Gold said.
Make sure they know who to call for or go to for help so they never approach a stranger.
Experts say it’s important to remind your child that just because they’re with friends it doesn’t mean their safe. They should never go anywhere with a stranger even if armed with friends.
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