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Why do parents tell their children not to talk to strangers?

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Quick Answer

Parents warn children not to talk to strangers mainly for safety reasons. Children are vulnerable to the influence and manipulation of older people. Despite the relative rareness of stranger abduction, parents should err on the side of caution with a strong edict about stranger interaction.

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Full Answer

It's important to keep the strangers rule in perspective, and teaching children about context is necessary, too. For instance, in a situation where a child needs help, children must know that it's okay for them to talk to a police officer, paramedic, fire official or similar authority figure, even if that person is a stranger to them.

However, children must also recognize that it's not normal or acceptable for an unknown person to suddenly engage them for assistance or demand their help. Predatory adults may lure kids with fictional stories about lost puppies, a parent's auto accident, or being a friend of a parent.

Children who are taught the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior understand that an adult shouldn't be coming to them for help. They also know not to blindly accept anything a stranger says to them, and always seek verification. Advising children against speaking to strangers at all is the strongest available parental tactic.

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