FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Brian Levchuk’s son is only 2½ years old. Even at such a young age, he’s already been briefed about an all too familiar topic: strangers.
Levchuk, of Branford, said, “Stay close to mommy and daddy when we are in the park. Don’t wander off. Don’t get too far from us and don’t talk to strangers.”
According to police, that’s the message every parent should be sending. Conversations have to be ongoing all the time about safety around strangers.
Chief Gary MacNamara with the Fairfield police department has some important information for parents. First, you want your children to know there’s a problem well before they interact with a stranger.
“We often times have conversations around our kids about scenario based safety. What if somebody comes looking for a lost puppy? What if somebody is looking for a lost child? What we want is to have the conversation way before that. You want to establish what a normal day and activity would look like. It’s not normal for a car to pull up to a child. It’s not normal for an adult to approach a child,” MacNamara said.
MacNamara adds that if someone does try to lure and or take your child, they need to do one simple thing.
“Make noise, try to get attention from someone to help you so you can get attention and stop the attack,” the chief said. “Another piece of advice, have your child carry a small air horn like this, either in their pocket or in a backpack. This way if they’re approached by a stranger and don’t feel safe all they have to do [is use the horn] and that will cause attention to the situation.”
Also, if you’re worried about an area your child has to walk or bike to and from school, MacNamara says walk the route with them and identify any potential problems. “And then provide action steps or discussion that you can have with your children if someone approaches you along the way,” he said.
The earlier you give stranger information to your kids, the better off they’ll be. “If he wanders off and he sees somebody that he doesn’t know, and I don’t know that person, he turns back and either runs to his mother and me,” Levchuk said.
“Identifying [what is] not normal and then doing the right thing is the successes that we are looking for,” MacNamara said.