A stranger is anyone you don't know. There is no way to tell by the way a person looks if they are dangerous or not. A dangerous person does not always look mean or scary, so judging by the way people look is a mistake. It's not so easy to tell who is okay and who is not.

Just because someone looks nasty doesn't mean that they would hurt you and just because someone looks nice, doesn't mean that they are a nice person.

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There is only one person that is with you all the time and can be responsible for keeping you safe at all times. THAT PERSON IS YOU! Safety rules need to apply ALL THE TIME, not just when someone who looks bad or scary is around. One of the most common ways that kids get hurt by strangers is when being friendly and helpful to adults who pretend to need help. When you are without your parents or other adult you know, it is your job to protect yourself. It is not your job to offer help to any adults, even if they ask! A grown-up who needs help should get help from another adult, not a child. So remember, looking out for yourself is your biggest job when you are not with your parents or another adult, so you have permission to ignore or refuse adult requests for help.

Here are some safety tips to follow:

You should learn —

  • Your full name, address, including city, state and zip code
  • Your phone number, including area code
  • Your parents' names, work addresses, and phone numbers.
  • How to use both a push button and rotary-dial telephone.
  • How to make an emergency call to your parents or for help from a pay phone.
  • How to make a long distance call (both directly to your parents using the area code, and by dialing "0" for the operator).

When you are home alone you should —

  • Never tell anyone over the phone that you are home alone.
  • Never answer the door when home alone. Talk through a door or window to anyone delivering a package, and to tell the person to leave the package at the door. Never open the door to strangers!
  • Know how to call the emergency assistance number (often 911).
  • Know of a neighbor to call if someone tries to get into the house or if there is any kind of emergency.

When in a public place such as a shopping mall —

  • Never look for the adult you were with if you become separated while shopping or are in any public place. Instead, find the nearest checkout counter, security office, or lost and found, and tell the person in charge that you have lost your mom or dad, or other adult you are with and need help in finding them.
  • And, you should NEVER go to a parking lot without your parents or the adult you are with.

At all times you should —

  • Ask your parents' permission to leave the yard or to go to a neighbor's house. Older children should phone home to tell parents where they are, especially if they change locations.
  • Never go into anyone's home without your parents' permission. All kids should learn what homes they are allowed to enter.
  • Come home before dark.
  • Always avoid dark or abandoned places.

When you are not with an adult who is taking care of you —

  • Walk and play with others and use the buddy system. If you walk somewhere, walk with other children. It doesn't just make the trip more fun, it makes it safer too. You are an easy target when walking alone.
  • Adults do not usually ask children for directions or help, they should be asking other adults. If someone in a car should stop to ask for directions, you should not go near the car.
  • Stay an arms reach or more away from strangers. Stand up, back up and run to someone who can help you if you feel afraid.
  • If someone is following you on foot or in a car, go to a place where there are other people--to a neighbor's home or into a store, a police station or even a library for instance--and ask for help. You should not go near the car to talk to anyone inside and should not try to hide behind bushes or in any isolated area..
  • No one should ask you to look for lost items such as a "lost puppy" or tell you that either of your parents is in trouble and that he or she will take you to mom or dad. If someone tells you this, run the other way immediately and find help with an adult you know or run into a safe place you know.
  • Never go near a car with someone in it or get into a car without your parents' permission. You should learn whose cars you are allowed to ride in.
  • Someone might try to lure you into a car by claiming your mom or dad said to pick you up; never obey those instructions. Instead, go back to the school or place you are leaving for help. Share a code word with your parents known only among family members. This way anyone offering a ride unexpectedly--even a family friend-will have been given the code word and you will know for sure that it is okay to go with that person.
  • Yell and scream, "This is not my parent!" if someone tries to take you away. Make a lot of noise if you are afraid! Yell as loud as you can!
  • Don't talk to strangers.
  • NEVER take anything from strangers - not gifts or even your own things.
  • NEVER go anywhere with someone you don't know.

Sometimes even people you know can do things to you that aren't right, just as easy as strangers can —

  • Tell your parents if any adult asks you to keep a "secret."
  • Tell your parents if someone offers you gifts, money, drugs, or wants to take your picture.
  • No one should touch you in any part of your body that would be covered by a bathing suit. AND you should not touch anyone else in those areas either. Everyone's body is special and private.
  • Avoid adults who are waiting around a playground--particularly an adult who wants to play with you and your friends.
  • Never hitch hike or get a ride with anyone, unless your parents have told you it is okay to accept the ride.
  • YOU have the right to say NO to anyone who tries to take you somewhere, touches you, or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.

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