Last night, as I was leaving Michael's craft store at about 8:40pm, I saw a little girl, who looked sad, cold and shaken up, walking aimlessly in the parking lot all alone. I asked her, are you OK? She spoke French, and in her broken English she said no.
My first instinct was to hug her, which I did as she was shaking and cold. I said, let’s get in the store and warm up and try to find your Mom. She said OK. We went into the store and she was able to give me her mother's cell phone number and I called and left a message, where she called me back and she was still in the shopping area, but several stores away. She came and got her daughter, thank goodness.
In this situation, I am a stranger to this girl. My daughter said to me after “good thing you are a good stranger Mommy, because if you weren't that wouldn't be good for the little girl”. My little daughter is right.
In our Stranger Danger; Internet Safety & Bullying 101 classes, we teach about "safe strangers' these are people who are in the community, in a setting where others are around and they can trust that when they approach this 'safe stranger' behind a cash register or a waiter in a restaurant, that they can trust them for the most part.
I wouldn't have considered myself a 'safe stranger' in this situation, as I was walking in a dark parking lot with no other adults around to ensure that I was doing the appropriate things, however, I think this little girl saw me with my 6 year old daughter and I 'appeared' to be safe, so she did go with me. She used her instincts, I am assuming and did the right thing, otherwise she would have still been walking aimlessly in the parking lot. If this was my child, and any kids who take our classes, they are encouraged to go into a store and go to a "safe stranger' right away, and not walk so far away as a result.
This scenario may be a good example to talk to your child about. We are located in Barrie, ON, which for the most part is a safe city, but you never ever know what could happen. We may not be as big as a city like Markham or Vaughan, but we can still have ‘bad strangers’ lurking around unfortunately, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
Please explain to your children what could happen to them if they were faced with this situation. Especially with the busy shopping season we are in, is can be very easy to see your child one minute and completely lose sight of them the next minute. See what your child would do, and offer what you think they should do.
Be safe everyone, as Seconds Save Lives.