x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Child safety in the media

Kate Shanahan, a mother of three from Dubai, explains how she broached the subject of stranger danger:

Kate Shanahan, a mother of three from Dubai, explains how she broached the subject of stranger danger:

My two eldest girls were born and spent their early years in London. There were a number of abductions around that time, so like all mums, I spoke to my children about the importance of not going off with strangers.  My eldest would have been about four or five at the time. We didn’t go into detail because we didn’t want to scare them, but we made it clear they weren’t allowed to go off with anyone they didn’t know and that not all grown-ups are ‘nice’.  My kids love 101 Dalmatians and what better example of a mean adult to draw upon than Cruella de Vil?

We also said they couldn’t race off when we went to the park or supermarket and that they had to stay in sight at all times. If they got lost or parted from me in a mall, they knew to find a security guard, a policeman if they were in the street, or failing that, go into a big shop and ask someone working behind the till. While it’s a shame to burst that lovely bubble of childhood innocence, it was a necessary part of keeping them out of harm’s way.

The girls just accepted it as something they weren’t allowed to do. Later on, the Madeleine McCann story was all over the news and the kids were quite upset that Madeleine had been parted from her parents. That helped get the message across because it was a real-life story of a little girl being parted from her mum and dad, which was the most terrible thing they could imagine.

Now the girls are 10 and eight (my youngest is nearly two), they know that if someone tries to take them anywhere against their will they should scream loudly, make a big fuss and get away as quickly as possible, even if they have to hit, kick and bite to do so.