WILMINGTON -- As a parent you want to protect your child from danger. But no matter how hard you try you can't guard your child 24/7 from predators. But how young is too young to teach children about stranger danger? And how do you do it in a way that will stick with them when you're not? These are the faces of missing children, abducted, perhaps never to be seen again. No parent wants to think about someone snatching their child. But in this day and age, it's a reality. Parent Melissa Kirby said, "It worries me very much. And I certainly feel like my husband and I have to do the best we can to educate our children." Kirkby has two children. Both have been taught at home and at school what to do if a stranger comes up to them. Sixth-grader Emily Kirby said, "Don't talk to them, you need to tell an adult if they come up to you and if you don't know them, if they tell you to 'get in the car and let's go somewhere. I'll give you a ride home,' don't listen to that." Seventh-grader Zack Kirby said, "The kids that actually paid attention during the stranger talk know what to do." Child psychologist Scott Crowder says it's extremely important to talk with your child about strangers, but not in a way that will scare them. Crowder said, "We want children, the curiosity children have we want them to delight in the world, we don't want them to be fearful all the time." Crowder says you also want to let your child know they can talk to you without you getting mad at them. "I think if a parent reacts strongly, angry, very upset, if a child or teenager inadvertently comes across a picture or something, then I think there's a risk of a child being scared to ever talk with their parent again about something like that," Crowder said. Age also plays a factor in what you say to your child, because some are just too young to understand. "I don't know how important it is to try to convince a younger child, say six or younger, obviously they are not capable of understanding larger concepts," Crowder said. But just because a child gets older and comes to realize the danger associated with strangers it doesn't mean they are safe. "As children get older and move into adolescent years, there are some risks for self esteem and there's some risk certain people will manipulate that or abuse that," Crowder said. For mom, Melissa, it's a catch-22. "You have to let there be some freedom but you have to stay in touch with them you have to monitor them." And for her kids, they think about the dangers, so they don't have to think about what could happen. "Just thinking about that's scary. Things that can happen that you don't really know," Emily said.
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