Study: Most kids don't understand danger of talking to strangers

GARDENA, CA (NBC) - The kids at Gardena's 135th Street School's kindergarten class are reluctant to consider their ice cream man as a stranger, but for the purposes of keeping them alert and safe, he is.

The Kids Intuition program, part of the non-profit Find the Children, goes from class to class, school to school, teaching kids age appropriate tips for staying safe.

"When parents talk to children about strangers, as they say, 'Don't talk to strangers.' And what we found when we talk to young children is they have no idea what that means," explained Find the Children director Karen Strickland. "A lot of kids will tell you that a stranger is a mean looking man with a beard. But really strangers come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. And I think that's the point that we make with children. We even say to them, your speaker, the person that's speaking to you is a stranger."

Find the Children is working on hundreds of parental child abduction cases right now, but this program is geared toward the adults the kids don't know, a lesson that has so far reached 600,000 kids in both English and Spanish.

"Even beyond the kids knowing, who a stranger is, who's not a stranger, the teachers get the message too," said Rora Jones, of Kid Intuition. "You can see on their faces like, 'Ooh, I didn't know that.'"

There are also adult classes for parents who may not know the best way to talk their kids about danger and how to make them feel empowered instead of just afraid.

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