Ju’Riese Colon, Executive Director for External Affairs at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in Virginia, says that message isn’t only inaccurate, it’s also confusing for kids. After all, not only are crimes against children often perpetrated by people they know, but most kids don’t understand what “stranger” means.
“It’s difficult for children to discern who a stranger is,” she says, “because if I meet you today, am I still a stranger?”
“Abductions are happening when kids are going to teachers or away from teachers,” Colon says, adding that’s the reason NCMEC has developed KidSmartz, a free, school-based safety program that teachers can easily incorporate into class time. “Parents have a lot on their plates, so we want to make sure that educators take an active role because kids spend most of their time at school.”
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