BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – They did everything right — that’s the word from the Canada Safety Council after two girls escaped potential predators in separate incidents in B.C. over the last week.
On Monday, a 15-year-old girl in Burnaby is said to have approached her outside Cariboo Hill Secondary School.
Mounties say he apparently tried to start a conversation with her, but when she ran away, he took a lunge toward her.
On Tuesday afternoon, an eight-year-old girl told police she had to fight off a man who tried to grab her while she was riding her bike home from school in Nanaimo.
In that case, she tells police she was approached by a man who got out of his truck and tried to show her something inside the vehicle. The RCMP says when he apparently tried to grab her, she kicked him and was able to get back on her bike to escape.
Mounties are praising the girl’s actions and reminding parents to prepare their kids for dangerous situations like these.
Investigators in Burnaby are looking for a south Asian man, around 30 years old, seen driving a silver, older model, four-door sedan which has some missing paint near the front license plate. In Nanaimo, the RCMP is looking for a white man with a dark beard and dark hair.
Neither girl was hurt.
Strangers and safety: recommendations from the CSC
In both cases, Lewis Smith with the Canada Safety Council says the girls acted correctly.
“It’s important for a parent to instill the importance of trusting your instincts to children,” the manager of national projects at the CSC tells NEWS 1130.
However, he notes teaching kids that all strangers are a threat isn’t the best approach.
“Not all strangers are inherently bad, and the ‘stranger-danger’ or ‘never talk to strangers’ model isn’t really the way to go,” Smith says, adding there are a few reasons for this.
For one, he says it can be confusing for children, especially if their parents are speaking with strangers and aren’t “modelling the same behaviour.”
Smith says there are also situations when you need to call on a stranger for help in an emergency. That, he explains, can confuse a child.
So how can a parent teach a child to rely on their instincts? Smith says the best thing to do is to practice what-if scenarios.
“It’s very helpful for a child to be able to contextualize before it happens. Talk with your child about the importance of, if you’re offered a ride with a stranger, why is that not ok? Why should that make you feel uncomfortable?”
He stresses the importance of talking about the “why” of not doing something. “Because, ultimately, we’re trying to instill our children with values and attitudes that will serve them well throughout their lives, rather than just a how-to manual on how to survive childhood.”
It’s important to teach children where they go to get help if their parents or someone they know isn’t around, he adds.