Last week, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office hosted a Stranger Danger class at the Cumming Library aimed at teaching nearly 100 children the dangers strangers can pose and the methods in which families can protect themselves from harm.
The class was taught on Thursday morning by Cpl. Page Cash and Deputy Jenny Belafi of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. Together, they spoke with children for nearly an hour and a half, pausing for questions and participation from the audience.
“We want to teach them the difference between a good stranger and a bad stranger,” Cash said after the event.
She also walked the kids through a variety of different “imagination sceneries” that encouraged the children to think about what they would do in certain situations, with feedback from the deputies on what they should and shouldn’t do.
“And we do teach them not just [to] not to talk to strangers … but what is a stranger and who is a good stranger,” Cash said.
Cash said that they now teach parents and kids that good strangers are police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel.
“We have changed some of the teachings based on things that have happened in the past. One thing that we used to teach was that someone who works at a store is a safe stranger, and they are not. We don’t teach that anymore because we don’t know who they are,” she said.
She said that for older children, it’s important for parents to work out a safe word or phrase with their kids, so if the child does ever need to go with a stranger, that person can identify themselves.
“They might even know the parent’s name and say, ‘hey, your mom Mary sent me to get you.’ And the child would be able to ask the stranger what that word was, and if they didn’t know it, then they know they aren’t supposed to go with them,” Cash said.
For any parents who aren’t sure what to teach their children about strangers, Cash said info can be found via the sheriff’s office online, or at one of the classes on Stranger Danger that they put on within the community.
She added that parents learning what to tell their kids and reinforcing it at home is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression on children.
“We want them to be as educated as possible, because our number one job is to keep everybody safe and sometimes the way to do that … is teaching our parents and our children,” she said.