Letter: Parents' fears

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Sir: Diane Coyle (Comment, 3 August) was right to call for more freedom for children and to attack the "stranger danger" approach, but for two better reasons than those she mentioned.

First, it is a lie. Strangers are not dangerous. The vast majority of them are kind to children. Abuse is most likely to come from relatives, friends or associates. If a child is lost or in difficulty, their best strategy is to ask the first person they meet for help. If they have been taught the "stranger danger" slogan they are left helpless in a very frightening world. Surely it cannot be right for us to give our children a fear of almost everybody in the world.

Second, young children do not know whom they should consider "strangers". When asked, they don't know whether to include their neighbours, the schoolteacher, the milkman, their doctor, a policeman in uniform or a well-known TV personality. In fact "stranger" is more a pejorative term than a useful guide to safety. We all rely on strangers all the time and it is very rare for them to let us down.


Warboys, Cambridgeshire