Jodie Norton, a mom of four, recently wrote a blog post that gained a lot of attention. As the old “stranger danger” rule goes, strangers are dangerous and they should not be spoken to. But what about the times when a child is in actual danger? They may need help from a stranger. Parents are now being urged to teach their children a new lesson, known as the “tricky person” concept.
On her blog, Jodie explained how the tricky person concept saved her two young sons from a possible abduction. She starts out, “Three days ago I was in the shower around 8:30am when it felt like I was shot in my left ovary. It was an unbearable pain that had me doubled over, light-headed and incredibly nauseous.”
Jodie explains that she drove her four kids and herself to their small town ER. She writes, “In a moment of what I deem foggy-thinking “pain brain” I left my two oldest boys – CJ (10) and T-Dawg (8) – outside the ER door on a bench to await our kind neighbor who said he was coming to pick them up and take them to school.”
Time Well Spent
Jodie goes on to say that her pain was due to a ruptured ovarian cyst. When her boys got home from school that day, she found out they had been late. “I had wrongly assumed my neighbor was coming from his house (not somewhere farther away), so my two boys sat out front of the ER for 40 minutes. Not the 5 minutes I had expected.”
After talking with her boys, Jodie realized the severity of what had happened during that time. “In the 40 minutes of obedient sitting and waiting, my two boys experienced their first real-world experience with the freaky, perverted strangers they’ve been intermittently warned about. While on that bench, they were approached by an adult female and two punk males who asked them if they’d ‘help them out by going into the bathroom where her boyfriend was hiding from the doctor and see if they could convince him to come out and get treated.'”
Jodie’s son CJ replied, “No thank you,” but the strangers kept after them, telling the boys that they could save the man’s life by going into the bathroom and telling him it’s safe to come out.
The strangers finally gave up, and a third adult male come out of the bathroom, jumped into the car with the others and drove off. The neighbor finally showed up and Jodie’s boys were off to school.
Jodie writes, “My anger and shock turned to immense gratitude, however, when I heard CJ spout off a family ‘stay safe’ rule we went over way too long ago that helped him know these creeps were up to no good. Most specifically, a tip for identifying a ‘tricky person.'”
CJ told Jodie, “Mom, I knew they were tricky people because they were asking us for help. Adults don’t ask kids for help.”
Pattie Fitzgerald, the creator of Safely Ever After, came up with the tricky people concept. It says, “Stop telling your kids not to talk to strangers. They might need to talk to a stranger one day. Instead, teach them which sorts of strangers are safe.”
The website details prevention tips and urges parents to talk to their kids about tricky people. One tip reads, “Remind your children: safe grownups don’t ask kids for help,” while another says, “Replace the word ‘stranger’ with ‘tricky person.’ It’s not what someone looks like, it’s what they say or want to do with a child that makes them unsafe or ‘tricky.'”
Jodie shared her story to urge parents to teach their children the tricky person concept. She writes,”I shared this whole experience with you so you could learn from it. Like we have. If you haven’t already, take the necessary time to establish your own family stay safe rules.