After police foiled the abduction and planned rape of a 6-year-old neighbor, Kyria Takahashi was left to explain the frightening incident to her three children.
After police foiled the abduction and planned rape of a 6-year-old neighbor, Kyria Takahashi was left to explain the frightening incident to her three children. Takahashi, who lives downstairs from the victim’s Hanover home, didn’t have to worry about telling her 17-month-old daughter. And her 3-year-old son, who sometimes talked to the girl, was told that she got a “boo-boo.”
But Takahashi’s 12-year-old son was more difficult.
“How do you teach them this? Who they can trust; who they shouldn’t speak to,” Takahashi, 32, said. “I told him you can’t trust anybody.”
As parents in the small community struggled to explain the crime to their children, experts stressed the importance of teaching safety without using scare tactics.
Lynne Griffin, a Scituate parenting expert, said the lesson should be part of a broader conversation about neighborhood safety – including pointing out the “safe homes” and laying ground rules about checking in before going off with anybody.
“By doing that you can do a lot of teaching ... without them focusing in on being kidnapped,” said Griffin, author of “Negotiation Generation.” “One good scary conversation isn’t going to do it.”
Scary stories about strangers with candy are also rarely effective because the majority of children are attacked by someone they know, said Weymouth safety officer Bob Barry.
The most important thing a parent can do is maintain a calm, open dialogue with their children. And checking with parents before they change plans or leave with a friend or stranger should be a priority, Barry said.
He also encourages parents to teach their children how to recognize inappropriate behavior on the part of an adult, and institute role-playing to help children practice escaping a dangerous situation.
But, he emphasized, don’t scare them.
“Parents have to have a good, calm rapport with their kids,” he said.
“You want to keep them safe, but you don’t want to be to the point where parents say ‘the bad man can take you forever.’”
Reach Kaitlin Keane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff reporter John P.Kelly contributed to the report