Do you know how to be street smart? Being street smart means knowing
how to keep yourself safe from strangers when you're alone or with other kids. Whether
you're walking to school or to the bus, hanging out on the playground, or riding your
bike in your neighborhood, being street smart helps you stay safe.
When you're street smart, you know your way around, you know how handle yourself in
tough situations, and you're able to "read" people.
Imagine if a baby were able to walk around alone. The baby couldn't understand
a "Don't Walk" sign, wouldn't know where to go for help, and couldn't find the way
back home. What's more, the baby might not know good people from bad people. The baby
would be in danger.
Thank goodness you're not a baby anymore! You know your way around and you know
the rules of the road. The most complicated thing to learn is how to deal with strangers (people
you don't know).
But if you follow a few rules all the time and trust your instincts,
you can be really street smart.
Who Are Strangers?
When you're walking home from school, a person in a car pulls up and asks you for
directions. At the park, someone says he needs you to help look for his lost puppy.
These people may seem friendly, but no matter what they say to you, they have one
thing in common: They're strangers.
Most strangers aren't dangerous and wouldn't do anything to hurt
kids. Unfortunately, though, some strangers can be dangerous, and it's impossible
to tell who's OK and who's not. A dangerous person doesn't necessarily look scary
or mean — the person might look nice.
That's why it's important to follow these safety rules all the time:
Make Your Whereabouts Known
The adult who's taking care of you needs to know where you are at all times. That
means telling your mom or dad, grandmother, babysitter, or whoever is keeping an eye
on you where you are and when you'll be coming home.
Stick With a Friend
It's more fun and safer to do things with friends. Take along a buddy when you
walk to school, bike around the park, or go to the store. Traveling with a friend
whenever you can is a good idea, and traveling with a bunch of kids is even better.
Pick Out Safe Spots
What are safe spots? Safe spots are places where you can stop
if you need help, like the houses of kids you know, your parents' friends' houses,
stores, restaurants, police stations, libraries, and fire departments. When you're
walking or riding your bike, make a mental note of the safe spots along your route.
That way, you'll know where they are in case you ever need one.
Avoid Places That Aren't Safe
Be sure to keep away from isolated areas. These are places where no one is around,
like the woods or small, dark streets.
Let Grown-Ups (and Only Grown-Ups) Help Strangers
It's nice to help people. But remember: Strangers should ask adults —
not kids — for help.
If a stranger approaches you and asks you for help — such as with giving
directions, finding lost money, or searching for a runaway dog — don't help.
Don't even give an answer. Right away, you should walk the other way. If you're not
near a safe spot, try any store or restaurant. If you feel you're in danger, yell
Stay Away From Strangers' Cars
If a stranger pulls up in a car and offers you a ride, don't get in. You probably
know that rule, right? But that's not all of it. It's also important to avoid a stranger's
car completely. If a stranger asks you to look in the car, don't do it. Don't agree
to look in the trunk or in the back of a truck or van. Don't put your arm in the window
to take something or point to something. Don't agree to come closer to see a pet or
to get a toy that's offered.
If a stranger offers you a toy, some candy, a stuffed animal, or anything else,
don't ever take it. Even if it's something you really want, if the
offer is coming from a stranger, you should ignore the person and walk the other way.
If a stranger walks up or pulls up in a car and you're too far away to hear the
person, don't go closer, even if the person waves you over. Just get away. Run the
opposite way that the car is heading. Get to an adult you know, a police officer,
a security guard, or one of your safe spots as fast as you can if the stranger comes
What if a stranger comes to pick you up from school,
sports, dancing lessons, or the park? This is no different from any other time —
a stranger is a stranger, so don't get in the car. Even if the stranger says that
your parents sent him or her, or that there's an emergency and you must get in the
car and go to the hospital, turn right around and tell an adult what happened. Your
parents would have told you if someone else was coming to pick you up, and if an emergency
really did happen, they would send someone you know, not a stranger.
Even if the stranger knows your name, don't be fooled. There are lots of ways to
find out kids' names, even when someone doesn't know them or their families. Do you
have a jacket or a piece of jewelry that has your name on it? That's an easy way for
someone to learn your name. Or a stranger could see something about you on someone's
social media site — even your name and a picture of you!
Make a Lot of Noise If You're Scared
You've probably been told lots of times that you should not yell. You should keep
it down, be calm, or use your inside voice. When you think you might be in danger,
forget all of that advice! That's the perfect time to be noisy!
If a stranger approaches you (on foot or in a car) and follows you when you try
to walk away, yell for help as you run away. If a stranger ever tries to grab you,
yell as loudly as you can and try to get away. You can shout things like, "Help! I
don't know you!" or "Help! This isn't my dad!" People in the area will hear what's
going on and help you, so make plenty of noise.
Trust Your Instincts
Kids need to follow the rules of street smarts all the time with every
stranger, even if the situation seems fine. And if your instinct is telling
you something is dangerous or just not quite right, get out of the area, tell an adult,
or call 911. No one will
think that you are silly. In fact, just the opposite — people will think that
you're truly street smart!