It was saddening this week to see another young girl go missing in the UK. Tia Sharp has been missing since Friday when she left and began the 5 mile walk to go and get flip flops. She never arrived and there is no CC TV footage of her as yet. I cannot even begin to imagine what her family are going through but still find it hard to comprehend how at just 12 years old it can be considered normal and save for any child to walk five miles with no mobile phone on her. It frightens me as a parent to think of Roo walking this far as a young adult in the world we are bringing our children up in and hand on heart I don’t think I would allow it at such a young age.
That aside I hope they find Tia safe and well but her disappearance did spark a conversation in our house this week about stranger danger and answering the door in the house. When is the right time to start talking to your children about strangers and safety? Should they know sooner earlier than later that not everyone in the world can be trusted? My argument is yes. Even now at nearly four years old we’ve begun to explain to Roo about not answering the doorbell when it rings. In fact we actually lock the front door so she cannot open it or get out the house if we are upstairs or out of line of sight. We’ve explained to her that not everyone at the door is a family member and some people may be post men or delivery men and mummy and daddy only are to answer the door.
Equally when we go out she must stay with us and we bought a wristband that she wears on days out that if she were to go missing and someone finds her it has a number to call that activates our mobile phones. She’s been told that if anyone ever tries to take her somewhere and they are not mummy and daddy or a member of her family that she must scream loudly for help. We are also teaching her how to use the speed dial on the phone for family members and 999 in case of an emergency.
Whilst some may see this as over reaction and perhaps cotton wool parenting I don’t want to be the parent who goes through the hell on earth that Tia’s parents are going through. I don’t want to Roo growing up un-streetwise and living in la-la land that there are no dangerous people in the world. She doesn’t need to know the darker side of why we’re telling her she just needs to know how to be safe and prepared when she is out and about.
Whilst you are reading this post, please, please look at the photograph of Tia Sharp on this page. Have you seen her, do you know where she may be, do you have any information that may help this enquiry to find her? If you can take two seconds to share this page to your network as hopefully somebody somewhere can put this family out of their misery and reunite them.
What’s your view on the whole stranger danger talk with your children, and do you think they need to know about protecting themselves on the streets?