Back in the 1970s, I remember being given A4 sheets to colour in, one of which depicted a wolf holding a bag of sweets out to a young girl dressed in a red cloak (reminding me of the story of little red riding hood, of course). The heading on the sheet was “Don’t talk to strangers” and that is what we were all told as children. Our surrounding community was our sanctuary and we should feel safe within it, but we should beware of strangers offering us gifts or lifts.
Were we all led astray?
It would seem, according to today’s statistics, that we were indeed led astray. Statistics show that on average, since the 1970s, six children per year have been abducted and murdered by strangers – in itself a worrying statistic – but then compare that with the statistic that, on average, two children A WEEK or are murdered within their own home.
Ways in which we are trying to reduce these numbers come in a number of forms:
1. Police now take domestic violence cases much more seriously. If a man is hitting his female partner, it is probable that he is also harming any child in the house.
2. We listen much more to what children say. By doing this, we hear from them in their simple terms what they dream of, what hopes they have and also, what fears they have.