Stranger danger

Stranger danger

Stranger danger describes the danger to children presented by strangers. The phrase is intended to sum up the danger associated with adults who children do not know. The phrase has found widespread usage and many children will hear it (or similar advice) during their childhood lives. Many books, films and public service announcements have been devoted to helping children remember this advice. The concept has been criticized for ignoring the fact that most child abductions and harm are not due to strangers, but rather someone the child is familiar with or related to.

Stranger Danger is also a growing indie music compilation.[1]


Common examples

  • "Don't talk to strangers"
  • "Don't tell anyone your name"
  • "Don't let strangers touch your food or drink"
  • "Don't help strangers"
  • "Don't let strangers touch your face"
  • "If someone acts too friendly in a theater, complain to an usher or the manager"

Although there are other dangers such as kidnap for ransom, the main threat stranger danger campaigns concern is child sexual abuse. In recent years, the emphasis of such campaigns has shifted somewhat, in order to reflect the risk of abuse by persons known to the child.[2]


The process of constantly warning children of possible danger in the form of strangers has also been criticised as exaggerating the potential threat and unnecessarily spreading mistrust, especially when considering that (for example) in the US, about 800,000 children are reported at least temporarily missing every year, yet only 115 "become victims of what is viewed as classic stranger abductions".[3] In situations where the child is in danger for other reasons, avoiding strangers (who might help) could in fact be dangerous itself, such as in the case of an 11-year-old Boy Scout who avoided rescue searchers because he feared they might want to 'steal him'.[3]

Some extreme proponents of "stranger danger" warnings have however instead proposed to teach children not to approach anyone without parental permission (such as not to enter a car even if they recognise the person).[4]

Stranger danger has contributed to parents keeping children indoors, resulting in an alleged nature deficit disorder.[5]

In popular culture

In the TV show Lie To Me ("Truth or Consequences"), Dr. Lightman questions a teenage girl about a camera he found at a crime scene. She replies, "Whatever, stranger danger. Give me back my camera or I call the cops." This may imply that since she doesn't know him, his questions seem improper.

Season 1 Episode 12 of Criminal Minds. Episode title, "What Fresh Hell" (2003). Gideon and Reid mention the “Stranger Danger” program that was widely shown in public schools. Reid mentions it taught children about “scary man" instead of warning children that strangers are only a fraction of the offenders.

In the David Spade film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, the Finney children, whose parents he pays to live with, repeatedly call him "Stranger Danger" to express their discomfort with the arrangement.

An episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! looks into Stranger Danger, where they look into both sides of the issue with a heavy bias towards Stranger Danger being "bullshit."

In an episode of Adventure Time, Jake the dog drinks from a river which gives him amnesia. Because Jake can't recognize his best friend Finn the human, Finn attempts to drag Jake onward which causes Jake to scream, "Help! Stranger danger!"

In Season 1 Episode 2 "Kryptonite" of New Girl, Jess tells her ex-boyfriend, "Yeah, Stranger Danger is real."

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ BBC News: Abusers targeted in new campaign (5 June, 2002) Latest retrieval Nov. 7, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Does 'stranger danger' go too far? - MSNBC, Transcript, ET June 23, 2005
  4. ^ Case Management for Missing Children Homicide Investigation - McKenna, Rob; Attorney General of Washington & U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. May 2006
  5. ^ Outside Agitators by Bill O'Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • stranger danger — /ˈstreɪndʒə deɪndʒə/ (say straynjuh daynjuh) noun the danger that lies in talking to strangers, an awareness of which is inculcated into small children …   Australian-English dictionary

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