Parenting

Talking to your children about Tori Stafford

by Martha Scully

Yesterday, my 9 year old came home from school and seemed very bothered by something. When I asked her what was wrong, she asked me a very upsetting question, "Mommy, did some girl my age get killed by a hammer?" After further investigation, I learned that she and her friends were talking about the trial on the playground.

The information provided in the media about Tori Stafford can keep a child up for nights with nightmares. I can hardly stand to listen or watch the coverage being a parent of two girls myself. I had hoped my youngest daughter would be spared the details, but I was wrong.

I first told her that it was in the news because things like this rarely happen; if it happened all the time, the media wouldn't bother reporting it. Then, we talked about Tori and what happened to her in April, 2009. I told her how Tori talked to a stranger and trusted her; how this stranger fooled her into getting into the car. I told her that strangers aren't always scary looking men, but they can also be women who seem friendly and want to show off their cute and cuddly puppy.

When, we talked about what happened based on what my daughter already knew. We discussed how these people had something seriously wrong with them; how they were going to jail for the rest of their lives to ensure they can never hurt another person.

I've talked to both my daughters extensively about what they should do if they are approached by a stranger, but we went over it again. I told her that I would never have a stranger pick her up from school, the park, or any of her activities. I reiterated to her that if a stranger approaches her, don't be polite; just run, scream, kick, etc.

After we talked about all of this, I asked her if she had any more questions for me. She still seemed a bit upset about it, so I assured her that it was okay to be upset about what happened to Tori; we all are. I told her that I was very sad for her parents who I'm sure are missing their little girl.

Hug your kids and make sure they are familiar with how to respond to strangers.

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About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of CanadianNanny.ca. Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.