By Sophie Olson
This is an image from Charley Says – a series of public information films that were shown to children in the 1970’s /1980’s. One was called Strangers and ended with the words “never go anywhere with men or ladies you don’t know.” The film increased my awareness of stranger danger but I didn’t equate it to the abuse I suffered at the hands of a family member, inside my own home.
Over 90 percent of children sexually abused are abused by someone they know and there are an estimated 11 million adult survivors of Child sexual abuse in the U.K. alone. (Radford et al). These statistics suggest we will all know people abused in childhood and -unbeknown to us, will likely know perpetrators as well. The silence is as deafening now as it was when I was a child in the 1980’s. The stranger narrative still exists in the form of CSE, and online grooming education . This is equally important but we must never shy away from raising awareness of the threat posed to children by people they know, and people within their own family.
My mother said Never Get In A Car With A Stranger because who knows what a Stranger might do
I could not tell her The Stranger was already in my house
his suits lined up in the wardrobe downstairs
I could not say his coat hung on the back of the door
that he sat at my table
and dined with me
and took me for a drive in his car to the place where Strangers go
to do what Strangers do to the child who gets in the car with a Stranger