THE BLOG

Be Afraid of Children

23/09/2013 11:31 BST | Updated 20/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Last week ITV's morning Daybreak programme ran an eye-opening investigation into stranger danger.

Nine children and their parents were filmed playing in a local park. Producers hired a man to approach the children one by one, asking them to come out of the park with him to help with searching for his dog.

Of nine children, seven left with the man.

Daybreak's investigation was supposed to highlight to parents the importance of teaching their children early about strangers. The show urged parents to stress to their children that anyone can be a stranger - not just a scary-looking old person with a beard and trench coat. Parents have been told to verbally beat the mantra 'DON'T GO, SAY NO' into their children's heads - they've even produced a handy print-out that children can colour in, to make the process simpler.

As a parent, I completely understand people's fears about child abduction. But I'm worried that Daybreak's emotive investigation - and the headlines it's spawned - do nothing to help. In fact I suspect they may make the problem worse.

Most often, the greatest threat to children lies within the home - not in the park.

If we hammer home the stranger message to our children, we scare our children. We make them afraid of all adults and all places they might meet them. Frightened children will retreat more and more into their bedrooms.

Making PROJECT WILD THING, I spoke to George Monbiot about the April Jones case. Despite tragedy, he's absolutely convinced that the dangers of an indoor life far outweight the risks of the outdoors. You can watch the interview here.

When I'm on my own I feel uncomfortable passing a children's park. I'm worried about what others might think. And it's not just me. A Play England poll found that 44% of men are wary of helping a child in need in case they are suspected of abduction.

That's tragic. Think what that will do to communities. The media obsession with strangers isn't just teaching children to be wary of adults - but teaching adults to be wary of children.

The result is bad news.

David Bond's new documentary film, PROJECT WILD THING, is released in cinemas nationwide from 25th October. Find out more and join the movement at www.projectwildthing.com