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How to keep kids safe and aware of 'familiar strangers'

Familiar strangers are people we see every day but may not talk to. Experts have tips on how to keep kids safe and aware of the dangers of familiar strangers.

AUSTIN, Texas — A lot of us have experienced the sense of being familiar with somebody without knowing their name or ever having had a conversation with them.

These "familiar strangers" are the people we see every day, on a regular basis, but never talk to or know anything about. Familiar strangers include a wide variety of people, like classmates, someone you see often at the gym or someone you see daily at a coffee shop.

Experts say in most cases, if you're someone who goes to work at the same time every day or who may ride the bus, you'll start noticing the same people during your daily routine. They are people who you may recognize, even if you don't really know each other.

However, according to Healthboard.com, sometimes, unsettling or frightening situations can lead someone to interact with a familiar stranger because the familiarity provides a level of comfort and support. 

Familiar strangers are more common in smaller groups than large ones. This can include small businesses, private schools and small neighborhoods. 

Experts say there are tips parents can teach their children when it comes to being around familiar people in possible bad situations. These include using a loud voice to yell for help, looking around to see if there's an adult nearby to help and, if you are close to home, running home quickly. 

Experts at Kidshealth.org say kids are likely to be less approachable to strangers who are mean-looking or scary. However, sometimes the bad guys are regular-looking people who can come off friendly. Because of this, parents are encouraged to teach their children that instead of judging a person by their appearance, they should judge them by their actions.

Ways to do this is include telling kids to trust their gut and if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, to walk away and leave the situation. 

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