How do you teach your kids about strangers and personal safety in general?

Today, I lost it. Ben left the house to play with his friend on our driveway. I always keep a close eye on him, but I turned around for a minute to tend to Will and then noticed he was no longer there. Thankfully, Brendan was home. He went out to look for him and found him at the end of the street, which is down a hill and definitely not within our view. We sternly told him to stay within view of our house and then he ran off again. This time, I watched him as he quickly ran into an unknown neighbour’s backyard with his friend. Brendan ran to get him, and I made him come inside. I explained to him why leaving our sight wasn’t allowed. He could get hurt, and we wouldn’t be able to help him. There could be people we don’t know around who don’t have his best intentions in mind. He could get taken or lost and never see us again. I had to get through to him somehow. I’ve talked to Ben about stranger danger and safety in the past but this time, I think he truly listened. It’s not easy to bring up the dark side of the world to our innocent kids. But it’s, unfortunately, necessary.

Although I do want him to feel free to explore, I don’t want him leaving my sight. Not at the age of five. And not without telling me where he’s going. What do you say to your kids to make sure they remain safe?