How to Say No to Panhandlers

How to say “No” to panhandlers

Research shows panhandlers could become aggressive both by being acknowledged or ignored. Learn how to say no to panhandlers using either approach to minimize aggression.

In areas with heavy panhandling activity, encourage stakeholders, visitors and residents to consider these options to keep their district safe.

If you choose to acknowledge…

  • Make eye contact, do not break your movement and verbally give a succinct, “No.” Most panhandlers will recognize your firm stance and move on.
  • Engage the panhandler with a verbal, “No,” plus a statement of explanation or encouragement.
  • Suggest resources. Remove the attention from yourself and recommend a local shelter.

If you choose to ignore…

  • Do not say anything, and use your body language to say, “No.” Do not make eye contact or break stride. Panhandlers are unlikely to waste their time on someone who doesn’t engage.
  • Leave the area. Silently, directly and calmly walk away from the panhandler.

If the panhandler still gets aggressive…

Do not try to engage them. Suggest to your stakeholders to enter a building or crowd, and contact the local authorities.

For more information on the risks of giving to a panhandler and how respond to aggression, download our free tip sheet How to Say No to a Panhandler.

Download Now