I had an interesting conversation with my friend who I am usually in sync with when it comes to parenting approaches. It has me wondering whether I'm too naive or whether she's letting fear go to far.

Our 3 yo go to the same University run pre-school. We received a letter from them recently regarding a male who had some contact at the school last year. He was arrested in another state for having inappropriate pictures of children on his computer. Our kids weren't in the school then and the arrest had nothing to do with any of the kids at this school. Apparently she started asking questions regarding exactly what he was arrested for. I can totally understand asking questions about what measures they take to keep the kids safe, that wasn't what she was doing. I told her I really didn't want to know the particulars in this case. It has nothing to do with my child and knowing the details is just going to feed into a fear that we all have, but that I don't want to feed. I felt bad about shutting her down, but I do not see what is to be gained by having this information.

A little while later she mentioned that her 3 yo has been asking what a "stranger" is. I was really surprised (particularly because she is a child social worker at a school) at this because I have tried to never use that word with my kids. I think it's wrong to paint all people we don't know as a possible threat, plus I simply don't think a three year old can understand what a "stranger" even is. She admitted as much, realizing that her son is trying to figure out what this "stranger" thing mom talks about is.

I don't teach my 3 year old anything about "stranger danger" because he's always with me (or at school where I want him to trust the adults). He has been taught that his penis is private etc. but that's about it at this age.

My 6 yo has been taught who to go to if he gets lost in a store (someone behind the the counter, another mom etc.). That I will never send someone to pick him up without telling him first, that he is not to go with anyone, even someone he knows without first asking me or his dad. But I don't make too big an issue of it. I don't want to raise fearful kids, but of course I do want them to be able to make safe decisions.

I've been thinking about this a lot. She is someone I talk to about parenting issues and really trust her judgment so this conversation threw me a bit and makes me wonder if I'm being to lax about this safety issue. I would love to hear from those that have older kids that have been through this already.

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IMO, no you are not lax. The vast majority of pedophilia occurs at the hands of a relative, not "strangers". Teach your kids that the parts covered by undergarments (or swimsuits) are not for others to touch, and always ask before going with anyone...just as you are doing. My kids always talk to strangers...how the hell else do you make friends?

We tried, with my older son (many years ago) to teach him about strangers....he wasn't grasping it well, so I tried explaining that if he doesn't know their name, they are a stranger. So, one day, (he was just four), and the telephone repair man knocked on my door "Ma'am, would you please come get your son out of the back of my truck"! WHAT?!
He had slipped outside while I was doing laundry, walked up to the guy with the cool truck, and asked his name. The guy said "Steve" and so my boy figured he wasn't a stranger and climbed in.
I began locking the deadbolt all the time then, because he just didn't get it, and I didn't know how to explain it without scaring him.

Anyway, at some point we began homeschooling and I realized how small their world would be, if they could only ever talk to people they knew, or were properly introduced to. I amended the rule to "never walk off with people you've never seen inside our house." and off they went, making friends with librarians, grocery store clerks, bankers, tree men, garbage men, etc. Never a problem, and many people were and are thrilled to be allowed to talk to a kid. Fear rules our society these days, it seems.

Did you know that our kids are safer than we were? I don't know about you, but at 10, I would take off on my bike every Saturday, and be gone for hours..the only rule was be home by dinner. I walked a mile to school each day as a kindergartener, by myself. (sometimes with a couple of neighbor kids, but no adults.) No one worried about me, and I was never molested, or bothered, or threatened. And there were more crimes against kids back in the 70s and 80s than there are now.

Go here http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ and read...I visit this blog every day. I don't always agree with her, but she always gives me food for thought, and facts to back up her positions. And send your friend....

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