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.