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“Tricky People” Are the New Strangers

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Right after Diddy was born, I was in the car listening to NPR and I heard a child safety educator say, “Stop telling your kids not to talk to strangers. They might need to talk to a stranger one day. Instead, teach them which sorts of strangers are safe. You know who’s safe? A mom with kids. Period. Your kid gets separated from you at the mall? Tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees.”

This was fantastic advice. I have shared it with everyone who will listen, ever since.

Last month, I finally got to meet the woman who’d said this brilliant thing, when I had the enormous good fortune of attending a kid’s safety seminar led by Pattie Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After. Safely Ever After offers seminars to adults and children on the subject of “keeping kids safe from child molesters and abuse.”

I didn’t seek Pattie out. I don’t spend every moment of the day worrying that my kids are going to end up in white slavery. But Diddy and Gaga’s preschool offers the material to parents of pre-K students as a preamble to teaching it to the pre-K kids, and Diddy’s a pre-K kid, so I went to hear what Pattie had to say. (And in light of all the Miramonte Elementary madness, I am thrilled I did.)

If it makes you uncomfortable to think about offering this sort of material to a 5 year-old, let me reassure you by saying our school offers an opt-out. But after spending a morning listening to Pattie’s presentation, I can honestly say I would have let her go teach my 3 year-old about “tricky people.” If the boys could understand it, I’d have her come over and talk to them, too.

And they’d like it. Really. I did.  Sitting around listening to all the horrible things that could happen to your kids might not sound like a good time — but oddly enough, with Pattie Fitzgerald, it is.

For one thing, Pattie knows her stuff, and I felt confident that her information was accurate and her advice studied and strong. For another, she’s pretty funny — so the material she presented never felt horribly gloom-and-doomy so much as matter-of-fact and manageable.

FOR INSTANCE:

  • It is unlikely your kid is going to be abused by a weirdo at the park (huge sigh of relief).
  • That said, if there is a weirdo at the park, he’s not going to fit the “stranger” model — so stop teaching your kid about strangers! He’s going to come up to your kid and introduce himself. Voila! He ain’t a stranger anymore.
  • Teach your kids about TRICKY PEOPLE, instead. TRICKY PEOPLE are grown-ups who ASK KIDS FOR HELP (no adult needs to ask a kid for help) or TELLS KIDS TO KEEP A SECRET FROM THEIR PARENTS (including, IT’S OKAY TO COME OVER HERE BEHIND THIS TREE WITHOUT ASKING MOM FIRST. Not asking Mom is tantamount to KEEPING A SECRET.)
  • Teach your kids not to DO ANYTHING, or GO ANYWHERE, with ANY ADULTS AT ALL, unless they can ask for your permission first.

See how I said ANY ADULTS AT ALL? That’s because:

  • It’s far more likely your kid is going to be abused by someone they have a relationship with, because most cases of abuse follow long periods of grooming — both of the kid and his or her family.
  • Bad guys groom you and your kids to gauge whether or not you’re paying attention to what they’re doing, and/or to lure you into dropping your guard. Don’t. Kids who bad guys think are flying under their parents’ radars, or kids who seem a little insecure or disconnected from their parents, are the kids who are most at risk.

SO:

  • Be suspicious of gifts that adults in positions of authority give your kids. There’s no reason your son should be coming back from Bar Mitzvah study with a cool new keychain or baseball hat.
  • Be suspicious of teachers who tell you your kid is so special they want to offer him more one-on-one time, or special outings. That teacher who says your kid is into Monet, he wants to take him to a museum next weekend? Say thanks, and take your kid to go see the exhibit yourself.
  • You know that weird adult cousin of yours who’s always out in the yard with the kids, never in the kitchen drinking with the grown-ups? Keep an eye on your kids when he’s around.
  • Oh, and that soccer coach who keeps offering to babysit for free, so you can get some time to yourself? NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.

And, here’s another good reason to add to the PANTHEON of reasons to teach your children the anatomically correct names for their genitalia:

  • There isn’t a child molester on earth who’s going to talk to your daughter about her vagina. Really. But if she suddenly starts calling it a cupcake, you can ask her who taught her that.

*

Ultimately, after spending an hour with Pattie, I felt LESS worried, not more. That, to me, is the number one sign of a good book or seminar about parenting — it doesn’t stress you out.

And you know why Pattie Fitzgerald and  Safely Ever After won’t stress you out?

BECAUSE SHE’S CHOCKFUL OF CHECKLISTS!

She’s got a PREVENTION TIPS list, a RED FLAGS & WARNINGS list, and my personal favorite, a THE SUPER-10, PLAY IT SAFE FOR KIDS AND GROWN-UPS! list.

Check out Pattie’s site. Read her material, buy her kids book, organize a bunch of like-minded parents to take her seminars. I promise you’ll feel better after — and way safer — when you do.

Related posts:

I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

Categories: Checklists, Diddy, Essential Reading, Gaga, and Tips / Tools / Tricks.

436 Responses to “Tricky People” Are the New Strangers

  • theeducatedmrsd
    February 9, 2012

    Love love love this one! Thank you for posting.

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 9, 2012

      So glad! It’s great info, and Safely Ever After is a great organization.

      • Mommi s
        March 10, 2012

        Does she suggest moms and dads refrain from asking or letting their kids “help”? I often redirect my toddles activities by seeking her assistance. Thanks in advance for any replies.

        • checklistmommy
          March 10, 2012

          Hey there — I don’t think Pattie means to stop using the word “help” with your kids — her point is more that no adult will ever ask a child to “help” do something that is a GROWN-UP job. For instance, “Please help, I lost my puppy!” is not the sort of think an adult asks a child. “Please help pick up your toys” — which is a kid-appropriate job — is an appropriate use of the word “help.” Her larger point is — IF AN ADULT ASKS YOU FOR HELP, KIDDO, YOUR RESPONSE EVERY TIME IS, “I HAVE TO GO ASK MY MOM/DAD FIRST.” Basically — your kid needs to know to never go anywhere or do anything with ANY ADULT WHO ISN’T ON THE PRE-APPROVED LIST without CHECKING WITH MOM AND DAD FIRST.

          • Kat
            September 21, 2012

            very much like what we teach in “Think First & Stay Safe” that comes from the curriculum produced by Child Lures Prevention/Teen Lures Prevention (www.childluresprevention.com) and teaches kids about “child lures” that people with “stormy weather behavior” use (people they know & people they don’t know well; that Sunny people can change & be Stormy) …
            thanks for sharing!

          • Kyle
            September 23, 2012

            Why would we emphasize the importance of teaching kids the correct terms for their genitals and then resort to bizarre code names like “stormy weather behavior”? Even “tricky” people seems like an ambiguous term.

          • Kat
            September 27, 2012

            re: Kyle’s comment about the use of weather terms … Through “Think First & Stay Safe” lessons, we help children from grades K – 6th grade move from concrete concepts (like weather, computers, fishing, etc.–things they already know) to abstract concepts (learning concepts that are often new to them or require them to hold or formulate information in their heads, not with their senses), since children are growing in their ability to think abstractly, which comes much easier for most adults. The weather is part of the first day’s lesson. In the middle of the week, children are taught about their personal boundary, and their right to be safe–that it’s against the law for someone to mess with their private parts. This particular program has been effectively equipping children to be safe from abuse as well as giving courage to those who’ve been abused to go to a Trusted Adult and seek help. We’ve seen/heard both results time and again.
            (pardon me if my comment didn’t get associated with the main blog–couldn’t find a general “reply” link, so I grabbed one that was handy, which may have led to the confusion/mis-association)

          • dash
            January 15, 2013

            actually dogs are friendly to children and if i lost my dog in the neighborhood park first person id ask to call the dogs name out would be my kid brother, poor example

          • Rachel R.
            August 19, 2013

            I never thought of using the term “tricky people,” but I don’t consider it euphemistic or “cutesy.” I think it’s quite literal. The types of adults who would prey on our children are literally attempting to trick them.

      • tina
        October 26, 2012

        I think this whole thing is pretty cool.. I’m a nanny.. so I look for things like this ( worse nightmare is something happening to a kid under my care)..however.. this info might make SOME new parents paranoid ..

    • Elaine
      September 3, 2012

      This was an excellent post! I am sending it to all five of my nieces who each have two children ages 3 to 8. What wonderful commons sense this is! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Amber
      September 15, 2012

      You seriously named you kids Diddy and Gaga?!
      Those poor kids will get teased for the rest of their lives…

      • Carol
        September 18, 2012

        I think it’s a joke. Not their real names.

      • Heather
        September 23, 2012

        A lot of bloggers give their children nicknames so they can refer to them safely while blogging.

      • Jenny
        December 6, 2012

        amber – i’m very sad to see that poking fun at her children’s names – very obviously silly monikers – is all you took from this post.

        it was well written and very informative.
        thank you for posting!

        • Kathy
          April 29, 2013

          Who cares that amber said that. You would be the only one to point it out. Nice knowing what other people aren’t telling you. Anyways, this passage was rather interesting. Thank you for the heads up. But I don’t think you are putting a good name out for the teachers.

  • Jamie
    February 9, 2012

    Love this info too. I took a safety seminar with someone else last year who said the same things and this is a great reminder to continue the conversation with Juju. Thank you!

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 9, 2012

      And thank YOU for the great lunches you keep posting! I am weaning the kids off hot lunch next week, and your Trader Joe’s finds are truly inspiring!

  • Erin
    February 28, 2012

    This is great! Thank you for posting this!

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 29, 2012

      You are so welcome! It is truly wonderful info … Pattie Fitzgerald tweets @safelyeverafter, too.

  • Nicole
    February 29, 2012

    Great article…but what about dads with kids? Are they not safe to approach?

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 29, 2012

      Hi Nicole — Pattie basically said, it’s not that Dads are unsafe in general, but a) why confuse the issue when talking to your kids? and b) MOST OF THE TIME, unfortunately, when you hear these sorts of the stories, it’s not the horrendous things that MOMS did that make it on the news. That said, Mr. Big(Ideas) has a huge, helpful heart — and he would go to the ends of the earth to comfort a lost or frightened child — but I would tell any kid to walk right on by him and look for a Momma, first.

      • Alessandro
        March 10, 2012

        The problem with that reasoning is that statistically mother’s are more likely to abuse their children (by about 10% I believe). Now this isn’t a reason to say to a kid, “Don’t go near moms!” But it is a reason to reconsider this attitude that fathers are going to be more likely to abuse your kid than mothers and therefore shouldn’t be trusted.

        • checklistmommy
          March 10, 2012

          I’d be very interested to see the evidence of that stat … would be worth discussing. Can you point me to it?

          • Alessandro
            March 10, 2012

            Sorry, I posted below, I was going from memory in the previous post from an article in the LA times about…3 years ago I think

          • checklistmommy
            March 11, 2012

            Thanks for the link — yes, it does say mothers are 2x a likely to be responsible for CHILD MALTREATMENT (which is sobering and awful and which I assume correlates to physical/verbal abuse in the home — didn’t read too closely, it’s nearly midnite here). But it ALSO says:

            Perpetrator patterns differ, however, by type of maltreatment. Mothers are not more likely to be the perpetrator when it comes to sexual abuse; fathers are more likely to be reported for this crime.34

            So the point of telling your kids to look for a MOM+KIDS as a safe option in a PUBLIC PLACE does in fact have a higher statistical safety correlation — unlikely someone else’s mom is going to smack you around in the grocery store, or bring you home to do so.

            It’s unlikely most men will lure you out of a store for abuse purposes, either. But, statistically, the person who MIGHT — and like I said, this risk is LOWER than the risk of a grooming situation, but let’s not forget the case of the kid who fought some guy off at Walmart a few weeks back (http://www.ajc.com/news/suspect-in-attempted-wal-1338449.html) — just bring you home, or lure you into their car for nefarious abuse purposes, is more likely to be a man.

            Sorry if this isn’t that coherent — exhausted. But really glad you brought this up. It’s food for thought, this MOM IS WORSE AT HOME / DAD IS WORSE OUT IN THE WORLD dichotomy.

        • Alessandro
          March 10, 2012

          I just double checked my facts

          http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/chapterthree.cfm

          They says twice as likely as fathers. The exact numbers aren’t important though.

          • Alessandro
            March 11, 2012

            It won’t let me reply there but I do feel a need to correct certain things.

            Maltreatment was defined as any type of abuse, neglect, sexual, psychological, or physical.

            We need to be careful in our terminology. Men are more likely to be sexual predators than women. But we aren’t talking about random dudes, we are talking about fathers and mothers.

            More fathers than mothers sexually abuse their children, true. We need to keep three things in mind though.

            1) cases of sexual abuse are rarer than other kinds (9.9%).

            2) Are we talking 1% difference? 10%? 20%?The article doesn’t specify. Keep in mind that it also isn’t including family members, family friends, and strangers. The only information that I could find is that 30% of sexual abuse cases are caused by fathers, brothers, uncles, or cousins. Boys are more likely to be sexually abused by people outside the family than girls and women make up about 14% of sexual abuse in the case of boys. 6% for girls. This is just all to say that we are looking at a relatively small difference of percentage in an already fairly small percentage.

            http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/child-sexual-abuse.aspx

            3) Fathers’ abuse tends to be correlated with substance abuse. I don’t know if you mentioned it and I missed it but someone who is obviously on something should be avoided as well. That in addition with the other reasons given in the article (near the end) make it seem fairly unlikely that an abusive father would abuse someone outside their family.

            This next article shows an important perspective on the dangers of pushing men away that I think is important to consider. It’s late so I don’t imagine you will read it tonight.

            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703779704576073752925629440.html

            The evidence seems to say that if the man is a father, doesn’t know the kid, and isn’t under the influence of any foreign substances that the chance is very small. Generally speaking the smaller you get the bigger the difference needs to be to be statistically significant. (For example, if there are 2 men who abuse and 1 woman then there is a 30% difference but that isn’t saying much because it’s only 1 more) Especially with the margin of error which I imagine is relatively large. So with all this in mind I think it’s silly if not dangerous to not tell a kid to seek out someone who is obviously a father if they are lost or in need of help. And all the reading I’ve done would seem to suggest that couples with kids are probably the safest bet.

            Sorry this is kind of long but I really do believe that pushing men (especially fathers) away, implicitly or explicitly, does more damage then good for the child.

          • checklistmommy
            March 11, 2012

            I think it is important to point out that no one is saying “Dad’s are unsafe — push them away.” And yes, your studies do show that Moms are more unsafe in the home statistically. (Yikes.) But Pattie’s focus — at least in her pre-school presentation, has little if nothing to do with Daddy-danger.

            Pattie’s work — and my take on it — has only to do with WHAT TO TELL YOUR KIDS ABOUT THE TERRIBLY UNLIKELY SITUATION THAT SOMEONE WHO ISN’T THEIR PARENT IS GOING TO HARM THEM. In THAT SITUATION, odds are, MEN ARE LESS SAFE TO YOUR UNSUPERVISED / LOST / CONFUSED / DISORIENTED CHILD.

            But yes, it is truly important to keep talking about abuse in the home, and the fact that Moms and Dads can both be dangerous to their children. And sure, you are probably safe telling your kids to seek out couples with kids, or Dads with kids. But Pattie would probably tell you to tell your children to seek out MOMS+KIDS because of the slight statistical evidence in favor of THAT being your kids safest choice in a NON-HOME SITUATION.

            Thanks for continuing the conversation. It’s been very edifying.

          • MChristina
            August 20, 2012

            I just want to say that all of your statistics are from what has been reported. It’s more likely for a girl to report abuse than a boy, of any form. & someone did comment that boys normally don’t find a woman sexually abusing them as abuse at all. Which seems to be true. So all this men/fathers are more likely to abuse your child then a woman/mother is untrue. It’s purely based upon statistics of information that we have, not all the information that we need. My sister was abused by a woman who was paid to babysit or & two of my other sisters. This woman was very religious & had three children of her own. Yet she still beat the crap out of an innocent 4 year old. Also I find that this post generalizes a lot. My teachers in elementary school & middle school offered to take me to museums & such because of reports I had done, they felt it would be beneficial & fun to learn more about my topic since I had done so well on my reports. Also, I offer to baby sit for free when I know someone needs a break, or alone time with their partner & I would NEVER harm a child in any way. So this woman may have a lot of statistical facts & “know her stuff” but she is very much generalizing. & the only thing I got from this article was to not to trust my child with any adult.

      • Uly
        April 6, 2012

        But talking about just moms IS confusing the issue. What about babysitters or aunts or whatnot? Why not just say “Find a grown-up with children”? Because really, even the worst parent, or babysitter, or whatever is very unlikely to do anything in front of their kids.

        • Tara
          August 24, 2012

          I think a way to go about this situation is to say “Find a family with children if you are ever lost.” Either a mom and kids, or a dad and kids, two dads and kids, two moms and kids… I could go on.

      • Cheri
        August 29, 2012

        This is great advice. I was excited to read this because these are things I have been doing all along. For example, I’ve always realized that if my kids get lost at the mall or where ever, they could likely need an adult person to help. But some male security guy is not who I want them going up to. So I’ve always told them to look for a mom with kids…. that seems safest. I also tell them NOT to go to any men at all… NOT EVEN dads. Just a rule we live by, because majority are men who prey on kids. I also knew that kids can’t remember everything, so I didn’t want to confuse them with naming a bunch of adults that they are safe to go with…. so we have always told them they are ONLY allowed to go with Granny and Grandpa without permission first. This is because they are my folks and would be the ones that would get my kids if I and my husband were in an accident or something. I also use a permanent marker to write my phone # on my kids’ ankles when we are in a congested spot, like an amusement park, so if they panic a little, they will still have a phone number at least. So glad this advice is getting out!!!!! As for Moms are more likely to abuse their kids, that may be, due to mom being with them so often. But overall, kids are safest with going to women, not men, men are the majority of who molest children. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact. Kids should always seek out a mom with kids.

        • JS
          January 28, 2013

          That’s just idiotic and paranoid. Take a Xanax.

          • KC
            February 20, 2013

            Actually, not at all paranoid. My aunt and uncle took my then 8-year-old cousin to an amusement park in California. My aunt is legally blind, so my uncle was helping her and the daughter was in front of them. In the large crowds she slipped out of site and went missing for several hours. The park was shut down letting nobody in or out and police were called to help search for her along with security in the park.
            Had they written a cell phone number on her hand/arm/ankle/etc. she could have asked someone to call her dad. But, she didn’t know his number and was very scared. A mother with children approached her when they saw her crying and took her to security.
            It isn’t paranoid to worry about things like this… Nobody knows how quickly something can happen and your child can be lost.

        • Jami
          May 20, 2013

          I agree with many of your points, I just don’t understand NOT asking a security guard for help. They have to go through many of the background and safety checks as police officers and they would have access to more ways of helping. I’ve taught my son that police officers, firemen, etc. are people who can help if need it.

          • Kristin
            July 25, 2013

            The problems with telling children to look for a police officer or security guard are a.) how often to you see a cop when you’re out shopping at Wal-Mart? Not often. Mothers with children are everywhere, however. And b.) to a small child, any man wearing a uniform could be confused with a police officer. A guy wearing a Public Works or Dunkin Donuts uniform looks official to a 6 year old, but that’s probably not where you want to direct your child to go.

            And there seem to be a lot of comments that are nitpicking, or finding sexism because they’re looking for it. The point is, a woman with children is highly unlikely to snag a small child and haul them to a back corner of the store to molest him or her. And there are typically lots of moms (ok, fine, aunt/grandmother/babysitter/big sister… sigh…) with kids around where a parent would be likely to be with their own child. Saying “Go to a mom with kids if you get lost” makes it easy for your child to know what to do in the bummer of an event that they get lost. This doesn’t need to be difficult.

    • Brian M.
      March 10, 2012

      We have a sexist culture. Women want to be equal with men, but they don’t want to give equal treatment back. It sickens me.

      • checklistmommy
        March 10, 2012

        Not quite sure what exactly you are referencing — would you like to be more specific?

        • gortrixie
          October 30, 2013

          I’m pretty sure he’s referring to the talk that you should choose a mom with kids vs a dad with kids. My husband was a single dad to his son for 6 years before we met 15 years ago, and it’s a steadily growing statistic. Look for a FAMILY with kids will be my advice.

      • Frank
        March 16, 2012

        Brian, look up for state’s sex offender registry for child sex-offenders and let me know how many women are on the list. It’s not that women are asking to be treated differently, it’s that STATISTICALLY speaking, in the slim chances your child is going to be sexually assaulted, it’s going to be a man. This doesn’t mean I assume every man is going to be a sex offender. It means I’m going to assume most sex offenders are going to be men. There is a BIG difference there. I don’t quite understand why you’d get so defensive about that. I don’t feel threatened by commonly known statistics. It’s unfortunate, and there are exceptions to every statistic, but statistically significant findings are valid for a reason.

        • checklistmommy
          March 16, 2012

          Right on, that!

        • Amy
          March 18, 2012

          Thanks for this, Frank. I think it’s important to mention that one in four children in the US will be sexually abused, so, tragically, the chances aren’t so minute.

          • Kris
            March 29, 2012

            1in 4? That’s scary!

          • Sharon
            August 14, 2012

            Unfortunately that 1 in 4 statistics is OLD, the same as back in the 70′s.

            In the early 60′s, when I was only about 4-years-old, I remember going to over to my back door neighbor’s house. Her [high, upstanding church going] father started masturbating in an open bedroom. but still within eye-shot of both his daughter and me, while we watched TV down the hall.

            I innocently asked her WHY and WHAT he was doing!

            She matter-of-factly said, “He does it all the time! It hurts him, and doing that makes him feel better. Just watch the show.”

            I didn’t think to tell my parents, but it turns out that many of my other girl friends were also EXPOSED to his very behavior, but since we were all so young – none of us ever KNEW to TALK about it to our folks or each other, until we were Adults, and this family was then gone from the neighborhood.

            In 1970′s as a teenager, there was a Sunday School President, who touched me inappropriately. I reported this to his superior, but I was asked what I DID to “make” him want to “do” that! I was so taken back by such an accusation, all I could do was cry in front of the person I thought should have helped me. I am sure it was just dropped.

        • aselvarial
          August 14, 2012

          I don’t know if those statistic reflect th truth though. they reflect what is known. It is considered acceptable for a girl to turn in a sexual assault. And most sexual assaults to females are by males. HOWEVER, the same isn’t true for males. Even young boys get the idea that sexual abuse by a female isn’t, in fact, abuse, and therefore not worth reporting. So those statistics only validate an odd bit of unintentional discrimination in our culture. I’d feel better with my son approaching a dad with kids than a mom. Of course, that could just be because mom’s with kids always look stressed out, whereas I rarely see dad’s out with kiddos by themselves.

        • Ace
          August 15, 2012

          Making up numbers for the sake of argument here, but imagine that there is a 3-in-1000 chance that a random male stranger with kids approached by a child would want to harm rather than help that child, but only a 1-in-1000 chance that a similarly random female stranger with kids would want to harm the child. Sure, with these numbers a man would be three-times as likely to be dangerous, but that isn’t really a good reason to condemn or avoid the 997 men that could help a child in need. Does it really matter whether it’s a 997-in-1000 chance of getting help instead of harm from a man or a 999-1000 chance with a woman? Sure, the male is technically three times as likely to be dangerous, but the real statistic that you should pay attention to is that a male is 99.7% safe while a female is 99.9% safe. If a kid needs help, they should look for help wherever they can find it.

          I don’t know what real numbers apply here, but I suspect that the chance of harm from a male stranger with kids is even slimmer than 3-in-1000. And the smaller the chance, the more ludicrous the rule of avoiding males becomes.

          And this type of misguided and fearful instruction does real harm. Here is a story of a lost girl who almost stayed lost because she hid when they heard male voices of rescuers calling out to her: http://www.thewesterlysun.com/news/camper-rescues-missing-child/article_7b5b7102-c2fb-11e1-86b2-001a4bcf887a.html

          And here is a similar story involving a lost by scout who’s “biggest fear was being abducted”: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20148124,00.html

        • David
          August 16, 2012

          Really? Do you feel that way if the statistic involves race? How about sexual orientation? If her advice was to find a white woman with kids (if the statistics showed more black people were molesters than white) would you be fine with that? If a heterosexual male has a 0.0001 percent chance of being a molester and a homosexual male has a 0.0003 percent chance, would you be OK with advice to avoid gay people because they are three times as likely to be molesters?

        • Desaraev
          December 6, 2012

          I noticed in one of the comments above that boys don’t always think being avused is abuse.. Maybe a lot of the women just never get turned in for it but being hit still would be just as terrible predicament as verbal abuse. Also being molested shouldn’t be your only concern, while a mom may not sexually assault a child, you may want to look up kidnapping stats.

    • Lisa
      March 16, 2012

      I think, especially with regard to men, that there’s a difference between a person who approaches your child and a person to whom your child goes for help.

      I would guess that the chance that any random man your child goes to for help will be a predator is much smaller than the man who asks your child for help to find his puppy.

      Also, one thing I try to impress upon my daughter is that these rules also go for “big kids.” Meaning that if a big kid asks you for help, the same rules apply — say, “My mom will help you” and find me or another adult and tell them.

      • checklistmommy
        March 16, 2012

        Agreed!

  • Jocelyn
    February 29, 2012

    I love this! So true how we’ve demonized all strangers… To a fault. I had a discussion with my daughter about this just a few days ago and I kept adding on exceptions to the list of strangers not to talk to. “Don’t talk to any strangers! Except employees in uniform… But don’t go anywhere with them outside of the store. Oh, and you can talk with teachers. Oh and other parents are okay, but don’t go with them if the…” Man, the list just went on. Not sure why I didn’t think of this idea of “Tricky” people. Touché.

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 29, 2012

      I have spent most of the last 5+ years smacking myself on the head and thinking the same thing … why DIDN’T I think of that? You know why? Mommy-brain! It’s a real thing! Newsweek said so!

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/02/19/the-pregnant-brain-how-mothers-think-differently.html

    • josh
      September 2, 2012

      you may want to take the employees with uniforms off that list. at a walmart here just a bout a year ago, there was an employee who exposed himself to a couple of younger girls in the toy department. just thought i would put that out there.

      • Jami
        May 20, 2013

        When I tell my son about “people in uniform” he knows that I mean police officers or firemen…..not just random Wal-Mart workers and my son is only 4.

    • Whozat
      March 22, 2013

      I totally agree! It’s not just that ” They might need to talk to a stranger one day” but that we all have to talk to strangers every day!

  • Camp mama
    February 29, 2012

    Hay
    Thanks for this article all I have 2 say is this. I do not have kid but I am a volunteer camp counselor.
    I love kids and I not some sick pp I never ever hurt a child! I have offed free child care 4 pp b4 but no one took it. I do sit 4 someone 4 free sometimes. Because we close fam friends n I friends with the kids she 12yr now. If they don’t pay me then they pay me n food n things we do. And they are not cheep also I try 2 build up a friendship with my campers. Most child abuse is in the home! It scars me when ever I sitting for the 12yr if the phone rings or the door bell she just answer it. What do I do 2 get her safe.

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 29, 2012

      Hi Camp Mama –

      I would teach the 12 year old you sit for that she should never GO ANYWHERE with an adult who hasn’t been pre-approved (as you seem to be) by her parents without FIRST getting their permission. She should never OFFER HELP to any adult without checking with her parents first. And NO ADULT should ever ask her to KEEP A SECRET from her parents.

      SafelyEverAfter.com doesn’t teach that ALL PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS TO YOUR KIDS — just that keeping in mind basic rules of safety, while they may paint a VERY BROAD BRUSH, keeps your kids SAFEST.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Kristi
        June 19, 2012

        I think her point is that sometimes people DO offer free babysitting just to be nice. I offered to my son’s kindergarten teacher just recently. Granted, I am another teacher, and mother of 5, and she sees my kids regularly. She was talking about how she had to have babysitters over 18 because she’s a foster parent. Also, some sitters volunteer because they know if they do a good job, they could end up with a regular paying gig. Of course, free babysitting should be looked at a tad more closely than paid sitting.

        Also, being a teacher, I can see how some (particularly younger, brighter, more hopeful) teachers might genuinely want to take a kid to a Monet exhibit. We want to positively influence kids, to see their eyes light up when they learn something new. You didn’t think we chose this job for the pay, did you? ;) That said, I would still say that you should respond to that kind of offer with, “Wow, really? Child and I would love to go to that exhibit with you, but I’m not ready to send him without me.” A teacher who is truly trying to be helpful would not have a problem with the parent coming along too (but parent should pay at least for herself, and most likely the child too).

        • MtnGirl7
          August 17, 2012

          I agree that you can’t say do not trust any adult who does not have a child. I’m in that same boat and also a teacher and sort of take offense to generalizing. Also, I’ve offered to babysit alot – that does not make me a “tricky” person – it means that I have friends that I care about and know that they’d like to leave their kids with someone who is trustworthy and within their budget!

          Granted, we should all be on our toes and teach our kids to be careful, but unless you are constantly with your kid and live in a bubble, then they need to learn to be wary and communicate with their parents – and what about parents who abuse their children?! Teacher should teach kids about tricky people including their own parents…..

          I think you have some useful points, but be cautious about generalizing.

          • Monkey
            August 19, 2012

            I hope you don’t teach English. “Alot” is not a word :(

          • checklistmommy
            August 20, 2012

            Maybe not … but as a former college teacher with advanced degrees who continually posts blogs rife with typos, I am fairly forgiving of typos in comments. Begging everybody to please play a little nicer here — let’s go after the content of the ideas presented, not the presenters themselves. Life is too short, right?

          • Monica
            September 1, 2012

            Actually, I’m an linguist, an English prof. and getting my PHD in language development and “Alot” is very often considered one word. Language changes with time and much in the same way “Goodbye” comes from “God bless you” or how “Someone” has become one word, “Alot” is perfectly acceptable in most circles.
            If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  • Kate Murphy
    February 29, 2012

    This is so helpful! My oldest son is only three, and I’ve already found it difficult to explain the whole “stranger danger” concept (after all, don’t we talk to strangers all the time at the grocery store?). I’m so glad you shared this! Thank you!

  • Murasaki
    February 29, 2012

    Excellent! Its also really important to teach children the correct words for genitalia as it can be a real turn off for creeps. Doodies and wee-wees keep it fun and cute whereas a child that uses the word vulva or scrotum seems much more confident and less of an easy target. They will also be able to have their testimony used in court. Generally speaking doodies and wee-wees are not acceptable in court as they are not real words.
    Women are safer for children to approach. Sad but true, a very high proportion of child abusers are men. If that offends men, too bad. Maybe they can start to call out other men more on their use of materials which sexualise violence and children.

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 29, 2012

      Well said and oh-so-true!

    • Sarah
      March 12, 2012

      Interesting point though, on one of those “What would you do” shows, they had a young girl in a park, alone and had a creepy man approach her and ask her to help find his dog, the point was to watch the other parents in the park. The dads were vastly more likely to walk up to the guy and tell him to get lost than a mom with her kids. I get the general idea that usually, women can be more safe, but there are a lot of crazy women, just as bad as men, heck, generally, women with mental health issues are MORE violent and aggressive than their male counterparts. I think it is hard all around to figure out who is safe.

      • checklistmommy
        March 12, 2012

        Yeah, I saw something like that, too. A great reminder that IT TAKES A VILLAGE and we all need to be vigilant for the children around us!

      • shotaiken
        August 16, 2012

        Way to disparage those with mental health issues. Wow.

        No one, of any gender, is automatically violent because they have mental health issues. There are many with mental health issues who are pacifists.

        • Monica
          September 1, 2012

          Jeeze, the poster was not saying that every person with a mental health issue is violent! Good grief, this is exhausting to read through these comments.
          We are talking of STATISTICS amongst those who abuse children. Saying that bank robbers statistically have blonde hair DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVERY BLONDE PERSON IS A BANK ROBBER.
          Take a chill pill, this is just a post trying to help.

      • DDS
        July 25, 2013

        By these standards, I could look a little shady. No kids of my own, and I have longstanding relationships with a number of families — including children — especially in our church. When they come early and the room isn’t quite ready, I ask them to help with tasks like setting up chairs. I’ve been known to bring small gifts for all the kids on special occasions, and even took a couple of sisters out to the McDonald’s playland for a special afternoon as a reward for something noteworthy they had accomplished. I do keep a closer eye on kids who are struggling or seem to lack a significant support system, especially if the parents don’t seem to be paying attention.

        As the kids have grown into their teen (and even young adult! oh my…) years, I’ve been a bit of a mentor to some as they have navigated authority issues, friendships, budding attractions, conflicts, growing independence, etc. I don’t ask THEM to keep secrets, but am clear that I share almost nothing about those conversations with their parents unless the teen gives permission to do so.

        I am in a position and relationship of trust with these kids and with their parents, and I am very intentional about protecting them from abuse. I might look a little shady according to the descriptions listed, but I am one of the safe people.

        To other safe people who might occasionally be viewed with suspicion for ambiguous behaviors — we can maintain trust with kids and parents by being alert and intentional in the details. For example, I am intentional about encouraging kids to talk with their parents, and about helping parents learn to listen well so the kids will indeed talk. My “bathing suit rule” of touch is about as conservative as the swimgear from a hundred years ago. I am careful to honor individual (kids and adults!) physical boundaries, and coach others to do the same. I go the extra mile to make sure kids check in with their parents so the parents know who they are with and where they are, especially if they are under my care. I generally avoid putting myself in situations of being alone with a child, and move to public places when needed. I let teens and parents know that while I won’t share confidential conversation content with the parents in any detail unless morally/legally required to do so, I do encourage them to talk to each other, and the teens have my blessing to share with their parents anything I’ve said.

        To the parents who read the “tricky people” description and worry that maybe the folks who seem to genuinely love your kids might actually be predators instead — it is true. Our world has such people, and it is good that you’re paying attention. I respect and honor your diligence in caring for your children, and will continue to go out of my way to help folks like you to know that your kids are safe with folks like me. Please know that a bunch of us who seem to genuinely love your kids really DO love your kids. As you evaluate your kids’ situations and relationships, consider and communicate what will help you know they are safe with us.

        There are risks of children being abused by adults who should be protecting them. There are risks also of children growing up without a strong, supportive community which includes a variety of caring adults. Let’s be attentive to both realities.

    • Stephanie
      August 16, 2012

      Wow! What a fantastic article this is! I found the blog through pinterest and am hooked.

      I completely agree with teaching your children the proper words for body parts. I know some people find it offensive to hear a child say the word “penis” or “vagina” but so what! As I always say, “What’s the difference in saying ‘penis’ or ‘arm’, they’re both just body parts.”

      This article (as well as all the comments) has been a wonderful and educational read for me. As a mother of 2 small boys (4 and 6), I have taught them to stay where they are when lost and ask a mommy for help, but to never go with anyone. If another mom in the store sees your child alone and your child won’t go with them (say to the customer service desk or something to find help), she’ll probably just stay with your child until you find him/her or enlist the help of another adult nearby.

  • NOH
    March 1, 2012

    Reblogged this on Memoirs Of A Modern Housewife.

  • NOH
    March 1, 2012

    We started talking to our five year old about “stranger danger” a few weeks ago…she’s a smart cookie and kept asking, “what about this person ….and that person?” Finally we said, just always try to find a mama with kids or a woman. Thanks for this post as it confirms what we are teaching and gives us more to work with.

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 1, 2012

      So glad it helps. I am a sucker for anyone who can give me clear, logical instructions about illogical, incomprehensible things!

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 1, 2012

      I am a sucker for anyone who can give me clear, logical instructions for handling illogical, incomprehensible things. Glad this will be a help to you and your daughter. (And I feel for you — smart 5 yos are a blessing and a curse!)

  • Thank you so much for posting and sharing this info! I have been finding it harder and harder to talk to my kiddos about stranger-danger because they are asking more and more very good questions and I sometimes find myself having to tell them I’ll get back to them with an answer {and then I go and search for or come up with an age appropriate explanations!!!}. I am definitely going to check out Patti’s info!

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 1, 2012

      You’ll be so impressed by her work — glad to help you find her!

  • shane
    March 1, 2012

    someone should protect your kids from you for the way that you are naming them. What were you thinking? Diddy and Gaga? I really hope that is just your baby names for them. If that is their real names then they are in for a traumatic childhood, and going to be teased unmercifully

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 1, 2012

      Shane, all their names have been changed to protect their innocence — promise!

  • jenkbg
    March 2, 2012

    I do not have any children, but have always said that I would teach my kids these things, it’s good to see some good sense written here. I’ve sworn that I would always use correct names for anatomy, etc. Great post, Thank You!

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 2, 2012

      Thanks for reading (and a double thanks, since you don’t have kids!)!

  • Love this so much! Thanks for posting – shared this on the Raising Natural Kids Facebook page so that more people can use your words of wisdom! http://www.raisingnaturalkids.com
    Dawn

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 4, 2012

      So glad this resonates for you — and thank you TRULY for the FB share. I’ll go over there and like the page so I can share your feeds … I know you have tons of your own wisdom to share!

  • Hijabi
    March 4, 2012

    Excellent! Thanks!

  • Jamie Hinze Schultz
    March 4, 2012

    This is much better than the “Stranger-Danger” way of teaching our kids. They are smart little people who are sadly more vulnerable than adults. I think this is an excellent way to respect their intelligence while keeping them safe.
    Thank you SO much for sharing!

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 4, 2012

      I totally agree — so smart we have had to start spelling over their heads (and my oldest is only 5)! Thanks for reading.

  • Josh Mcdonald
    March 5, 2012

    did you name your daughter after P. Diddy? weird…

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 5, 2012

      No — our second daughter nick-named her big sis that, and we sort of spiraled into pet names from there.

  • Kari
    March 5, 2012

    Honestly, I can’t have children and I teach young children. Some children I have developed close relationships with their parents and would offer to babysit their child for free. I am not a bad person or a weirdo! Just good hearted.

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 5, 2012

      Hi Kari — I’m sure you’re not a weirdo. (Well, you probably are SORT of weird, as are we all ;)) These are at best general guidelines to keep parents from trusting TOO much, or not questioning ENOUGH — definitely not be-all-end-all-every-situation solutions.

      • Kayla
        March 10, 2012

        I wanted to reply to Kari, and several others I’ve noticed who got defensive from one little bit in the article above:

        This article is about protecting children and teaching both mommies and children how to find out who they can trust. I feel that you’ve entirely missed the point.

        Instead of understanding that you would have to respect children and parent’s need for protection in the broad brush being used here, you have opted for defensiveness about your own nature.

        That, in my eyes, makes you suspicious. Sorry but it’s true.

        I, too, was a family friend to parents and their kids, and would babysit for free. That was only for very few people I cared about. I would never broadcast that and get defensive about doing that!! I’d pass the info on to the parents and say, “Hey, this might be helpful!” without thinking of myself.

        That would make you someone who cared about children in a non-pervy way, rather than worrying about what that made you look like.

        Pardon me, but that got entirely too long! :) Sorry for the rambling. Had a hard time putting into words how I felt about people being defensive!

        Hope it made sense,
        Kayla

        • Kat
          March 16, 2012

          Thank you Kayla! I couldn’t agree more! We have a family friend who babysits my kids for free all.the.time. and a few other folks who I’d trust if in a pickle and needed someone to watch my kids for a bit. But if other random people were like, let me watch your kid! I’d be a little suspicious. This article isn’t about not letting anyone near your kids again (sorry kids, grandma can’t babysit you anymore because an article on the internet said people who babysit you for free are perverts!) it’s about things to keep in mind to make you say, “hmm?” The bottom line is trust your instincts!

          • checklistmommy
            March 16, 2012

            Exactly!

          • shotaiken
            August 16, 2012

            Some people get defensive because unfounded suspicions have already negatively impacted our lives. I avoid children like the plague now. Rumors and gossip can destroy lives, so I don’t want to leave a door open for such rumor or gossip.

          • Patricia
            November 23, 2012

            Ha! Sorry to burst your bubble, but a family friend who was always available to watch our daughter molested her for 4 years before she told us! Please understand people that the people who do this are nearly always a family friend or relative. Your child is not safe just because you “know” the person! We had taught our daughter from the age of 2 that if anyone ever touched her “there” she needed to tell us. When she finally broke down and let me know one day, she said that he never touched her. He always had her touch him! These people are crafty! There were times we were in the same house all together and he would pull her aside in the kitchen, etc… Please be careful! When your family goes thru this it will change your life and your child’s life forever! Only 16% of children tell. Keep communication open with your children!

        • Jennie
          October 20, 2012

          I know this is fairly old but I wanted to respond. I agree that many people really didn’t get the idea of the post. I am not sure they are suspicious. Maybe they are. Being that I have been around many kids my entire life I would say that most of the info given was better than a lot that I have heard previosly. I feel like generations of parents are getting a lot more effective and smart about education their kids about these dangers, mainly do to the information that is becoming available to them. I don’t think that progress came from people getting overly sensitive/defensive or from trying to find false reasoning in the use of statistics. We should keep in mind 1) the point is to keep kids safe and 2) everyone wants to do that in the most effective and realistic way possible. I think when we do that, solutions may come a bit easier. Thanks for saying it, Kayla!

          • Jennie
            October 20, 2012

            previously*
            due* to

        • Amanda
          November 2, 2012

          I know this is old but I think it’s entirely inappropriate and unfounded for you to imply that those taking issue with such a ridiculous generalization – which is understandable – are “suspicious”. You are essentially saying “YOU are the dangerous one. You can’t be trusted based on how you reacted to this statement.” That’s absurd, insensitive, and reeks of “mob mentality” and paranoia.

          I understand the point being made with such a statement but that doesn’t negate the fact that it breeds paranoia. You obviously wouldn’t agree to a stranger’s offer to babysit your kids for free and I don’t know anyone who would take a stranger up on such an offer, but statistically, it will be someone they know who abuses them. Therefore, going off statistics like Pattie says she is, a close friend/family member who offers to babysit for free is automatically a predator now? People DO offer to babysit for free with no ill intentions so in my opinion, that “rule” would have been best left out. Just trust your instincts and common sense on this issue. Those two things are as valuable as any sweeping generalization made here.

          • Amanda
            November 2, 2012

            And after reading more of the comments here, obviously many people DO offer to babysit for free. Not sure where she’s getting her “nobody offers to babysit for free” rule.

          • Desaraev
            December 6, 2012

            Well put amanda this article, while over generalizing relatively good sense advise, does have a few points that if backed by more statistics, reasoning, logic and option a/b scenarios may have caused less of an out roar but our society is very pc so having an opinion, giving good advice or adding/commenting/trolling on that advice is also going to to lead to more crazy comments. I saw this article from a friend who posted it on facebook and while its not relevant to me now I wouldn’t mind having kids someday, plus I have neices, nephews and good friends with kids so both the article and comments spiked my interest and I don’t normally even bother to read blog comments. Bravo to the blogger for putting herself out there and handling some of these tough replies (including some of mine) with grace. Just remember it’s when no one cares enough to bother that you’re probably not doing anything worth while but paving the way for the future. God bless

    • Karen
      October 13, 2012

      I am also childless and I’m single and I have offered and will offer to babysit the children of friends. I have not ever, no will I abuse a child. I do understand that if you make the rules about who to approach too complex for a child it won’t work but honestly, labeling everyone who offers to spend time with a child as a villain is shortsighted and just wrong. I doubt you would walk comfortably if the shoe was on the other foot. This is a serious topic and making everyone who didn’t procreate seem sinister just doesn’t do justice to the situation.

      • Meagan
        October 16, 2012

        (This is so long, but I took a good chunk out of study time to write it. I appreciate your patience in advance)

        I think you are missing some important points. 1) This article is about communicating to a LIMITED human being about self protection. You’re gonna have to be broad until they can process bigger things. That is part of communicating with children. Sometimes you have to be general for it to be remembered. 2) The scary side about this issue is even with the best information, these sickening things STILL HAPPEN. If I was in your position, in your shoes as you say, I would be upset no doubt. But not at the group of people seeking to actively defend themselves from “tricky” people. Because even if I believe wholeheartedly that you will not abuse a child (which I do), we live in a world that have “tricky” people who will portray themselves to be just like you: sincere, well-meaning, helpful. I would be outraged at the wolves who have tarnished my kindness and prompt moms to inform their kids of these tactics.

        As for myself, I get weird looks from moms sometimes when I smile at their child, and I’m a 23 year-old female dental student. But I get it. As the oldest of four girls, I believe I can relate to the responsibility of the protection of kids. I’m not offended because I know if I was in their shoes, I would rather err on the side of a weird look; or taking the time and effort to look into a person interested in spending time with my child. I would extend my umbrella of protection as far as it would go. And that includes teaching my child to be aware.

        My Mom taught me to be a aware which has elicited at this age a certain kind of behavior: I almost never go anywhere alone, I check under cars/backseats, I carry mace, I double check locked doors,… And finally here is my point that I think might be missed. I can relate to being on the OTHER side of this conversation, a viewpoint that may not have a voice on this page yet: 3) I am the grown-up child of a mom who informed her little girl of “tricky” people. I can now understand these concepts more abstractly (from point #1), and I am not angry or upset about the things I have been taught. I am beyond thankful that my Mother gave me tools I needed as a child to protect myself. Today I am an alert young woman who has avoided abusive people thus far. I cannot say that my safety from harm has been solely based on awareness (Remember point #2) but naivety and innocence will not protect you. My Mom used to say that in this world there is evil that is actively searching for you and you MUST be PROACTIVE against it, because by being passive or by ignoring it, you will make yourself vulnerable.

        Thank you for addressing this topic @checklistmommy

        • checklistmommy
          October 16, 2012

          Meagan, I think I love you. What an incredibly well-written and well-put comment. Thank you, truly. All best, Sarah.

  • Lori Ann
    March 5, 2012

    Have you read “Protecting the Gift”? It’s a lot of this same information with a ton of specific examples for all different age groups. I felt the same way you said, relieved instead of scared that I had tools to help my daughter and am not helpless in protecting her from abuse.

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 5, 2012

      Hi Lori Ann — I’ve had a lot of people recommend that book to me over the years. I’ve tended not to pick it up because the title just makes me a little icky (it sounds all Carrie Fisher “Surrender the Pink”-ish to my ears). I like Pattie because she’s just snarky enough that she speaks to my totally irreverent sense of EVERYTHING. But still, yes — I hear it’s great info.

      • Rachel Fox
        June 20, 2012

        I’m pretty sure this is a follow up to a great book I read called “the gift of fear” about how trusting your instincts and not getting onto the elevator with a vaguely creepy-seeming guy is a way better way to stay safe than taking a jiujitsu class. This second book could prob have a better title, but that first book was all about how you subconsciously process tiny important bits of info about things that seem out of place and could be dangerous and to trust your gut.

        • Danielle @ Analytical Mom
          September 1, 2012

          Yes! The Gift of Fear (written by a former FBI-type guy) is absolutely excellent (a grown-up read, not a kids’ book). I would recommend it for every woman to read, from high-school on up, and I would highly recommend Protecting the Gift too. Gavin de Becker is the author.

  • Carla @ All of Me Now
    March 6, 2012

    What a fantastic post! I was raised on stranger danger and have done a lot of the things you mention that don’t really help. Definitely going to use some of your wonderful suggestions and also check out Safely Ever After. Thanks so much!

  • mzvanessa
    March 6, 2012

    I always hated the whole ‘teach your kids strangers are bad’ thought process. Strangers are bad, but hey go to school.. where a stranger teaches you. Get on a bus where the driver is a stranger. .. wait a second. What are we teaching them again?
    Not just that, a lot of cases where children are harmed or taken happen by people THEY KNOW. Scary statistics, but true ones.

    I choose instead to teach my children that they are allowed to talk to people, but they are not allowed to go anywhere with anyone without getting the ok from mom or dad first. This includes family members and people we see all the time.
    If the neighbour has a littler of puppies can they go see the puppies?? Sure, as long as they come and get mom and dad first. If someone asks them to help them find a lost (child, animal, toy..etc) can they help? Of course. As long as they get mom or dad.. and then we will help too.
    Can their uncle take them to the store? Yes he can, but we need to know where they are, so they need to come and let us know where they’re going and with who first.

    It’s much easier to have them let us know who, what and where then to teach them to be afraid of their surroundings.

    I loved this article. Thank you for sharing it!

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 6, 2012

      Thank you! And thanks for passing it on.

    • aselvarial
      August 14, 2012

      I too have never understood the “stranger danger” thing when statistically, children are most often harmed by those they know, not by random strangers. So you teach them to be pointlessly paranoid of strangers. Some of the coolest ppl I’ve ever met were once “strangers”.

    • Desaraev
      December 6, 2012

      Taken I think is the scariest and most sobering movie I’ve seen. After my church did an out reach to rescue women from human trafficking. You are the least safe in your own neighorhood. Most people get kidknapped from their own yards or nearby work/grocery/school parking lots. Maybe that makes me paranoid or maybe safe. By the way there are similar stats for traffic accidents and this is because people let their guards down, become unaware easy targets by not paying attention to their surroundings. That’s my worse nightmare. My best friends friend in Nola recently was robbed driving near her house. They held a gun to her and wouldn’t let her get her puppy out of the front seat and drove off with her car. If you knew me or these girls you’d understand at this stage in our lives our little dogs are family. They are friends and our kids. Just be safe.

  • mzvanessa
    March 6, 2012

    Reblogged this on Cherised Chaos and commented:
    I love this article.

    Like i said in a comment to the article, I choose to teach my children that they are allowed to talk to people, but they are not allowed to go anywhere with anyone without getting the ok from mom or dad first. This includes family members and people we see all the time.
    It’s much easier to have them let us know who, what and where then to teach them to be afraid of their surroundings.

    And teaching your kids proper body part names? So important. The article is right, the first time one of my kids calls their body parts a monkey doodle or something that isn’t proper I’m going to pause and go.. wait. where’d you hear that?!

    Bottom line, not all sickos are strangers, not all strangers are sickos. Don’t teach your kids to be afraid of the world, teach them to be mindful of people making them feel uncomfortable. Watch your kids. Know who they’re with.

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 6, 2012

      Thank you so much for the re-post! I’ll wander over in your direction later today.

      • mzvanessa
        March 6, 2012

        I don’t have a lot over there, but i think this needed to be out there :)

        I do have a small issue though, teaching kids that other parents are safe doesn’t always work. Maybe it’s because of where i live, but there are some really questionable parents around here.I don’t teach my kids that every parent or person with a child is ‘safe’ Parents can be abusive or predators too.
        in malls my children need to look for clerks, security guards or people in uniforms.

  • Sarah
    March 8, 2012

    Be suspicious of teachers who tell you your kid is so special they want to offer him more one-on-one time, or special outings. That teacher who says your kid is into Monet, he wants to take him to a museum next weekend? Say thanks, and take your kid to go see the exhibit yourself.

    This makes me crazy – let’s not lump teachers in with the molesters please. Like any other profession – demographically there will be some awful people in this group but being a teacher has nothing to do with it.

    • checklistmommy
      March 8, 2012

      Sarah — I agree. This isn’t meant to be a stereotype about teachers (or any profession) in general — more a statement about being aware of PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES, and being wary of professionals who seem to want to step OUTSIDE of those bounds. Thanks for commenting and continuing the conversation.

      • K
        March 13, 2012

        Sarah, she didn’t say “be suspicious of all teachers” — she said to be suspicious of teachers who want to hang out with your kid alone off of school property, which is absolutely not the typical teacher-student relationship. I was a straight-A student and total teacher’s pet, but I can assure you my teachers NEVER asked me to go to a museum or hang out one-on-one.

        Can a teacher ask for one-on-one time with good intentions? Sure, sometimes. But it certainly falls outside the normal teacher-student relationship, and I think parents have every right to be suspicious. Better to raise a red flag than to overlook something sketchy because you’re so worried about being PC.

        I don’t understand why so many commenters seem hellbent on nitpicking every tip rather than acknowledging that, yes, certain things are not typical social behavior and when something raises a red flag, it’s okay to trust your mommy intuition and investigate further. (And teach your kids that ANYTHING they do with another adult requires your permission.) This is excellent advice — better, IMO, than telling kids, “Be nice to all adults everywhere because you never want to offend anyone, ever!”

  • Aliza Worthington
    March 10, 2012

    Such an amazing post – thank you so much. My youngest is now 8, but I told similar things to all of them when they were younger:
    - if lost, find a mom with kids
    - no adult should ask/tell you to keep a secret
    - trust their gut – if they feel like they’re in danger with an adult, all bets are off and they can yell, scream, knock something off a shelf, whatever they need to do to get someone’s attention.

    Also, please read “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin DeBecker. Had very much the same effect on me that Patti had on you, but his advice and scenarios take you all the way up to the teenage years/recognizing abuse in relationships sort of thing. You won’t be sorry.

    Thanks again for this amazing post. Reposting.

    • checklistmommy
      March 10, 2012

      Thank you for the repost — and alright, I guess enough of you have twisted my arm and I’m going to have to go get DeBecker’s book!

  • Jayneen Sanders
    March 10, 2012

    This book is very relevant to your topic.
    Cheers
    Jayneen

    My name is Jayneen (Jay) Sanders and I am an Australian author, teacher and mother of three daughters.
    I have written a children’s book called ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’. It is beautifully illustrated and sensitively broaches the subject of keeping our children safe from sexual interference. Through story we can discuss difficult topics. This book was written to help parents, carers, health professionals and teachers broach the subject in a non-threatening way.
    Even though I am a successful children’s author and in the publishing industry, the trade publishers I approached told me it was too ‘educational’ for them to publish!!
    So my family and I decided to do publish it ourselves as we feel so passionately about this subject.
    My bio is also on the website.
    For more info about the book, testimonials and sample pages the website is:
    http://www.somesecrets.info

    Discussion question are featured in the back of the book to facilitate discussion.

    I believe this is an important book, one of great value to both parents and professionals. Age range: 3 to 12 years.
    If you deem this a suitable resource, we would be most appreciative of you putting details/review on your website, newsletter or on Facebook as we also market this book ourselves.
    Please feel free to email me with any questions. This book is now also available from the ibook store.

    Many thanks for your time
    Jay Sanders
    Book’s Blurb

    Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ is a beautifully illustrated picture book that sensitively broaches the subject of keeping our children safe from sexual interference. We teach our children road safety and water safety but how do we teach our children essential skills in self-protection? Through story we can discuss difficult topics. This book was written to help parents and teachers broach the subject in a non-threatening way. It is an important book and one that all children need to hear. Forewarned is forearmed and if a situation like the one Sir Alfred encountered in the story were to happen to a child, they could draw on what they have learned and speak up!

  • Renata Stickwood
    March 10, 2012

    Fantastic post! Thanks for the very useful information.

    • checklistmommy
      March 10, 2012

      So glad you found it helpful!

  • Jennifer
    March 12, 2012

    Love it! I have struggled with the word “strangers” with my kids, now 6 and 3. Many people talk to them in passing. You know, in the store or on the playground, but often with me there. It’s hard to teach them the difference between when you are around and when you’re not!

    This weekend, we were at a parade and I wasn’t sure what to say about getting lost. In a store, I tell them to find someone with a uniform shirt that works there. I love the idea of finding someone (and I would not specify moms – our neighbor is a SAHD and one of the best there is!) with kids. I will from now on, encourage them to find some kids! :)

    • Desaraev
      December 6, 2012

      My parents always had us pick adopt whenever we went anywhere big and if we got separated we met there. I still do this with my friends because cell phones can die. My mom also had a very loud distinctive “it’s time to go whistle”

  • Jessica
    March 14, 2012

    Found you via Aspiring Mum link….thank you for sharing, I have always told my children about stranger danger but this has made me think and change the word “stranger” – thank you once again.

    • checklistmommy
      March 14, 2012

      Thanks for reading!

  • Debra
    March 15, 2012

    Thank you for your sharing your thoughts and resources! This is a nice additive to a great book I have read called “Protecting the Gift; Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)” by Gavin de Becker.

    • checklistmommy
      March 15, 2012

      Lots of people seem to love that book. I’m going to have to pick it up!

  • Kat
    March 16, 2012

    I have also taught my daughter (and will teach my son when he’s old enough) who the trusted people in her life are. These are her aunts and uncles. Her uncle can take her to the bathroom. Her aunt can play with her in the pool. Any one who isn’t on the short list of aunts and uncles, come check with mom or dad first!

    • checklistmommy
      March 16, 2012

      Great! That is a perfect thing to teach: “Come get us first!” That really is probably the one and only and best rule there is!

    • Kathy
      August 13, 2012

      I’m not trying to be an alarmist, and I’m sure you trust your brother with all your heart, BUT… I was personally impacted by two situations where the perpetrator was the uncle (and of course no one in the family would have ever in a million years suspected it, nor did some of them ever truly “accept” it even once it was out! >:(). I’m not saying to treat your brother with suspicion, but perhaps it would be better practice for your daughter to be told to always look for a female to take her to the bathroom, rather a male (uncle or not).
      I’m sorry, I just had to say something because when you said uncle it raised a huge red flag for me… but I am certainly not intnding to offend you in any way.

      • aimee
        October 13, 2012

        Ditto on the uncle comments!

        • Desaraev
          December 6, 2012

          I’d trust my dad and brothers implicitly.

  • Marcus
    March 16, 2012

    I love how the article pretends to be gender neutral, with the basic advice that it is tricky *people* one needs to watch for, but every time it provides examples of tricky people, it uses male pronouns, and its ultimate advice on what is the safest bet is a Mom with kids. Not an adult with kids. A Mom with kids.

    The advice would carry more weight if it dropped the gender bias.

    The reality is that 99.99% of the adults your child will meet will be perfectly safe, whether they are male or female. Kids are about six times more likely to be abducted by their OWN PARENTS as part of a custody dispute than they are to be abducted by someone they don’t know. Virtually every negative thing that can happen to a child, from neglect to murder to abduction to molestation is vastly more likely to be perpetrated by someone they know, not a stranger.

    • checklistmommy
      March 16, 2012

      Agreed — odds are low that people unknown to your children will do them harm. Still, people worry, and the worst does sometimes happen, and teaching your kids to trust their gut and make safe(r) choices is better than not, in my opinion.

  • Kathy Bramley
    March 18, 2012

    The awareness of abuse – and conversations about who is likely to be an abuser – in general society with a lot of different focuses which likely we can quickly think of has raised anxiety levels around this both as a sense of being in danger or not and being potentially dangerous or not; often vulnerable and atypical people are suspected of being like paedophiles and yes sometimes are; but quite often abusers appear very normal! And percentage-wise vulnerable people who in experience I know reach out or feel socially comfortable perhaps in odd ways are far more likely to be purely *victims* of abuse! I would agree people let their guard down when they shouldn’t but perhaps we have to be a little careful of our characterizations – perhaps include a bit more qualifying detail and contextualising? Is it about spotting a potential abuser or general boundaries that express sensible layers of trust/risk ‘just in case’? Idealistically it’s the latter and certainly not shutting the door on neurodiverse people who have odd ways of reaching out? The idea about words to keep an eye on and possible strategies to minimise risk are good! The trouble is that this article in the post-seminar swirl of the no-nonsense approach of Patti Fitzgerald and in a list-writer perspective (checklists don’t reduce anxiety for everybody; partcularly in this context) it appears we find vulnerable and atypical people appear broadly stigmatised and invalidated; *nobody* does this or that! In fact often vulnerable or atypical people who appear child-like in some ways or who enjoy the company of youngsters have been bullied all their lives and struggle with peer relationships and feel more comfortable with children at a party than the discussions in the house – or flit; a person not in with grown ups could just not like gossipy typical party topics of conversation since it could appear inethical/irreligious or it could be triggering or tricky itself; they could be experiencing depression or family break-up anxiety disorders aspergers syndrome? Coping strategies for many struggling people (re the song ‘Have you seen her?’) involve focussing on the energy of young people or in the cosiness of families that may be open to them and it isn’t always a sign of dodginess though I would say it’s always sensible to exercise vilgilance and give kids confidence in their and your boundaries! Boy I hope I do! http://www.ocdla.com/postpartum-ocd.html I have obsessional and borderline taits and ASD traits and I have a young disabled child with ABI (ASD traits) and lots of friends with such. I wanted here to add a thoughtful balance to explain negative thoughts expressed under here in a way that could be constructive and useful! To go into another bit of detail as part of that occasionally psychotic depression contains a fear of being abusive; certainly OCD especially post-partum triggered OCD often includes fear of abusing children and I have experienced this. I actually called social services! I have had a tricky seven years since our first child was born. I have had therapy and try to write this response with the old rational-compassionate head on! The wellness and the therapists and support workers hard work (quite a lot of taxpayer cash) rests in balance on triggers like this; but you are dealing with your own anxieties in a sensible way that fits you! It’s hard to balance these issues without being stigmatizing getting lost in wet equivocation! Although we already use basic-English children’s words for genitals (‘willy’ and ‘balls’ and ‘folds’ with ‘wee hole’ ‘baby hole’; and ‘poo hole’ ) I think that idea of smart use of language and red-flags for words and situations is brilliant but generally such subtler counter-grooming trust-levels/boundaries and escape triggers is the way forward yet really difficult to think how to put to young sensitive and vulnerable children especially when I so fear being dodgy already! And also that’s difficult to tell checklist-satisfied anxiety! I find checklists don’t help anxiety/feeling safe they have the opposite effect for a variety of reasons; though they are better than schedules for household stuff and I do try to write lists! I think health can lie in having an opinion and a strategy that works for you even if it isn’t 100% perfect even nuances-and-all for everybody!? We’re all finding our way in life!

  • Dillon
    March 18, 2012

    I like this post – my husband and I were talking about this in the car the other day – we didn’t want to teach our kids that strangers are bad, but obviously want them to be safe. I don’t like the built in gender bias – my husband is a kind of scary looking guy and so he gets this a lot from people who don’t know him. He understands that it comes with the territory of being big and bearded but still hurts his heart a little when people think he’s something he’s not, especially when that something he’s not is violent or lascivious. Our friends and co-workers laugh at the idea. Also, we offer to babysit all the time – not complete strangers, but friends and acquaintances – with no “reward” in it for us. We’re not creepy, we’re cool and thoughtful and believe in community.

  • Amy
    March 18, 2012

    Thank you, such simple but on purpose advice. I’ll be sharing it with my kids today.

  • [...] Great safety tips for our kids at Checklist Mommy:  “Tricky People” are the New Strangers [...]

  • meredith cox
    March 19, 2012

    Thanks for having this great site! I was abused as a child and have such a struggle with keeping my girls safe and being paranoid! It’s so nice to find information and advice that help bring balance.

  • Ellen
    March 19, 2012

    These are some really strong assertions that you’re making, and I think they show what a warped, fearful culture we live in. For several years, my husband and I were unable to get pregnant. We both really enjoy spending time with kids, and it helped heal our hurting hearts to help out with church nursery, babysit for friends occasionally, etc. Is my husband a “weirdo” because he would go out and play with them while their dads ignored their requests? No, he isn’t. This article encourages people to look suspiciously at any guy that is kind to kids who doesn’t have them. And that makes me angry.

    There are many kind and well intentioned guys who would love to volunteer at church with the youth or be willing to spend a little extra time with a kid who needs some attention… and they’re not going to because they’re afraid of being labeled as “suspicious.”

    I read an article recently about a man who was driving through a neighborhood and saw a toddler walking by herself. He thought about stopping, but he was afraid to because he was a guy, all alone. He kept going. And she died in an accident because no one stopped.

    I have three boys now. I talk to them about appropriate touch, about talking to us about anything and everything, and I will continue to do that. But I’m not going to live in fear, and I’m going to fight back against a culture that encourages fear mongering of guys just because they happen to be guys.

    BTW, my husband is a prosecutor. One part of his job involves throwing some child predators in jail. I’ve heard a lot of sad things in the last few years. BUT… that doesn’t mean we demonize kind men because of the twisted few…

    • carrissa
      March 23, 2012

      I am so glad you brought this up! My husband and I both love to work with children, and I myself was abused by a familiar person. I do believe that it is regretful that we have to take such precausionary measures, but I don’t think that means we have to suspect everyone is a pervert. My husband and I have the rule that our children don’t go anywhere alone with another adult. They don’t stay overnight at any one person’s house without one of us. We also don’t leave our children with male babysitters unless it is a married couple. Other than that, our kids are with one of us (ages 3 &1/2) all the time. And though I trust my husband with my life I have told him if he ever touches our kids in an abusive way, the police will deal with it, and he totally agrees! So we don’t suspect people, we just don’t give any one the chance.

      I absolutely love the safe strangers concepts! My daughter always wants to talk to people we meet at the store, now I can let her talk to some of them and teach her what to do if we get separated!

      • checklistmommy
        March 23, 2012

        I am so glad you see the subtle difference between SUSPECTING EVERYONE (which I don’t) and NOT GIVING ANYONE THE CHANCE (which I do)! Many readers seem to think I am saying “EVERYONE IS OUT TO GET YOUR KIDS,” when what I have been TRYING to make clear is, “YOU DON’T KNOW WHO IS TRYING TO GET YOUR KIDS — SO BE SAFE.”

        Thanks for stressing the point!

        • Viv
          October 16, 2012

          I got what you were saying and I think it is great. I have recently been …well, arguing/discussing, for lack of better words… this with some other moms. When I tell them I don’t like the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ thing I [didn't] have an alternative to tell them that was this clear. Thank-you for this article I will never teach my children to ‘not talk to strangers’ or to point and say ‘stranger’ (which some moms love when their kids do) because people are people and though, as parents, we need to protect our kids by being there for them and teaching them, we do not need them to make fellow HUMANS feel like scum! I love that my children are allowed to pet people’s dogs, say good morning to others out walking etc but all with me there (for now; my kids are 4, 2 and infant). I also never make my kids hug or kiss a grandparent, great-grandparent, uncle, aunt etc goodbye or hello or whatever. If they want to give hugs they can. If they don’t that is fiine too! I feel like I have taught them to trust their insticts about such situations.

          • Nicole
            November 1, 2012

            I think your point would have been more well received if you had not said, “NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.” I understand the overall point of the article, and agree with it, but this statement is a bit coarse. It’s definitely a blanket statement.

  • Giorgio
    March 22, 2012

    Thanks for the advices!

    • Desaraev
      December 6, 2012

      Why not change the articles few questionable phrases?

  • [...] Such a Great Post on CheckListMommy… seriously read it: Tricky People are the New Strangers. [...]

  • maryL
    March 27, 2012

    I understand where you’re coming from–after years of me not being able to get pregnant, my hubby and I found ourselves in a similar situation where spending time w/our friends’ and family’s kids, like you, absolutely helped w/the healing process. And no, my spouse isn’t a “weirdo” either.

    Yet when you say that “This article encourages people to look suspiciously at any guy that is kind to kids who doesn’t have them.”–I’m the one who’s actually perturbed by your response. Is that how you really interpreted this? The post is simply sharing advice about what kinds of red flags to look out for, and how to begin this kind of discourse in your family. I never would have thought to use the term “tricky people” (and some of the examples used) to explain this kind of subject matter to my kids. I don’t live in fear either, but I am thankful for articles and practical advice like this–anything to continue growing as a parent.

    Yoga and mindfulness classes are great for anger, just fyi. ;)

  • [...] in which our children feel comfortable talking with us about anything. We can talk to them about tricky people and how to get help. We can also empower them by honoring their personal bodily [...]

  • crys
    April 10, 2012

    I was recently at the zoo with my 5 year old twins and I was discussing the plan if we got separated. Typical stuff like, stay put, find a zoo keeper, go up to a mom with kids in a stroller. One of the boys piped up and said, “or a dad with a stroller” and I paused but agreed that dad with a stroller was also perfectly acceptable. I think moms need to get over our irrational fear of predatory men. It’s certainly not something I want my boys to grow up believing… that men can’t be as loving and capable as parents as women. I’m especially conscious of this as I’m in a same-sex relationship. I am sexist and it’s not behavior I want to model.

  • Joseph Pourelman
    April 11, 2012

    Great, according to your list, because I am socially awkward with the inlaws and find kids awesome along with people who like to engage and educate kids, I am a child molester.

    I say this, after my sister in law just sent me this link with the statement of, “This is you and your wife cannot take my daughter to the museum.”

    Love it. While this is better than the traditional rules, it is still overbroad. Perhaps you should use your own best judgment sometime?

    My daughter will learn some of this list, but far from all of it.

    • checklistmommy
      April 11, 2012

      Yeah, I think using your own best judgement is the NUMBER ONE rule — these are just general guidelines, at best — obviously, go forth and TRUST YOUR GUT.

    • caoetlyn
      August 16, 2012

      I was taken aback by that part, too. I’ve worked at family establishments where people take their kids for birthday parties. I was always annoyed by the adults who complained about being there, asking if we served alcohol. I was always impressed by the adults that played with the kids. My husband came from a relationship where his ex wasn’t good with kids and rarely played with her own, let alone her nieces and nephews. At family and friend get togethers she would much rather get drunk and holler if the kids weren’t acting right. My husband is great with kids, and although he did socialize with the adult family members, he did sometimes like to play with the kids outside…they are, after all, family, too. So according to that point, my funloving husband and even my 55 year old great aunt are creepers for spending more time with the kiddos. She needs to be more specific, because some overly analytical, paranoid judgmental mom will jump to conclusions and assume the worst after reading this. We do not need to encourage the judgment that its childish or weird for an adult to interact with kids. Its bad enough that my sons friend’s prissy momthinks I’m weird for spending time with my kids when I know for a fact that she gives her kids whatever they want just so long as they leave her alone. Sad but true. Instead, we need to look out for odd behavior from said strange family member. Are they spending too much time with a certain kid, going out of sight with them. Do your kids tell you later about weird conversations they’ve had with that family member. Even better, maybe she should encourage a little less drinking withthe adults and a little more paying attention to what the kids are up to.

    • Cee
      August 19, 2012

      I think you need to take what practical advice you can from this article and get over your defensiveness. A parent’s need to keep their children safe outweighs your hurt feelings. The article clearly addresses statistical realities and not “oh, I’m [person who babysits for free, man, etc.] and *I* don’t do any of that! How daaaare you accuse me….?” Parents don’t care about you and your hurt feelings. They care about keeping their kids safe. And statistics say that strange men are not as safe as strange women Instead of bawwwwing, why don’t you go after those strange men who are attacking kids?

      –Not Even a Parent, Just a Realist

  • Duncan
    April 13, 2012

    As a recovering alcoholic I take a bit of issue with this..”You know that weird adult cousin of yours who’s always out in the yard with the kids, never in the kitchen drinking with the grown-ups? Keep an eye on your kids when he’s around.”
    I’m that “weird” adult cousin who doesn’t drink and more often than not would prefer to spend time with sober kids than drunken adults. And I bet I’m not alone.
    While I get the gist of the advice, the assumption that adults who don’t drink are somehow dangerous does no one any good.

    • BBQmama
      June 18, 2012

      I agree with you. My husband is also “that guy.” Although he’s not a recovering alcoholic, he doesn’t like to be around people who are drinking and he plays with the kids. He juggles, pushes them on swings, and makes monkey noises for their entertainment. He’s not a danger.

      • Jennifer
        August 13, 2012

        I too agree, and thank you for saying so!! I have an adult step brother who has adhd and is therefore VERY much a big kid at heart. He’s also a recovering alcoholic. He’s a wonderful person and would much rather hang out with my kiddos (whether outside or inside), than be with us “adults”. I know that he would never do anything to hurt my children, he just has more fun with them than with the other adults. And sometimes, he’s the only person willing to play with my daughter, who also adhd. They have fun and wear each other out! Lol

  • [...] cars. She has an awesome series of posts about keeping kids safe on and off-line, including “Tricky People” Are The New Strangers – Take a few minutes to go read it, and bookmark the resources she has included there. She [...]

  • Lynda
    June 26, 2012

    Thank you so much for this post! It is great for parents with children of all ages. I’m going to share a link to your blog (from my blog) so more people can read this insightful post. Is that ok?

    • checklistmommy
      June 27, 2012

      Please do!

  • Anonymous
    July 3, 2012

    This post is excellent. I am a mother of a victim, and I wish I’d known some of this stuff years ago. This gives me great comfort in being able to protect her younger sisters.

  • Enid
    August 9, 2012

    Thank you for posting! I have had people get upset with me for teaching my kids the proper names for their body parts and this mentions the exact reason why I have chosen to do so!

  • Jen
    August 9, 2012

    I am a Victim Advocate who works with victims of abuse and have preached these same guidelines to every parent I am close with as well as my clients! Sadly, most of them discredit me because I do not have children. I have seen far too many families affected by abuse and seldom is the perpetrator a stranger. One thing I would add is to make sure your children know that if anyone asks them to keep a secret and says they will harm their mom/dad/caretaker, the child still needs to tell. It is often that an abuser will threaten to kill or harm a parent or loved one if the child tells the secret. Great post!

  • [...] Tricky People Are The New Strangers from Checklist Mommy [...]

  • Jennifer
    August 13, 2012

    Ok, a lot of this information is great, but not all. To say that “NO ONE” wants to do nice things for us or for our children, is a bit rash in my opinion. There ARE still GOOD people in the world, who would love to babysit my children JUST TO BE NICE. There are still good people who would enjoy taking my kids to a museum, JUST because they want to and they would truly not have any ill intentions behind it. Now, I’m not saying that bad people don’t exist, or that they wouldn’t use one of these reasons to try and get close. What I’m offended by, is the fact that you’re so blanketly stating that NO ONE wants to watch your kids just to be nice, etc. C’mon now, really?? I disagree.

    • Laura Ward
      October 13, 2012

      I love this article…as a victim of sexual abuse the red flags of an abuser fit right on in my story. However, I agree with the person above…I am a mother and early childhood educator. I love spending time with children. I volunteer regularly for watching other people’s children. The reasons, one they keep my kids company and two I feel like I am helping other parent’s out when I am going to be home anyway. I also will tutor any child for free that needs it in order to help them succeed. I would never do anything at all to harm a child in any way and I know they are many other people out there the same way. How do you tell the difference? I don’t want my kids to miss out on the opportunities of being around other good adults. They need all the support they can get in this world. Plus, many times if at a party and the adult conversations start toward gossiping or other inappropriate content around children. I will distract the children with leading games. I like it when parents start playing games with a group of kids. Not in private of course…that is weird. But I am seriously worried now….HOW can you tell the difference between someone caring about kids to someone aiming to harm them?

  • trina
    August 13, 2012

    I want to first say I have not read all of the post on here so if i repeat something that has already been said, I am sorry. I do love the idea that there are seminars and writings on this type of thing. So, thank you for that. I was a sexually abused child be 3 different uncles. I grew up not telling anyone and thinking I was the only one. I do fill that it probably impacted me in ways I will never know. That aside I want to say while Pattie has some good points and ideas one of the things stated “■You know that weird adult cousin of yours who’s always out in the yard with the kids, never in the kitchen drinking with the grown-ups? Keep an eye on your kids when he’s around.” Is not fair to alot of innocent kid loving adults. I have 3 grown daughters, many, many of their freinds and neighborhood childern that I have spent countless hours playing with, nuturing,and give small tokens to out of love and pride for things they have acomplished. I have never and would never abuse a child sexually, physically, or mentally. Childern are our greatest gifts, to be loved, nurtured, and treasured. All to often because the other adults are too busy in the kitchen drinking, bad happens to inoceint childern. If enjoying the company of our childern and watching over them so nothing bad comes to them is wrong, I would rather be that non drinking, child entertaining, wierd cuz then one of the drunks I am trying to protect them from! Rest assured I will still be there for them when you are drunk and passed out! Picking up the slack and loving every minute of it! Keeping childern and animals safe ranks much higher on my list then getting a buz on with the adults!

  • Partofthe25%
    August 13, 2012

    Thank you for this! I happen to be a 1 in the 1 in 4 of sexually abused women. I was repeated molested while I was, maybe, 4 to 6 and my parents had no idea. I didn’t even think it was something I should or shouldn’t talk about. I don’t ever remember being told, “Don’t tell your mother or father.” It was someone in my family and I thought it was just a game.

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet (the comments are pretty long) but, as uncomfortable as it might be I urge you all to tell your children that it NOT ok for anyone to touch their private parts except doctors and even then only with your permission. They should know that they can tell you anything, especially if someone does ever touch them inappropriately.
    I don’t have any advice on how to speak to your children about something like this yet. My daughter just turned 3 and I plan to talk to her about this sooner rather than later.

  • Jen
    August 14, 2012

    Great tips and links, thank you!! I just attended a class for Sunday School on how to prevent abuse in the church and warning signs. Great advice here!

  • Heather
    August 14, 2012

    My cousin posted a link that lead me to your site on her profile and she insisted that all moms check it out. I can honestly say I’m glad I did. My son turns two in September. I know he is too young to understand now, but I will definitely tell him to find a mom + kids if he ever gets lost. Thanks for the helpful information. I will definitely check out some more tips from your site.

  • Amy
    August 14, 2012

    Some of these comments make me think of an amusement park height sign: “You must be at least THIS intelligent to comment on this article.” You’re giving a summary of highlights and tips from a broader program. That naturally means not every scenario is covered. It also means that the examples given here are a brief way to illustrate your point, not that it is an all-encompassing generalization. (i.e. Not ALL teachers are bad, not ALL babysitters are bad.) The need of some readers to take tips out of context is a bit maddening. I felt compelled to write so that you, dear ChecklistMommy, don’t lose hope in the ability of your audience to grasp your ideas. ;) This was well written and I fully intend to implement many of these concepts with my own little ones, (who may or may not be named “Snoop Dogg” and “Eazy-E”.)

    • checklistmommy
      August 14, 2012

      Amy, THANK YOU! And amen.

      • Heather
        October 15, 2012

        “It also means that the examples given here are a brief way to illustrate your point, not that it is an all-encompassing generalization.”

        Well when the article reads in ALL CAPS “NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.” It seems to be written as an all encompassing generalisation.

    • Desaraev
      December 6, 2012

      If she meant this as a general rule of thumb it should be rewritten to seem like a general rule and not bluntly identifying dads or men as bad or no one is just nice enough to babysit your kids for free ever. It should be… Make your own judgements but when talking to your kids it’s good to generalize the type of people you are okay with them and here is how and why. Then with the creepy cousin who hates the indoor drunks and would rather play with kids is now a creeper should have been .. Sometimes a well meaning and seemingly okay family member or friend spends a lot of time with the kids and not the adults who are off boozing irresponsibly while their kids are outside (see how I generalized poorly there?) well that person may be nice and responsible but just in case a few warning signs you should look for are if they take a particular interest in one kid at a time or take them off alone. Etc etc

  • That one girl
    August 14, 2012

    If only this list was around when I was a little girl.

  • LittleGypsy
    August 14, 2012

    I found this on Pinterest (what did we do before that site???) and I really like the way this article is written. I am about to be a step-mom to 3 kids (8, 5, and 3) and there are days when I realize I have no idea how to explain things on their level. Their mother passed right after the baby was born and their father is clueless when it comes to this stuff.

    For example, just yesterday we were in a store and a lady (and her teenage daughter) started talking to them. Now, my step-daughter-to-be is about the cutest thing you could ever imagine, dressed in all pink with her Dora sunglasses, and smiling at everyone, so I can’t blame this lady for saying hello. My fiance and I were only 5 feet away, and they were just talking about these hot pink shoes on the wall, but I still felt the need to talk to all 3 of them about strangers again. And again, they asked about exceptions and justified it by pointing out that we were standing there. That was a hard topic for me because the middle child has ADHD so I try to make sure all rules can be followed all the time. Now I feel like I can explain it easily.

    PS-Thanks to the person who commented about included “big kids” with adults. My nephew was molested by a teenager for several years when he was very young. He will never be able to fully function in society and my entire family suffers with him.

  • [...] This was fantastic advice. I have shared it with…read more [...]

  • Vone
    August 15, 2012

    Great info and advise. I’m currently reading The Way The Crow Flies, which is about a group of girls who get abused by their 4th grade teacher. I’ve been thinking of ways to talk to my girls about not trusting all adults, even those of authority. These tips above will help.

  • Megan
    August 15, 2012

    Thank you for this! As a childhood sexual assault survivor, counselor and advocate, I know how rampant this is. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Stranger danger isn’t the problem, it’s familiar danger. It’s not the stranger in the park. It’s your mother,father, sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, bus driver, priest, reverend, teacher, principal, etc, etc, etc. Teach about inappropriate touching, learn the warning signs and above all, pay attention!

  • Jen
    August 15, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this information!!! It makes me feel terrified… probably because I haven’t taught my little girls any of this. My oldest is just turning 3 next week. There are such evil people in this world.

    • Cee
      August 19, 2012

      There is evil…but there is also great good in the world. Watch out for the evil, help each other identify it and shut it down (hence this article) but don’t let it overwhelm you. There’s more good than evil.

  • Jessica
    August 15, 2012

    Love this post. Thank you for this!

  • Amy
    August 15, 2012

    As a child sexual abuse prevention advocate, mother of two young children, and a teenage step-daughter who was sexually abused by her step-father, my highest recommends are these…

    1. SafeSide DVD – created by John Walsh and the founder of Baby Einstein, this video teaches children how to deal with people you know, people you “kinda know”, and “don’t knows”. My children have been watching it since the ages of 2 & 4. They love it and remember it.

    2. Darkness to Light (www.d2l.org) has a comprehensive program, Stewards of Children, which is the only nationally recognized, evidence based training to train adults how to prevent recognize and appropriately respond to child sexual abuse. Their website has a wealth of information, statistics, and facts.

  • [...] Mommy does an excellent job of elaborating on this point, and you should certainly check out her post on the subject. The fact is that there are times in our lives when interacting with strangers is a [...]

  • sarah
    August 16, 2012

    This may take the conversation in a whole different direction, but I KNOW it is an issue that is ignored, or maybe just not known to be happening….. I am the caregiver of an adult older brother who is mentally handicapped. We were all taught as children by that we had ‘private areas’ that nobody was supposed to touch. Even to this day, Michael knows I am not supposed to see his body, but I do have to make sure he bathes correctly. He knows the difference between me checking on him and someone watching him. However, once he was staying at our brother’s house and was bathing. As our oldest brother was checking on him, he noticed Mike’s chest was discolored. Michael was terrified that we found out that he had been physically abused by the state run day facility he went to. We, as his siblings, were of course outraged at this incident, but Mike took it as we were mad at him. It was so tough to explain it to him that while we were mad at what happened TO him, it wasn’t his fault and we weren’t mad AT him. Michael was taught that nobody was supposed to touch his body and now that he was abused, he felt it was his fault because he somehow let it happen. It took us a long time to get him to understand, but now he knows that if ANYONE touches him, he is to tell ALL of his siblings, not just one. I know my other brothers won’t abuse him, and they know I won’t, but it gives Mike security to know that he can tell all of his family and we aren’t mad at him. Also this way, with his limited intellectual ability, Mike understands that more than one adult should be told anything that happens to his body. Mike is comfortable now with me looking in on him as he showers. Sometimes he shares too much trivial information, like someone pinching him, but none of us siblings ever let him know we don’t want to know about anything that happens to him. It is our job to insure his well-being since our parents are gone, and any of us would fight to the death anyone who abuses him again. BTW, we couldn’t press charges on his abuse because he wouldn’t ever tell who did it to him, but his nipples are forever scarred from the abuse. There’s no telling how long he had been abused before we found out. The point of this story is that everyone, whether it be a child, teenager, or adult, needs to understand and have a person/place they know they can be confident in telling what is happening to them. Even some of us adults who aren’t intellectually compromised are vulnerable to abuse and we find it hard to confide in someone else because we may see it as our fault. The bottom line in ANY abuse is that it is NOT the fault of the victim, and they need to tell anyone and everyone who will listen until the abuse stops!!

  • Janet
    August 16, 2012

    Had a little girl in tears approach me last night at Walmart. She couldn’t find her mommy. My teenage daughter was with me so evidently this little girl felt safe asking me for help.

  • Laura
    August 16, 2012

    Im shocked by how aggressive so many of the commenters have been… These are general guidelines that are meant to help guide parents in teaching their children how to protect themselves. As a pediatric nurse practitioner in training, it’s often my responsibility to reinforce this teaching at checkups. I find this to be very informative and I think it teaches it from a perspective that parents will GET.

    What all the offended, statistic-wielding commenters need to realize is that it’s not about “stay away from THIS KIND of person” it’s about “know that THIS SITUATION may be unsafe.”

    Thank you, Sarah, for sharing this information. I’m excited to show it to the other nurses I work with. Keep up the good work!!

  • Erik
    August 16, 2012

    I disagree with the idea of teaching children to find a mom with kids. Thats a terrible idea because mom’s can be just as crazy as anyone else.

    Find someone who is in a uniform instead. McDonalds uniform, Wal*Mart uniform, someone behind a counter who is at their job and whose boss is watching them.

    • Cee
      August 19, 2012

      Anyone *can be* “as crazy as anyone else.” But are they *likely* to be? The article clearly addresses probabilities, not possibilities. Moms with kids are statistically safer for kids to approach. Get over your hurt feelings.

  • Natalie
    August 16, 2012

    Overall, I agree with this article. I think it has LOTS of great tips and pointers about the dangers surrounding our every day lives…but, I think perhaps it may be taking some things a little too far. Let me just say, I have 4 children ages NB-9yrs, one with special needs — I tend to err on the side of paranoia in most of these ‘stranger danger’ scenarios, but some things didn’t really jump out as scary situations to me..Example– I offer to babysit OTHER people’s children for free often. Not because I’m a creep, but because I know how necessary and appreciated that ‘alone time’ is, …and that person outside playing with the kids instead of drinking is automatically a molester? Maybe they’re a concerned adult making sure nobody falls into the pool while all of their parents are in the kitchen drinking. I just think that teaching your child to fear any adult who shows interest in them is planting an irrational fear. I think there are a lot of shady characters out there, but I also think there are genuine people who truly love children and want to make them happy — not hurt them. I guess it’s just a delicate balance of weeding out the bad ones and helping your children to understand what is and is not okay.

  • shotaiken
    August 16, 2012

    I actually decided long ago not to offer to help any children who were lost. Everyone is so batshit insane with distrust these days, that even women are being accused of crazy things. My male friends all share the same outlook: If they see a kid hurt in a store, or looking lost, they turn and go the other way. Let someone else handle it. When I went to visit relatives, I would always be the one who spent time with the kids, trying to help them with their reading, homework, and self-esteem. However, somehow we’ve started this outlook that any adult that doesn’t want to sit around with the other adults and participate in annoying small talk/smut talk/alcoholism/smoking/etc is somehow to be distrusted. So I don’t visit family anymore, because I dislike the fact that I have to prove myself. Now I just sit at home and knit, play video games, take care of the local cat colony, and watch movies. The hilarious part is that the parents of these kids are all whiny because now their kids grades are falling, and they want me to come help out again. Derp, NO. I was treated with distrust, and most likely will still be, because Stranger Danger is just under a new name. It’s one thing to teach kids how to properly respond to situations, but to treat someone as the suspect of a crime before something has happened is pretty messed up. I’ve always loved being an aunt, but as people become more and more paranoid, it’s become more of a burden than a joy. I keep thinking how there have be ways to protect children that don’t jump to, “KEEP AN EYE ON THAT ONE, THEY ARE SUSPICIOUS!” when the person isn’t even being suspicious yet.

    • Cee
      August 19, 2012

      This whole remark is creepy. This especially: “However, somehow we’ve started this outlook that any adult that doesn’t want to sit around with the other adults and participate in annoying small talk/smut talk/alcoholism/smoking/etc is somehow to be distrusted.” WEIRD. For all the bitter weirdos out there who are screaming “discrimination,” let’s review. There’s a difference between a teacher or a daycare assistant losing their job because someone jumped the gun…and a kid who instead of going to you for help, chooses someone else. If that kid chooses someone else, you’re not a victim of discrimination, and you need to get over it. In plain speech–little kids who need to solicit help from strangers ARE ALLOWED TO DISCRIMINATE.

    • kate
      September 13, 2012

      I think your choice not to help a lost or hurt child is gross – after reading your comment you sound like a total weirdo.

      This article is about keeping kids safe.

    • Evening83
      February 4, 2013

      I understand where you’re coming from, and it sounds like you’ve been in a really hurtful situation because of some people’s mistrust. There are those who end up overly suspicious, and good people’s lives have been ruined just because of unfounded accusations. I don’t think that you’re weird at all for taking those steps of self-preservation that you think are necessary.

      I’m speaking as a person who has dealt with abuse within my own family, and who now works with children who have been sexually exploited. It’s just such a shame that some people can be so depraved that the need for these kinds of precautions exists at all. These are great suggestions and like any advise should be applied with wisdom and matched to your situation.

  • Monica
    August 16, 2012

    Thankssssssssssss so muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sara Phillips
    August 17, 2012

    Thank you for posting this! I appreciate it (and the links to Pattie’s website)!

  • Melody
    August 17, 2012

    I mostly like the advice on here, but some people do actually want to baby-sit yours kids just to be nice. Your friends probably do every once in a while. At church we have parent respite nights sometimes where baby-sitting is offered so the parents can have alone time.

    As a college student I spent time with a couple grade schoolers I knew (I knew their families too). I just thought it was a nice thing to do. They loved that a cool college kid was giving them some attention.

    Parents just need to pay attention to the kind of person spending time with their kid. Maybe if I’d hung out with those grade schoolers all the time and didn’t have other friends/activities going on their parents would have been right to be worried. But I was an average college student who usually just spent a little time chatting with them after church or at their parent’s homes (they had me over for dinner a lot) and took them out for ice-cream or something like…twice a year.

  • Bet
    August 17, 2012

    There seems to be some really great ideas here. One of the most detrimental programs (in my opinion) that our nation implemented was “Stranger Danger” because of the same reasons discussed here. However, there is one thing that was said that I disagree with. When you talk about a teacher noticing that your child likes something and wants to take them to do something outside of school hours. I am a teacher and work in a very impoverished area where my students do not have opportunities to do things like go to museums, take art classes, etc. So when I have the funds sometimes I will ask a parent if it is okay to take their child to do something. However, I usually ask more than one student or ask another teacher to come as well so that no eyebrows will be raised and I always let me principal know. Plus you could always come along yourself. But don’t deny the teacher the opportunity to build a relationship with your child- it is KEY to the student’s success in the classroom.

  • Lori
    August 17, 2012

    Great information. However, I don’t know if I would teach my child to search out a stranger mom with kids. I always taught her to find an employee with a uniform or name tag and not to leave wherever we are. There are several examples of women friends and wives of molesters, kidnappers, and serial killers helping them to procure a child, oftentimes with another child in tow in order to appear more safe or approachable.

    • Paul T.
      August 19, 2012

      You’ve watched too much TV.

  • Lindsey
    August 17, 2012

    I really like this article. I still highly recommend Protecting the Gift. One thing this article and the lists don’t go over is letting your kids know that it’s ok to change their mind. Many “tricky people” who are grooming children take many small baby steps to get where they want. Children have a very big sense of fair play and can get pushed into doing something because they have done something similar before. Children need to know that it’s never to late to tell. That they can change their mind about things.

    • Concerned
      October 21, 2012

      Wish there was a like button

  • [...] read a blog post the other day called Tricky People Are The New Strangers.  It's a great read, so be sure to check it out.  But the gist of it is that telling your [...]

  • Megan
    August 18, 2012

    I really appreciate this article. I am an expectant mom, but with the crazy world we are living in, I am already worried for my kids. Reading this is definitely so common sense, even though I never thought of any of this before. I’d like to add that my mom always taught me to go to the front of the store, where the intercom is if I got lost. As embarrassed as she or I may have been, I did not hesitate to get her announced over the loud speaker if I couldn’t find her.

    Also, I agree that your descriptions are just describing a general idea of what we should be aware of. I am a teacher and not at all offended that you mentioned a teacher. I’ve taught and coached for 5 years and never offered to babysit or take any kids anywhere by themselves.

    Again, thanks so much for sharing!

  • K
    August 18, 2012

    I apologize for not reading through all the comments — just too time-intensive — but I wanted to add two thoughts. One, as a 22-year-old female college grad, I have over 10 years of babysitting experience. A few years ago, a family with three young boys moved in down the street. I adore them, moreso than any other family I’ve sat for. Their parents are thoughtful and intentional with their kids, and the boys in turn are thoughtful and loving with each other. I jokingly nicknamed them my “boyfriends” because whenever I returned home from college, they would show up wanting to show me the newest project they had done at school, or wanting me to join them on their swingset. I feel strongly protective of these kids, and will often offer their occasionally overwhelmed parents a free night of babysitting, or offer to take the boys to see the latest Pixar or Disney G-rated movie. So, contrary to one point in this post, I DO genuinely want to babysit their kids to be nice. The boys are like little brothers to me, and their parents are my role models. So, I don’t condone accepting offers from teachers and coaches without doing some research, but I have to advocate for those of us who are sincerely interested in your children and their growth!

    Second, I have to advocate for some “adult cousins” who spend time with the kids at family reunions/parties. Sometimes I find “adult conversation” between my parents and their friends very repetitive, and I feel that I’m able to enjoy interacting with the kids more than I enjoy answering questions about my futile job search. So, again, take into consideration the individuals in your life, rather than generalize about “that adult cousin” or “that creepy teacher.”

    That said, thank you to all those wonderful parents out there who give love to their kids and those who love their kids! It makes my job as a part-time babysitter absolutely wonderful!

    • Paul T.
      August 19, 2012

      As an 18 year old male I would agree with these comments. I’ve always been the middle ground age between the adults and the children and I’ve grown up interacting with my younger cousins. They’re often much more entertaining than simply conversing about shows or their personal lives (gossip).

  • Sam M. | Atkinson Drive
    August 18, 2012

    Thank you so much for posting this! My son is 2 and doesn’t really understand this sort of stuff yet – but we just had a child-molester move into the neighborhood {which caused a huge uproar} and I was extremely concerned. Since talking to our neighborhood watch police I feel much better, and I’m so glad to have read this to know how to explain all of this to him in the future!

  • Sam
    August 18, 2012

    I agree with a lot of what you have to say and you certainly have freedom of speech. On the other hand you are close to getting a lawsuit from me, because you basically have stated don’t trust the man that actually cares about your kids and wants them to have a fun safe time. Push away the man that would give his life to protect your kids while you and the rest of the adults are off drinking not watching your kids. Yes, sometimes the weird adult cousin is a bad person, but sometimes unfortunatly more times than even you would like to admit the parent is just a crappy parent. You can keep your opinion about people like me that would protect any child with their life while you and your friends are “drinking in the kitchen”. Let’s face it if your drinking in the kitchen instead of playing with your kids, you actually don’t care about your kids the way you pretend. I know you probably won’t keep this comment on your site, but you know in your heart the truth.

    • Cee
      August 19, 2012

      You sound creepy.

      • theme
        August 22, 2012

        He’s “creepy” because he’d look out for five-and-under kids whose parents are busily drinking?

        Hooray for creepy people! Apparently we need more of them.

    • Jamie
      August 24, 2012

      Close to a lawsuit? You sound deranged on top of creepy.

  • [...] Tricky people are the new strangers :: Checklist Mommy [...]

  • [...] Tricky people are the new strangers :: Checklist Mommy [...]

  • Mindy
    August 19, 2012

    Thank you, thank you! I always told my kids to find a mom with kids if they ever needed help. Sure enough, this was a saving grace when one was lost in the crowd at an amusement park. I will be forever grateful to that wonderful woman for helping us! I’m sorry that there is so much negativity in the comments as I find this to be fairly straight-forward and practical advice.

    Great post!

  • Vanessa
    August 19, 2012

    “Let’s face it if your drinking in the kitchen instead of playing with your kids, you actually don’t care about your kids the way you pretend”…

    Wow ~ what a leap. I didn’t realise that a parent having a drink whilst their child played was representative of a non-caring parent……what utter rubbish.

    Thanks for the great post. I must say though, that I have always taught my daughter to ask for help from a store assistant, rather than help from other ‘shoppers’. I’ve never specified which gender, although I think she would instinctively go to a female.

    • Sam
      August 19, 2012

      Really “rubbish”. So, you think you drinking in the kitchen while your kids are playing in the yard doesn’t have an affect on them? Kids are much more preceptive than I think you give them credit. I have worked with youth my whole life and there has been a number of times kids have talked to me about their frustration with their parents drinking just one or two drinks with friends. Even if the parents don’t have a drinking problem trust me it does affect the kids. As a parent you have to make a sacrifice and not put yourself or first.

      • Cee
        August 21, 2012

        *eyeroll* Then those kids are losers. My parents had drinks with the adults while the rest of us kids played in the backyard, and nobody resented anything. We all realized that was an adult privilege that we would enjoy when we were old enough. Part of being a parent is protecting your boundaries–most kids recognize it’s appropriate for their parents to have some aspects of their life separate from them.

        • BH
          August 21, 2012

          No child is ever a loser. EVER. Seeing adults drink instead of spending time with them can have a negative effect on them. Who are you to call them losers because they don’t want their parents drinking in another room while they play outside?

  • Danielle
    August 19, 2012

    Thanks for the great article! I shared this on our moms group facebook page!

  • VH
    August 19, 2012

    Amazingly paranoid blog post and follow-ups. Please, keep yourself and your kids away from mine. My twins are curious, outgoing, and well adjusted – everything your and yours are not.

    • Cee
      August 21, 2012

      No worries, no one wants to go near your kids :) People tend to stay away from bitter anonymous commenters who take blog posts personally :)

  • [...]   [...]

  • Vanessa
    August 19, 2012

    I was actually not referring to alcohol ~ I’m a coffee addict instead. If I did choose to have an alcoholic beverage once in a while whilst my children played though, I think they’d be fine.

    So yes, rubbish.

  • Yogamama99
    August 20, 2012

    This is all Gavin DeBecker’s stuff from his books “Gift of Fear” and “Protecting the Gift” Read it. It changed almost everything I think about personal safety and keeping my kids safe.

  • Tessa
    August 20, 2012

    Great article, smart advice. I just have one thing that bothered me and I can’t believe nobody else noticed this. In the last paragraph you tell us to “buy her kid’s book”. That would mean the book her child owns or wrote. “Her kids’ book” means her book for children. I know that is what you meant, everybody knows that is what you meant, but it jars when you read it.
    Sorry to crap all over your article because of one little typo. I know I’m awful. Sorry.

    • checklistmommy
      August 20, 2012

      You are not awful … You are right! Thank you! Please feel free to point that stuff out any time … The four kids haze has done terrible things to my expressive capabilities.

  • Cory
    August 20, 2012

    I stumbled upon this post when my wife left it up on the computer, and couldn’t resist adding my two cents into the mix. I saw an awful lot of commenters lambasting those of us who are a bit frustrated with the perception of “don’t trust men, go for mom’s with kids instead”. Cries of “don’t be so offended you’re too stupid to get the point!” ensued.

    Personally, I’m not offended that according to this post I’m not to be trusted, I’m more irritated that it tells parents to cut off 50% of the people who might be able to help their child when they need it. This is called illogical parenting… or more correctly, letting the sensationalist news stories tell you how to raise your children. The reason we see lone men as a danger is because it makes for good headlines. But if we were to raise our kids by the statistics they are much much safer with strangers than they are with their own parents, and I don’t see anyone suggesting that we all give our kids up because they just aren’t safe with us statistically speaking

    So with all of that being said, I’m going to raise my girls the same way my mom raised me… to trust their instincts, and to never be afraid to ask questions. No subject can be taboo with kids if you ever expect them to come to you with the hard things in their lives.

    Good luck parents! Remember, this is an adventure :-)

  • Mandy
    August 21, 2012

    Um… I offer to babysit my friends’ kids for free. And I’m not a child molester. Or a parent myself. I just think it’s a nice thing to do. This article makes me sad.

  • HiswifeHermom
    August 21, 2012

    Yikes, a lot of heated comments on here. I can say, as a parent, I have noticed at playgrounds, school and at family functions that it seems people don’t watch their kids anymore. I am extremely cautious with my daughter to the point that it annoys my husband but, she’s my only so, that’s that. :) I think you need to use your gut instinct with people (men and women alike). If they seem a little “off” they probably are. I can agree with some of the people about ” my husband is the one playing with the kids at parties” b/c he is the “fun uncle/dad/brother, etc” and can run around with them and not get exhausted.
    I know people are cautious to help children b/c SOME parents can be very aggressive if they think you’re “after their kid” but, that seriously doesn’t stop me from helping a CHILD. We were just at the park with our daughter and noticed a little girl trying to help her brother out of a toddler swing and got his leg caught and OF COURSE no adult was watching them as she’s yelling and he’s screaming in pain. So we ran to help and the little boy asked my husband “wow…how OLD are you?!” and we laughed and sent them to their grandmother.
    I know I’m rambling here but, jeez…watch your kid and if you’re NOT, don’t be upset if another adult has to help b/c you aren’t paying attention. Most people in general are not evil. Not all men are out for your kids and to that, not all “moms with kids” are safe. Watch your kids and you wont have and issue.

  • BH
    August 21, 2012

    Thanks for the post. My childhood was robbed of me by a person we called a “family friend”. For the better part of 8 years I thought it was all normal. Finally, I realized it wasn’t normal and it wasn’t okay. It’s taken a long time to heal from that. So, any advice given to prevent my children from going through this is welcomed. I felt inadequate to protect them from it for so long, years before I even had them. I felt like I couldn’t even stop it from happening to me, how could i stop it from happening to them? Educating them and talking to them and keeping communication open and non-judgmental is the key. All of these tips are worth a shot. Every child is different and advice you give one child may not work on the other. That’s why having several ways to talk to them about it is helpful.

  • Susan Seaman
    August 22, 2012

    My kids are a bit older (teens). But one thing I tell them is that if anyone ever pulls a gun (or other weapon) on them in a parking lot and asks them to come along and they (or some other family member they’re threatening) won’t get hurt, call their bluff! Make them shoot you right there (which they very likely WON’T) rather than be taken off only to be killed somewhere else. Not something you’d tell a younger child, of course – just too scary.

  • [...] post about how to talk to your kids about tricky people (not strangers, but tricky people), made me feel better after reading it, because it gave me some solid tips and [...]

  • buwife
    August 24, 2012

    People may not think about the possible threats involved with children flying alone, but I would advise anyone to never do this for any reason. I have nothing to offer as reference but my husband works for a federal agency, he said the most common crime on a plane, are crimes against children. There are a lot of twisted, sick people out there and a plane is no exception. A child is trapped in their seat for the duration of the flight sitting next to who knows who, is that really a situation you would want your child in? If I choose to send a child to visit family or friends by plane, I will fly with them, their safety is way more important than my time or money.

  • Tara "Marinara"
    August 24, 2012

    Saw this via Pintrest (under DIY & Crafts for some reason) and IMMEDIATELY went to read this. This was phenominal! SOSOSOSO glad I read it.

  • Derrik
    August 25, 2012

    Interesting. Except for:
    I’ve done this though:
    “You know that weird adult cousin of yours who’s always out in the yard with the kids, never in the kitchen drinking with the grown-ups? Keep an eye on your kids when he’s around.”
    And I’m no child molester…
    And this:
    “Oh, and that soccer coach who keeps offering to babysit for free, so you can get some time to yourself? NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.”
    We have friends who babysit our kids just to be nice sometimes.
    Just saying….

    • Rob Wilco
      August 27, 2012

      Same here on the cousin aspect. (Other than that, this article really resonated with me big-time – thanks for writing it, Sarah!!)

      Another POV: Speaking for myself, I was the adult cousin, and no – I was never drinking with the grownups, because I didn’t really enjoy social drinking all that much, and also because at times the conversations could border on phony, like everyone was putting on airs and holding up another glass of wine or a brew “because they could.”

      Meanwhile, while the adults let their kids play outside and around the house, I would be the one to get involved with them, to listen to them, to engage them. I would even get down on my hands and knees with the little ones, or goof around with the tweens (they like to be goofy), swim and play keepaway or Marco Polo with the teens (to be fair: it was family AND friends), AND WE ALL HAD A BLAST!

  • Links « Deborah Klaver
    August 26, 2012

    [...] Tricky People Are the New Strangers [...]

  • Michelle
    August 26, 2012

    I am the weird adult cousin who is out playing the kids. And it isn’t because I want to kidnap, molest or hurt my family’s children. It is because I am preschool teacher, and have been all my adult life, and most celebrations are not child focused and children become bored, and restless, and behavior becomes a little iffy.

    I am the one organizing the children, playing games with them so the adults can continue doing what they are doing and everyone has a good time.

    Also, I can recognize when a friend of mine needs a break and will offer to babysit her children for free. Busy moms sometimes don’t see that they are pouring themselves out and forgetting to fill themselves back up.

    Please do not lump me or other people like me into the same category of vile people.

  • [...] http://www.checklistmommy.com/2012/02/09/tricky-people-are-the-new-strangers/ Share this:EmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  • [...] Kids need to not be afraid of strangers anymore, there are other threats. [...]

  • Leah
    August 27, 2012

    I was hurt by the generalizations. As a childless woman I feel I’ve been left out by my own body and forgotten by many friends once they had children. The implication that I would want to hurt children because nature didn’t give me any is painful. I enjoy playing, talking and surprising kids with presents or treats because it is joyful, not because I’m a creep

    • Trisha McKee
      August 27, 2012

      Leah, I completely understand and some of the comments jolted me and offended me a little. I’m out there with the neighborhood kids playing kickball. I have kids over at my house all the time. I was blessed with a daughter, but never had the houseful I wanted because her father wanted no more kids. So I have nieces and nephews, stepson, his friends, daughter’s friends, my friend’s kids… I love my adult time with adult friends, but I also love having my house full of laughter and chatter. I’m not a weirdo either. ((HUGS))

    • EJ
      August 27, 2012

      Leah, I totally understand what you’re saying. I’m in the same boat. I totally understand what the point of Pattie’s advice is, and I’m 100% behind giving kids whatever information will help them to stay safe, but I felt the same way about those particular statements. You and I both read this article because we care about children. Kids are fun though it’s exhausting to care for them, but sometimes the most worthwhile things in life are exhausting. I offer to take care of friends’ children because I really do care for both the parents (who need a night out) and the kids (who need somebody to tell them stories and play and reinforce the values that their parents are trying to teach them). Also, I want to stay on the same planet as my friends who are moms – even if I never have kids I want to be able to relate to other women and their experiences, to be able to converse about the things that my friends talk about, a lot of which does center around kids.

      So, on behalf of Leah and myself… if a single woman of your acquaintance offers to babysit or take them out for ice cream or something, she probably doesn’t want to hurt them, more likely just wants to make a difference in their life (and yours). Yes, please do be wary of anyone who sets off your creep-o-meter. By all means, do not leave your child alone with that person if there is any hint of inappropriate behavior. But simply to offer to do something kind… please don’t jump to the conclusion that there’s automatically an evil motive.

      A good friend to you and your children will want to support your efforts to raise them well, respecting, rather than undermining your efforts. If that isn’t happening, they’re not a good mentor or caregiver for your child. I wouldn’t recommend trusting anyone with your child who doesn’t have a high level of integrity in all aspects of their life. But if someone you know to be a respectable, caring person offers to provide childcare or stays out in the backyard to push your kids on the swings and make sure no one gets hurt while the other adults chat in the kitchen… please don’t automatically assume evil.

      I will add that I do appreciate most of the content of this post, specifically the part about moving away from the “stranger” terminology for one related reason: as much as I want to specifically support my friends in the raising of their children, there’s also that phrase “it takes a village.” Sometimes I see a child I don’t know in a dangerous situation and I just have to step in as a responsible adult. If I see a child playing in the street for example, I’m going to stop and warn them to be careful. And I don’t want that to be perceived as “stranger danger,” so I do like this distinction between “strangers” and “tricky people,” as well as the explanation of the kinds of things that “tricky people” might say. Tricky people probably don’t say, “Hey honey, don’t play in the street, okay? Cars can’t see you.” (I’ve had this experience several times and I hate that my attempt to save a kid from imminent death is perceived as frightening. I understand the need to protect children from strangers, it just makes me sad that I live in a world where my good motives can be interpreted as the opposite. I’m really not trying to kidnap your child. Just trying to help you keep him/her alive.)

      I will do everything I can to keep children safe. I don’t have any of my own, but I’m deeply committed to their welfare (again, the reason I read this post). I love their playful spirits, the joy of discovery and the hilarious things they say. It’s a huge privilege to get to play a role in a child’s life and I’m honored to play any small part in helping them to become the people they’re growing into.

  • [...] Kids need to not be afraid of strangers anymore, there are other threats. [...]

  • Trisha McKee
    August 27, 2012

    I think it is also important to teach your children to not be afraid to seem rude. We always stress to kids to be polite. A man once approached my daughter in his car (right outside MY HOUSE) and asked her name. She gave a different name. He asked her dog’s name (she was walking her jack russell/pug mix). He asked to see the dog. Then he asked her to pick up the dog and step closer so he could get a better look. That is when my daughter’s instincts kicked in and thankfully she forgot all I had taught her about being nice and remembered all I had taught her about being safe. I know sometimes I would be in a situation where I felt uncomfortable but was worried about coming across as rude or overreacting. I want my daughter to feel completely comfortable with screaming and running even if it turns out there was no need to.

  • lisa
    August 28, 2012

    Thats so funny to hear this. I have always told my now 8 yr old son that when we are out to find a mom with kids. He did ask about dads at about age 6 and I told him that as long as the person had children with them that he could ask them for help but he was never to leave or go anywhere outside the store, zoo whereever it was with anyone no matter what. Especially if they want him to get into a vehicle. it has worked well with us. I have also run through scenarios with him, like what would you do if you were riding your bike and someone with a leash was lookign for a dog etc. even if its a friend. so that he is prepared.

  • marissa
    August 29, 2012

    Thank you so much for posting this info! So important, practical, and encouraging!

  • [...] scouring Pinterest for a new hair color, I saw a pin from my friend that linked to a blog post, “Tricky People are the New Strangers” and I saw that child safety tip along with much more on Checklist Mommy’s site. She pointed [...]

  • Emily
    September 1, 2012

    I’m the mother of a two year old and I found this through Pinterest. And while I find your article STATISTICALLY accurate, I was just in shock. People are, for the most part, good. The weird cousin? People who volunteer to babysit? The teacher who wants to take a student to the museum? Come on! Every adult who takes an interest in a child or even likes or loves children is not an ax-murdering rapist! How about establishing trust with your children that they KNOW if anything happens, come and talk to you? Teach them how to defend themselves if anything happens. Teach kids you can TALK to strangers, you just cannot go OFF with strangers. That way, they get to see the world for what it is — basically good — with a dollop of caution, which is also basically good.

  • Monica
    September 1, 2012

    Everyone who is hating on this posting is just ridiculous.
    I think these are great tips to keep your children safe. I don’t care about statistics, I want to say whatever is easiest for my children to remember and what I think has the best chances of preventing a tragedy.
    Stop misinterpreting the advice. It never said anywhere in the post that men were dangerous, it just said find a mom with kids. That makes perfect sense to me. Typically, moms are the ones who are out and about with kids, especially in a place where I (a mom) am out with my kids! And statistically, women are more likely to be the guardians of children. It’s as simple as that. That MAY explain why women’s in home abuse rates are higher, simply because more women live with children than men. Stop trying to make it about men vs. women, it is about the safety of children.
    It never said that every person who offers to babysit for free/take your child somewhere/gives them a gift is going to abuse them, however, these are just PREVENTATIVE safety measures.
    In the end, this is just advice. Teach your children whatever YOU feel is right. In the end, 99 times out of 100, when your child comes to ask you if they can go play with a boy and his dad who are playing with a soccer ball, no abuse will occur. However, that 1 time when your kid comes to ask you if he can go behind the tree with a suspicious person, you will be VERY glad they asked.

  • Jordan
    September 2, 2012

    Some of this advice is way over the top! Let your kid live. If a teacher wants to take her students some where ask to go with. Unless you get a bad vibe from this teacher. I am a teacher and love going to eat with my kindergarteners in the presence of their parents. Also like someone else said. People like to babysit your kids for free. To be nice and to let you and your husband have a date. That is not weird at all. I feel bad if you don’t have friends like that you can trust!

  • Elana Bowman
    September 3, 2012

    Just to let you know I am one of the weird (single, no kids) adult who would be outside playing with the kids. Why? Because I love kids, love talking to them and reading them stories. And I am considered weird but really good with kids. I am also the kind of person who would babysit kids for free, for the same reason, I love kids and I connect with them, read them stories etc. Of course I only babysit friend and families kids.
    I think other good advice for kids, is let them trust their instincts, if they back away from someone, show fear of someone or get anxious around someone, that is generally a good sign. Let them tell you why, understand that if they are not comfortable hugging a great aunt or taking someone’s hand as long as they are polite – it’s all about them feeling safe and secure with people.
    Also, if a kid needed help of any kind, not running into a road, climbing the jungle gym (monkey bars), if any kid was in any danger; I would feel compelled to help and often have. It also saddens me that this is perceived by parents as some kind of danger. I often chat to parents as well, does this make me weird? I get that parents want to protect. So do I. The same way I want to protect and help animals. And anyone else for that matter, weirdly perceived or not.

  • Kelly
    September 4, 2012

    Good for you for not opting out. My daughter was 4 when we had our first chance for her to go to a talk about bad touch and good touch. I dithered over it and finally decided “next year.” Two months later I found out that had already been abused. Predators hurt very young children too, not just those old enough to go to a class.

  • Heather Buen
    September 4, 2012

    This is the best advice I have ever heard and seems teachable to a young child. Some of it is a common sense lesson for parents.

    I agree that kids need to learn how to “read” people and telling them not to talk to any strangers at all is unreasonable in this. This survival skill will help them later in life.

  • Sheri
    September 4, 2012

    That is great advice! I’m going to use the “tricky people” with my kids.

  • Katie Fender
    September 4, 2012

    I came across this on pinterest, thank you for posting this. It has TONS of great information in it. I have a son who is almost a year old, so this is extremely helpful information!

  • plaidslg
    September 6, 2012

    Found your site via pinterest…I’ve been telling my small children if they are ever lost – to find a “lady with children” for quite some time now – got that advice from a friend who read a safety book written by an FBI profiler. I’ve also been telling them an adult doesn’t ask children for help… I am amazed at how much over-thinking people are doing and posting here. When you’re are trying to advise YOUNG children, let’s keep it simple! The advice isn’t an indictment on dads, men, single people…it is the easiest, simplest, safest advice a YOUNG child can be expected to remember when they are in distress. Thanks for posting your blog post. Keep it up!

  • Sarah
    September 6, 2012

    I would agree to all of this except the babysit because we want to be nice, I offer to sit for anyone’s kids to be nice babysitters are way to expensive!!

  • Kara
    September 6, 2012

    I love this article and would love to re-post it, except….really? White slavery? Was that sentence necessary?

  • Happy Friday!
    September 7, 2012

    [...] It’s not stranger danger, it’s tricky adult danger [...]

  • Jo
    September 8, 2012

    Just to offer the fact that that there are exceptions to every rule – I’m an adult cousin who would rather play/look after the kids at a party than drink with the adults. There are a lot of people in my family who drink WAY too much when they’re around alcohol and at parties (yes, parents and childless folks alike) and I think it’s important to have someone sober keeping an eye on things.

  • Kat
    September 8, 2012

    I really like the term “tricky people”! On some news show I was watching recently a lady who teaches teens about internet safety was talking about how she had to totally redefine the term “stranger” to them because for most teens, the internet has sort of done away with the concept of “stranger’. They can see the person’s picture on facebook and they look nice and their friend kind of knows them so they aren’t strangers…right? And she said that the concept of “stranger” was a totally confused concept for them.

  • Kat
    September 8, 2012

    That and I love your picture…that guy always creeped me out, even if he did turn out to be a “good guy”

  • everydaymommy
    September 8, 2012

    1) I want to address the fact that generalizing seems to be an issue for some. We have to remember to think like a kid when talking to them if we overwhelm them with info they are likely to forget the conversation completely. 2) I want to share the conversation that I recently had with my daughter about a strange man that hangs around in Kroger and never really seems to be buying anything. I always approaches children and tries to talk to them. “I said that its not that strange that older people tend to sayu hi to, or smile at young children but in a normal case it would be a simple hello and move on with your shopping.” Very unlike this man who start talking to my children and following me through the store asking them questions and has even tried to touch them

  • everydaymommy
    September 8, 2012

    Continuing my last commit… I haven’t thought as labeling what I was saying to my child as “teaching about tricky people” bit I do think its what i was tring to do at the time. I love the idea and I think what i read here will help me have more direction in my own mind when the next conversation like this comes up. Just remember to offer realistic examples such as the examples in this post about what an adult asking for inappropriate advice might say “can you help me find my puppy” (red flag) also I try to work these things into conversation bc I feel that if I try and sit them down and have “the talk” they are going to be like “can I go play now” lol and blow me off. We talk and joke about all sorts of stuff and when the timing is right I’m like “seriously though, you need to know…” I done know if it works best this way for everyone but I think it is whats working for me. I would love to hear other ideas on how best to approach these kinds of important topics. Also, I’m going to stick with “mom+kids” for now and my husband agrees.

  • everydaymommy
    September 8, 2012

    Thats mom+kids out in an open area :)

  • Kyle
    September 9, 2012

    “That, to me, is the number one sign of a good book or seminar about parenting — it doesn’t stress you out.”

    This attitude kind of worries me. She makes it sound like her own comfort and convenience is more important than the safety of the kids.

  • [...] Tricky People are the New Strangers – CheckList Mommy Really great points about the difference between tricky people and strangers.  [...]

  • Random Monday - Not Inadequate
    September 9, 2012

    [...] Here’s an interesting article at Checklist Mommy on how to talk to your kids about Stranger Danger. This is the sort of thing I randomly freak out [...]

  • Safer than before
    September 10, 2012

    [...] to share think link that has been passed around facebook a few times recently. It’s from Checklist Mommy, Tricky People Are The New Strangers. And I think all parents need to read [...]

  • richardpaez@gmail.com
    September 10, 2012

    Your language is unfortunately sexist. A “mommy” with kids is OK to approach, but a “daddy” with kids isn’t?

    “That said, if there is a weirdo at the park, he’s not going to fit the “stranger” model — so stop teaching your kid about strangers! He’s going to come up to your kid and introduce himself. Voila! He ain’t a stranger anymore.”

    Always a “he”?

    As a man who was repeatedly molested and abused by a WOMAN, I’m sorry to see you have such a one-sided view of who the predators are.

    • Sarah
      September 27, 2012

      Thank-you for voicing your story, the advice in this article is so sexist I can’t believe it exists in 2012.

      Teaching your children to avoid men is ridiculous and potentially harmful information. Even if we accept the notion that most (most being the operative word) sexual predators are men the fact still remains that the people in the best position to help your child are also more likely to be men. Police officers, firefighters, rescue workers …. are these really the type of people you want to teach your children to stay away from?

      If your child is lost tell them to find an employee or someone is uniform – because these people are there to help. Tell them to ask that person to call their guardian and stay exactly where they are until that person comes to get them.
      On the off-chance that you are somewhere where approaching random strangers is your child’s only option than tell them to find a FAMILY – because guess what not all children have a mother – and that is perfectly okay.
      If we are living under the assumption that a lone father is potentially dangerous to your child then we also need to entertain the idea that the mother your child is approaching kidnapped all those children.

      Don’t raise sexist children, you’re only going to lure them into the false sense of security that women will never harm them and this could not be farther from the truth.

      • Deanna
        November 2, 2012

        I have taught my kids to talk with folks and be friendly but to never go anywhere with anyone. If they become separated from me they were always to look for a mom with a stroller (really I wanted them to approach the stroller, it is easy for even young children to identify). My kids are now 11 and 15 so there are few issues about them getting lost now and not being able to identify someone that can help them.

        Now I disagree with the statement above about having the kids look for an individual in uniform. Trying to locate someone in a uniform could take precious time away from a reunion. Someone in a uniform is not always around and a uniform is not always easily identified as a uniform. If lost in a mall how would a child identify a worker from any other individual?

        Just an example of the degree of difficulty in identifying someone in uniform would be a worker at an amusement park. Disney World has different uniforms for each section of the park and for the job that they perform. Identifying a stroller and an individual pushing it is a far easier task for small kids.

        Personally, I believe that kids should approach someone with a stroller and ask that person to help them locate the person they have been separated from. The child should be taught to stay in the area that they last remember seeing the person they were with and to tell the person that they are seeking help from that they need to stay in that area and to bring help to them.

        My mom always taught my sister and I to stay where we last saw her and to ask lots of people to help. We were to hold on to something and not leave that spot but to make it known that we were separated from her. My sister at age 5 became separated from my mom at an art fair. She wrapped her arms around a street sign post but failed to ask for help. An officer happened upon her and stood near her but did not try to remove her from the area or engage her in conversation. She was probably separated from my mom for less than 10 minutes and retraced her steps and found my sister being guarded by the officer. He explained to my mom that my sister had stayed calm and that he did not want to remove her from the area but would have if no one had come back for her in the next 10 minutes. My sister was very relieved and cried for several minutes. I think the officer did the right thing and my sister sorta followed my mom’s directions.

        When I find a lost child I do not try to remove them from the area that I found them. I ask them to stay with me and then I ask everyone around me if the child is with them and if the child is not could they go and get someone that works in the area to help. If I am at the park I ask several adults to stay with me and the child and I call the authorities. We live on a main street with several fast food restaurants next door or across the street and have often had lost children end up in our yard. I will have them sit on the porch with me while I call and together we wait for the authorities to show up. I will never, never be alone or be accused of walking away with a child that is not my own.

        All the talk of sexism is really odd. Just the idea of being upset about telling kids to find one gender over the other when you are trying to teach your kids to help themselves in a bad situation is just silly.

        • Andrea H.
          February 21, 2013

          I agree Deanna. The simple fact of the matter is that statistics don’t lie. The vast majority of violent crimes in our society are perpetrated by men. THAT IS NOT TO SAY ALL MEN ARE BAD OR EVEN MOST MEN ARE BAD! Most of the men I know are very good men and excellent fathers. I think you could use an example of a kid who is lost in the store. Many people might think they’re doing their duty if they dropped them off at the service desk and went back to shopping. A mom with kids is most likely going to stay and make sure someone comes to collect the kid and that that person is in fact his/her parent. The empathy is there b/c that is what you would hope someone pray someone would do for you.
          I urge everyone to read “Protecting the Gift” regarding child safety (and “The gift of Fear”-that one is for women), by Gavin DeBecker, it would dispel a lot of misconceptions out there. These books are the most empowering I have ever read. I have learned that I can be fearful of every little thing out there wondering all the time if some danger is just around the bend, or I can find out what is true regarding child safety. I can get pretty anxious about these things and this book has given me a great sense of peace and relief that I as a mom can trust my instincts, be proactive, unafraid to stand up for myself and my kids despite the fear of being thought of as a you know what. The book is overflowing with great information and suggestions. It has truly changed my life for the better. I have bought numerous copies and given them out for many years now. And as always-TALK TALK TALK to your kids. Once is not enough. They need regular reminders.

  • Jenny
    September 11, 2012

    Actually, there ARE people who will offer to babysit just to be nice and for other reasons:

    1)as a ministry to you to have a date night with your husband
    2) as an opportunity to teach their children about babysiting, yet in a supervised situation
    3) people (like me in my 20′s) who longed to someday be married and value all the time my married w/children friends allowed me to “practice” on their children. Thanks to them, my own firstborn 14 years later did not seem like my first born, but like my 5th or 6th and I received compliments on being so relaxed and not edgy about everything.

    By the way, I don’t think that you are creepy like others have said. WE could let ourselves be scared out of our minds about people…

    There are some gems though! I love the one about Adults ask adults for help!

    • H
      September 16, 2012

      I completely agree with you. I was a little put off that is said “no one wants to babysit your kids for free, just to be nice.” There are some of us that do. And we have no sinister intentions with children. If I know you are in a tight spot with money, or there’s stuff going on in your life that is a little crazy and a night out might do you good, I’m going to offer to watch your kid for you. (Granted I know you or someone in your family.)

      I’m a teacher, was a nanny for 3 years, ran a bible school for years… there are people out there that out of kindness will offer to watch your kids for you and are safe.

      Just wanted to throw that out there and add to what Jenny said. :)

  • Jenny
    September 11, 2012

    Oh, and I have defined “stranger” as someone that mama (me) has not met before. So, a man introduces himself to you and so is no longer a stranger?
    Stand up, come to me and ask me if I know him. If I don’t know him, he is a stranger.

  • J
    September 12, 2012

    I highly recommend the Safe Side videos!! If you haven’t tried them you should. It is some of the same concepts – no stranger stuff – but teaches kids what they need to know in any situation. And it’s hilarious too – my kids LOVE watching it and have learned so much that I have seen them apply as well!

  • mamak
    September 18, 2012

    People can be offended all they want but the fact is adults who molest children go to great lengths to seem like that harmless cousin playing with the kids. It’s worth being cynical to protect our kids, period. The consequences of not protecting them are too horrible and the damage is irreversible.

    Thanks for such a great article! There is a lot of good advice here. I will definitely share with other parents.

    Here is an article for those that think the author is being paranoid or discriminatory.

    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/09/24/120924crat_atlarge_gladwell?mbid=social_mobile_FBshare&t=Jerry+Sandusky+and+the+Mind+of+a+Pedophile+%3A+The+New+Yorker

    • Becky
      October 13, 2012

      I agree that sexual abuse is horrible, but “being cynical” and teaching kids that the world is a bad place, that no one should be trusted, that no one wants to be nice just because they are a nice person? Well that’s a horrible thing too. And frankly, as a society, embracing these kinds of attitudes about one another causes many large problems compared to the relatively low number of abuse cases they actually prevent.

  • vikingwife25
    September 23, 2012

    Thank you for posting this. I have a DD who is two and was getting harassed by family and friends for teaching the correct names for genitals. I know she is two but my husband works with a lot of men and I trust them but don’t trust them. This makes me feel a little bit better that I took the time to be correct. Now I just have to teach her not to shout them out randomly in public.
    Also, may I ask how you put the black bar over their eyes?

    • checklistmommy
      September 23, 2012

      Hi Vikingwife –

      I use PicMonkey.com to edit all my photos. It’s free and simple simple simple.

      And good for you for sticking to your guns!

  • [...] section of a blog I read regularly – it led to this post from Checklist Mommy and is called “‘Tricky People’ are the New Strangers”.  If you need a place to start, start [...]

  • Anna
    September 24, 2012

    Is it really a rule that no one wants to babysit your kids just to be nice? I work at a church, and several “grandmas” have offered to babysit my baby. Occasionally I will leave him with one of them. Should I be worried?

    • checklistmommy
      September 24, 2012

      Anna, trust your gut. If you are comfortable leaving your child with someone, chances are, your child will be fine. The point is more to be WARY of offers for “free help” and listen to your inner warning bells, if they ring.

  • Sarah
    September 25, 2012

    I love this article. It’s such a great idea! My kids definitely think that once they know someone’s name that they are not a stranger anymore. I think relabeling to ”tricky people” is smart. Thanks for great advice!

  • [...] read this recently and it rocked my world.  I’ve since told my kids that strangers aren’t the [...]

  • Patti
    September 26, 2012

    I never leave comments, but just wanted to say how great this advice is. Thank you for sharing!

  • [...] one more excellent article on safety: Tricky people are the new strangers: “Stop telling your kids not to talk to strangers. They might need to talk to a stranger one day. [...]

  • lilia
    September 30, 2012

    I think that this a a great *guideline* to use when teaching your kids about safety. But I also don’t think that every ‘strange adult cousin’ who hangs out with the kids rather than with the adults sometimes during family gatherings is necessarily a serial killer/child molester. Nor the adult who offers to babysit for your kids for free (that is, if you know this adult…). I have on several occasions hung out with the kiddos rather than drinking, and I have on MANY occasions babysat for free for families in my church who I knew couldn’t afford to pay me and I knew desperately needed kiddie free time. I happen to enjoy blessing my friends; by watching their kids at a gathering Or offering child care. And I am most certainly NOT a serial killer or child molester. I’m a preschool teacher. Parents need to use good judgement when it comes to their kids. Because not every weird adult or relative is a child molester, but some certainly may be. Just use caution. And I also think its a GREAT idea to make sure your kids ask you before go anywhere with ANYONE.

    • Kyle
      October 2, 2012

      The article doesn’t say anyone is “necessarily” a serial killer/child molester. Providing counterexamples means nothing. Exceptions prove the rule, and the idea is to err on the side of caution.

  • AnotherMom
    October 1, 2012

    Wow, some really grouchy and weird comments. Sensitive issue I guess.
    I’ve lost my son once in a department store for 15 seconds. I had taught him to stop, not walk around, and yell as loud as he could. I found him myself. As a rule he cannot go out of sight, he’s very careful not to go where he can’t see me.
    We do talk to strangers while we’re out and about all the time but some really sound the alarms for my son, a normally very talkative and inquisitive kid will really clam up and freeze around some seemingly friendly people. His alarms will go off before mine every time.
    I will teach him about ‘tricky people’, trusting his instincts, and finding kids with their ‘parent’ to ask for help.
    It’s nice we can all make our own decisions about how to raise our children and what we teach them.

  • Sandy
    October 2, 2012

    I agree with most of the points in this article, but some is a tad far fetched. Maybe the “adult cousin who isn’t drinking wih the grown ups” doesn’t like to drink and really just likes entertaining the kids.

    I say this because my husband has social anxiety and at family gatherings he enjoys entertaining my kids and his nephews. There is not a creepy bone in that man’s body. There are more signs of “tricky people” than the guy that’s playing innocently with the kids. Now if he is focusing on one child and disappearing from sight for an unknown amount if time, perhaps check it out.

    Other than that segment that rubbed me the wrong way, I liked this post. I also have told my kids that no adult ever needs a kid’s help and to find a mom with kids if in trouble. I thought that was just plain common sense parenting, I had no idea someone taught these ideas.

    I think one of the most important thing we can do as parents is teach our kids there are no secrets and instill self worth and esteem in our precious treasures so they aren’t targeted and become victims. Tricky people prey on those they assume have no voice. Confidence is key.

  • Carla Ludbrook
    October 3, 2012

    My 10 year old son and his friend were asked the other day by a woman to help her get her dog back into her house as it had escaped. They helped her. All innocent – BUT what if it wasn’t? Here we have an example of an adult asking a child/children for help!!! What to do???????

    • Whozat
      March 22, 2013

      Say, “No, my Mom doesn’t let me help grownups / go with grownups without her permission.”

      The non-creepy person will say “Good for her and good for you for listening!”

      The creep will try to talk them into it.

  • stephanie
    October 4, 2012

    very good article, very informative :)

  • Warren
    October 5, 2012

    Great article, some sound advice. Unfortunately still somewhat supportive of not trusting men. As a father of two daughters, I do find that insulting and quite dangerous.
    Based on pure nature males are the physically stronger of our species. Also that big man with kids, me, would more likely be able to defend or protect a child at risk, right there and then, if needed.

    You want to really help your kids. My kids were always taught that if they were ever in danger to yell “Fire!”. People respond to it, where alot of people are inclined to ignore a yell of “Help”, because kids yell that all the time while playing. It works.

    • Kyle
      October 12, 2012

      Why is it so easy for you to accept that men are more often stronger than women but so hard for you to accept that men are more often sexual predators? You say you’re insulted by the singling out of your sex but in the very next sentence do the same thing yourself.

      And how do you know yelling fire works? Have your kids ever tried it while they were in danger? If I heard someone yell fire I would be confused by the lack of fire, and may be disinclined to help because of the deception. Yelling fire might also direct people to run away from you instead of towards you. I too have heard that advice though. People used to say you should yell fire instead of rape if you’re being raped. I’ve yet to hear about a case in which this yielded positive results.

  • Wierdy
    October 7, 2012

    Whilst I agree there are some good ideas and the article has the best intentions, as a full time stay at home father I find some of this premise insulting!

    I AM that father in the shopping centre with two kids, I am THAT father playing with the kids in the garden! My online nick name is as you see Weirdy, I am a qualified lecturer/teacher! So does this instantly make me a Peado?

    We fathers in childcare have enough predudice to deal with in this world, baby change only in LADIES toilets for example! Other parents in the more traditional sense put off by the father at home? The Social stereo types and gender assignments of the more traditional family are no longer the ‘standard’.

    So You have a married gay male couple, they wish to adopt a baby girl! How does this make you all feel? I guarantee poeple will not like the idea… Especialy if they are teachers! ;)

  • Mrs.Soanso
    October 7, 2012

    “white slavery”? Sounds a little racist. Just saying.

    That being said, the advice itself is pretty sound.

  • Lauren
    October 7, 2012

    I really enjoyed reading your information as well as the thoughtful thread of comments!

  • [...] the New Strangers By Nikki On October 11, 2012 · Add Comment The article below, written by Checklist Mommy, is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time.  As a parent, we teach our children [...]

  • J
    October 12, 2012

    While telling your kids that other parents are “safe” might be a good last resort if they’re lost, predators tend to lie about having children to lure other kids into a false sense if security. So, if “parents with visible kids” are safe, a child might then think “parent who says he/she needs helping finding their child” is safe. I do agree that stranger danger needs to be changed. Some of these ideas are okay. It makes me sad, thought, that it’s gotten to a point where no child can have or trust any adult outside of mom and dad.

  • [...] are some genius ideas about talking to kids about strangers (aka “tricky people”)—I hope I remember these in about [...]

  • CJS
    October 13, 2012

    Lots of good suggestions, but NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS TO BE NICE…. bit of an overstatement. Sure exercise caution, but I baby sit my friends’ kids …to be nice…. I want them to be able to spend time with their spouse…that would otherwise be impossible.. Thanks for the insinuation of being a pedophile..

  • Thanks for sharing all of this great information. It is so appreciated and I will for sure be sharing with more friends!

  • [...] read parenting articles and blog posts on talking to young children about strangers or “tricky people“, a new term used to identify people who may  not seem strange at all but may be very, very [...]

  • [...] was reading this post over at Checklist Mommy about how “Tricky People are the New Strangers” and it was a clear reminder that we all need to have regular chats with our kids about safety and [...]

  • Bernadette Marie
    October 15, 2012

    This is GREAT! Thank you. I’m passing it on! I am a mother of 5 (and am an author.) and a 2nd degree black belt. My kids are all black belts (almost all of them) But it is good to continue to educate them that yes…sometimes you do need strangers. But to pay attention to how others are being strange. Thanks for this!!!

  • shawna [of styleberryBLOG]
    October 15, 2012

    This is an excellent article, and I am going to share over on my facebook business page. Thank you so very much for these thoughtful ideas.

  • Mark
    October 16, 2012

    Thank you for this site! Are there any good resources – kids books or kids DVDs that discuss “tricky people”?

  • Mark
    October 16, 2012

    I have that book. It deals mostly with appropriate touch. I am looking for another book or DVD that covers strangers/tricky people.

  • Olive
    October 17, 2012

    I do agree with most of these, but the one about the cousin who soends his time in the yard playing with the kids instead of drinking- not so much. My husband would rather play baseball with the kids than sit in the kitchen and deal with the drunks- he is not a creeper, and for some reason kids flock to him, all kids, everywhere we go. Of course then again my husband never wants to be alone with the kids he is always trying to get everyone to come play baseball (or whatever else the kids are doing)- part of that I am sure is that he doesn’t want to grow up lol. I agree it is a good idea for parents to always watch their kids no matter who they are with, it isn’t right to make someone who isn’t into the drinking and drama into a monster.

    • Kyle
      October 17, 2012

      Jerry Sandusky also had kids flock to him and didn’t want to grow up.

  • Concerned
    October 18, 2012

    Just to add a little to think about ….I was abused by my uncle. I have lots of uncles all of which played with us regularly. We loved it. The ONE uncle that abused us would play with us and seem to get lost in fantasy. We were there but he was in his own world, if this makes any sense. I think there are those who play for the enjoyment and entertainment of children and those that play for themselves. The latter is the one that concerns me. For instance he would play video games and put on sunglasses and gloves to play Top Gun by himself. Everyone laughed at him, but he wasn’t doing it to be funny. He is a very highly educated, well liked man. No signs of an obvious social disorder. When he would get caught up in his fantasy is when we would get hurt. I don’t think every person who plays with children instead of sitting around with adults is an abuser, it scares me that people may think this, as children need adult attention so badly. Please people don’t quit volunteering or spending time with other’s children due to fear of being looked at as an abuser. It takes a village to raise a child and the parents that make learning and games fun for kids are so important. Can we narrow the warning signs a little as to not turn people away. What are some more specific signs?

  • corrie
    October 20, 2012

    This is really great information and I am so glad that this conversation has come up again. I got an 18 year old and a 12 year old and in that time between there was not too much talk about it. I was nearly taken by a stranger as a child so I have given much thought into it. I like the idea of finding a mom with kids to get help from but I think it is quicker and better ( especially in a mall or a place with lots of stores) if we teach a child to go to the closest store and ask the clerk for help. What we want as parents is our children to get help quickly and I can see a poor child wandering around for a while searching for a mom with kids.

    If perhaps there is a creepy looking person at a park, as a parent we can approach and speak nicely about the weather or some other small talk. If that person has bad intentions they will not like you getting a good look at them and will find a way out of the conversation and out of the park.

    I love love love that you said ‘NO ONE WANTS TO LOOK AFTER YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE’! haha, so true.

    If it is too good to be true then use the word no. In fact you can say no without explaining yourself either! You have that right as a parent; even to teachers and coaches who present things ‘for the good of the child’. If either finds that offensive and/or you feel uncomfy around them then you know that person is not someone you want your child around.

    Anyways, glad the conversation is starting again. :D

  • Michelle
    October 21, 2012

    I like this way of dealing with the “fear” rather than the “trust no one EVER” approach.

    Lots for me to think about and discuss with my daughter in the future! Thanks!

  • Gillian S
    October 23, 2012

    This is so sensible, and very much what I’ve always said. If we teach our kids that every person is potentially harmful, we’re emotionally disabling them because there ISN’T a harmful person on every street corner, waiting to hurt them. Yes, there are dreadful people in the world, and I’m not playing that down. There are awful, malevolent people who have no sense of ethical behaviour, and might harm a child. However, this is rare, and the vast majority of people are NOT like that.

    The only bit of your article that made me a bit uncomfortable was this:

    “NO ONE WANTS TO BABYSIT YOUR KIDS JUST TO BE NICE.”

    …..I’ve offered to babysit my friends’ children on a number of occasions. For no money. Just to be nice. I’m a mother myself, and know how hard it can be to budget for a babysitter as well as the costs of a date.

    I’m not an abuser.

    Honestly, I’m not.

    • Abigail
      October 24, 2012

      Gillian,
      I totally agree, she made some awesome points but I have offered to babysit friend’s kids many times, especially ones who I know don’t get a chance to get out on a date night every once in a while.

      • ForTheLoveOfVegetables
        October 28, 2012

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who was a bit put off by that part of the article. I *AM* the cousin who is outside in the yard playing with the kids or offering to babysit for free. I have fertility problems and may never be able to have children of my own so I enjoy taking time to spend with my nieces/nephews and friends’ children. Not because I’m some creepy person who wants to harm them but because I genuinely enjoy getting to run around the yard or make crafts with them, knowing these are things I may never experience with children of my own. Not everyone who loves children or enjoys spending time with them is some horrible, deviant person.

  • [...] night I stumbled upon a pin, that took me to a blog, Checklist Mommy and the first paragraph had me [...]

  • Jena
    October 25, 2012

    What a great list! I found this on pinterest, and I am talking to my kids about this. Thanks.

  • Lisa B
    October 25, 2012

    Another way to tell who is a stranger:
    anyone your parents do not have dinner with. Ie. soccer teammatesparents , school mates parents, not friends of the FAMILY, if they don’t come to your house for dinner.

    Tricky people are also ones dressed out of season, shorts in winter, heavy coat in summer. If they do not know how to take care of themselves, they do not care about theirselves, and so not care about others either.

  • Home For Sale North Carolina
    October 25, 2012

    It is so true that you cannot trust anybody in today’s time. I feel so frustrated at the people who use such cheap tricks to fool little children. Parents must actually guide the children against these tricksters and dreadful strangers.

  • Beka
    October 27, 2012

    Great info! Something else I’ve always told my son for when we are out in public (a mall, amusement park, etc…), if we get separated briefly, call for me using my first name. If there are 100 people in a space, 50 of them might be “Mom”, but only one or two will be “Beka” or “Rebekah”. Even if you have a common name (Jennifer, Michelle), there probably won’t be more than five in that area.

  • [...] please please please read this article about how tricky people are the new strangers. it is certainly eye-opening to ways we can continue doing our best in protecting our children. [...]

  • Bree
    October 29, 2012

    I thought this post was really informative. I didn’t finish reading all of the comments though, because I found a lot of them to be attacking and unhelpful. Sometimes, for the sake of our children, generalizations are necessary. I’m sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings. The bottom line is that parents should use their best judgement when it comes to their child’s safety, and if that means saying, “No thank you, I’ll take my kid to that exhibit myself,” then so be it. I personally have done a lot of free babysitting in my day, and I have never under any circumstance mistreated a child. That said, I think it is absolutely appropriate to

  • Bree
    October 29, 2012

    I thought this post was really informative. I didn’t finish reading all of the comments though, because I found a lot of them to be attacking and unhelpful. Sometimes, for the sake of our children, generalizations are necessary. I’m sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings. The bottom line is that parents should use their best judgement when it comes to their child’s safety, and if that means saying, “No thank you, I’ll take my kid to that exhibit myself,” then so be it. I personally have done a lot of free babysitting in my day, and I have never under any circumstance mistreated a child. That said, I think it is absolutely appropriate for a parent to politely deny my offer for their child’s safety.
    Approved list of adults = good.
    Asking parents before permission before going somewhere or doing something with another adult = good.
    Mommies with children in case of an emergency = good.
    If that offends daddies with children, then feel free to alter that rule for your own children. As for me, I’m very thankful to see this post.

    • Bree
      October 29, 2012

      *for permission. Sorry, my typos are pretty horrendous. /:

  • Mandi G
    October 30, 2012

    My husband is in law enforcement and worked Child Abuse for 2 years. The cases were heartbreaking. The majority of the cases were perpetrated by mom’s boyfriend or the step-dad. And yes, cousins, uncles, favorite friends of the family, etc. I would definitely concur with teaching the correct names for genitalia, no matter how much it embarrasses us, and always, always(!) believing your child whenever he/she feels funny or uncomfortable about a certain person. Thanks for the post!

  • TM
    October 31, 2012

    I do offer to babysit friends’ kids to give them the night off — so scratch the “NO ONE” line. I love volunteering with children of all ages, and I love hanging out with neighborhood kids in the park and chatting with them. So while I agree that people need to be aware of the neighbor, scoutmaster, relative, etc., who may do something, let’s not forget that there are adults who really do just enjoy kids. And while I know that adults who seek out alone time with a kid can be perpetrators, my friends who were abused as kids were almost all abused by family members, specifically older siblings.

    One thing I love about living in urban settings is that kids aren’t afraid of strangers like suburban kids are. They are safety conscious about which people they talk to, which block they walk on, and what behavior they should steer clear of, but they will talk with strangers because they are out and around people in a way that suburban kids aren’t with their big backyards and parents driving them everywhere. So kids in safe suburban areas aren’t even allowed to play in their own front yard, while city kids walk to the store on their own. And parents in the city will chat on a park bench and not mind when I chat with their kid by the swings, while even when I’m with my sister’s young kids suburban parents will look at me accusingly if I talk to their child. What do they think I’m going to do in the middle of a park with the kids I’ve got with me and a dozen families all around me? Sad.

  • Jenny
    November 1, 2012

    This is great advice. However, I have two issues with it. 1. I am usually the adult outside in the yard with the kids rather than inside with the grownups. I am not a child molester. No one drinks at family get-togethers, and the kids are more fun to hang out with to me. 2. I have often babysat for free just to be nice. Again, I am not a child molester!!
    I think this is a sad truth about deciding what’s safe and what’s not for kids. You don’t know if a person genuinely loves kids, or if they are acting that way because they love kids in a dirty way.

  • Jimmy Saville?
    November 1, 2012

    [...] Google the term 'tricky people', that's how I've explained people like that to my 5 year old. Tricky People Are the New Strangers Reply With Quote « Previous Thread | Next Thread [...]

  • Amy
    November 2, 2012

    Excellent advice, thank you. My boy is now 5 and I was wondering how to have this talk with him. On the way home from school the other day I mentioned something about “stranger danger” and then it was rappid question fire. “But what if it’s a kid I go to school with?” “But what if the stranger is a teacher?” “But what if I get lost and need to ask for help?” and he kept fireing away. Now I know what I need to tell him.

  • Kyle
    November 2, 2012

    For the masses of people taking issue with the warning signs because you exhibit those signs and yet you’re not a predator, please think this through a little more. Sexual predators are masters of avoiding detection. There are not going to be any rules that hold true for all cases. There isn’t going to be any litmus test that says this person is definitely a sexual predator and this other person isn’t. The sexual predators are going to take every precaution to seem just like you or me or any ordinary person.

    Yes, technically the article was inaccurate when it said no one wants to babysit your kids for free. Certainly it varies from babysitter to babysitter and from kid to kid. But I think it should be counted as a warning sign nonetheless.

    I too exhibit behaviors that I recognize as warning signs for sexual predators. I am a trained entertainer of children, so naturally I will be entertaining them at parties. Kids need good mentors and role models so I’ll play with kids when I get the chance. And I’m not gonna take offense when people become suspicious of me because I know it’s very difficult to know who the actual predators are. I understand that my pride is not as important as kids’ safety.

    • Emily
      November 5, 2012

      As a mom, I’ve got to applaud your statement: “my pride is not as important as kids’ safety.” I, too, have to remind myself not to be offended if another parent looks warily at me for smiling at their chid. You unfortunately almost can’t be too careful these days.
      As I always tell parents who say they don’t want to be overprotective of their kids, if you don’t adequately shelter your kids, no one will. So I have to go against my better judgment and let my untrusting cynic side conquer my naivety sometimes. It’s in the name of the best interest there is.

      @Checklistmommy: have you considered writing a post on the larger, more common stores’ Code Adam procedures? (if you’ve already done this, please forgive me for not knowing!) I was appalled a few weeks ago to learn of how inefficient Walmart’s Code procedures were, but at the same time, once my boys are a bit older (1 and almost-3 now) I plan to review with them where they go to if they get lost whichever store we happen to be going in to. (In our Walmart, and I would guess this is company-wide, I know a parent goes to the dressing room to have a Code Adam called. If a Walmart employee notices a lost child, they bring them there as well. )
      Thank you for this article!

  • balancedmama
    November 5, 2012

    You might also really enjoy the book, “Free Range Kids”. Not only is choc-full of advice like this about a number of safety issues, but it is also a lark to read. I laughed through the whole thing.

  • Rashad
    November 5, 2012

    fantastic put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t realize this.
    You should continue your writing. I am sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

  • Jenna
    November 12, 2012

    Wait, there are plenty of adults who would love to take care of your kids just to be nice. I think it makes sense to never leave your children with someone who you don’t know and trust, but if you have a relationship with them, then it makes sense to let them help you and your family out right?

    • Kyle
      November 14, 2012

      Sorry, but it’s not that simple. Sexual predators know they have to spend many years building trust, and they do. Jerry Sandusky certainly did.

  • Brandi
    November 14, 2012

    I just wanted to say that I am having a hard time reading the article because of the side bar that keeps scrolling with my screen…the one with the pinterest, Facebook, twitter, and several other social networking buttons on it. It is covering up many words on the left side of my screen where I can’t read it. From what I could read, it sounds like decent advice. I think I would also tell my child to call an ambulance because her mother is probably having a heart attack when she noticed her baby was gone. ;)

  • John
    November 19, 2012

    My friends have a similar tactic. They teach their kids that people with long hair are safe, but people with short hair are trying to be sneaky and camouflage themselves. It’s mostly true, too.

    To answer Brandi, the web is a hostile place these days, thanks to capitalists. My browser has blocked 8 tracking elements and 23 unwanted scripts on this page alone. I recommend getting Firefox 4 or later and adding the Ghostery, Adblock Plus, and NoScript plugins. Even with all that you’ll need to find a 4th plugin to stop Google from tracking you. I recommend Greasemonkey, since Google keeps intentionally breaking all the others.

    • Kyle
      November 21, 2012

      It’s mostly true? You think most people with short hair are unsafe? You’d have your kids placing their trust in some hairy crackhead instead of a well groomed lady or gentleman based on that outrageous rule. Mostly true, yeah right. Way to teach your kids to be hateful bigots for no reason.

  • [...] 1) Teach your children about “tricky people”, not necessarily strangers: Teach children to have a code word when ANYONE picks them up from school or church. If the person doesn’t know the code word, they NEVER go with them. Teach children to ask for a policeman’s badge, and not just trust someone because they are in a uniform, including UPS men, firemen, etc. (It is also vitally important to teach your children TO trust the correct safety personnel, so make sure you differentiate  between imposters and real service people) (Via the checklist mommy) [...]

  • Desaraev
    December 5, 2012

    I agree no adult should be telling there kids to keep secrets or go off somewhere without permission but I’ve baby sat for lots of my friends for free and watching them or going to the zoo doesn’t make you a creeper.

  • amber
    December 5, 2012

    I babysit for free. But that could be because I’m a mom so I understand.

  • Kristin
    December 13, 2012

    Informative article but I don’t agree with a couple points.
    1) A mom with children is not necessarily safe. Yes, many times she would be the safest option but there are plenty of abusive, ghetto, neglectful women with children out there who would not help a lost child.
    2) People do want to babysit to be nice. We have had other parents, friends and member’s of my husband’s church offer to watch our daughter for us. None of them have a hidden agenda. They are being NICE!

    • Kristin
      December 13, 2012

      *members

  • K from TX
    December 14, 2012

    Hey now. I’m an adult who helped raise my younger cousins from babyhood, and I still prefer to spend time with them in the yard than drink beer with the other adults inside. According to you, the adults should be suspicious of me?

  • Norah
    December 20, 2012

    From a mom with an almost two year old son, I really enjoyed reading this article/blog. I am have been starting to think of ways I can talk to my son in the future about his safety in regards to adults and the like. What I like most about this post is the comments, because there are also a lot of tips from other parents! This has helped me. I agree with the Mommy with Kids statement, and as one poster mentioned “dad with a stroller.” Another poster mentioned trusted adults, which is also great.. Uncle can take you to the washroom, but if his new girlfriend so-and-so wants to you need to ask if it’s OKAY.

    Also, nobody babysits your kids for free? I’ve seen many women offering to baby sit my son for free. Never. I trust one person to baby sit my son, and that’s his grandma (my mom.) nobody else will watch my son unless I feel 100% comfortable, and if that means nobody…Well, I stay home. Case closed.

    Also, the teacher thing? Yeah. There is a teacher-student relationship that needs to be respected and if my son’s teacher thinks he would really love this museum and says he wants to take him, well then I thank them for the advice and I’ll take him the next day he is out of school.

    In the END, every mother (and father) need to use their best judgement, and understand that these are helpful tips, and suggestions on how to help keep YOUR kids SAFE from potential threats. I don’t see anywhere this article being gender biased, or teacher are bad people, etc.

    This post has honestly made me feel a lot better about how I should talk to my son when he’s a bit older (I don’t think a toddler will understand just yet.)

  • H from Oklahoma
    December 30, 2012

    This article, while I know you were attempting to bring about new ideas for educating parents and children about predators, was heartbreaking to me.

    As a woman who had trouble conceiving her first (and only) baby, I can say for the longest time I have loved and adored kids. Kids have a beautiful way of looking at the world and any adult who enjoys the joy children bring and cannot have one of their own, wants nothing more than to enjoy a tiny ounce of the happiness they bring.

    Yes, I do get to know parents first and of course, I always make sure the parents are always included. I have worked in school systems, am I fingerprinted, and have several security clearances that I could not get if I had a blemish in my background. I have offered to babysit many times for free because I can understand, parents need a break sometimes and not all of them can afford a babysitter or have a relative nearby.

    I also know several wonderful couples who were never able to have children. Smart, positive, and great people who would make the world’s best parents. I would be honored to have my only child have those people involved in his life and expanding his mind in other ways.

    While I know you were trying to reiterate the point that most predators are people the children knew (I do believe this based on news articles and an unfortunate situation in my own family), I do not think you protrayed this in a healthy manner.

    Long story short, thank you for including childless people, infertile people who are great with kids and cannot help the fact they do not have any, in your witch hunt.

    • Desaraev
      December 31, 2012

      Bravo h from Oklahoma

  • BJ
    January 5, 2013

    I was googling “a stranger gave my kids alcohol” and found you — because my brother-in-law’s brother, who I have not seen in 30 years before last week, offered my teenage children (12, 14 & 16 — all girls) alcohol behind my back, saying, “I won’t close the door because that would draw too much attention.” My idiot sister is saying that this was all done “innocently.” I think not. I know probably most of the people who read your blog have younger children, but just note that this applies to older children, too. My kids thankfully told me as soon as it happened (and my 16 year old took a drink, thanks so much). This all happened one room away from me. Be aware of people you don’t know. Not necessarily “beware,” but definitely “be aware.” Now we’re being condemned for not having our girls around this jack*ss since this happened, because we’re so judgmental.

  • [...] than all strangers are bad. Considering most victims of abuse are abused by people they know. Tricky People Are the New Strangers Reply With [...]

  • Colette S @JamericanSpice
    January 10, 2013

    Pattie and I are of the same mind.
    I’ve never taught my kids about any strangers. I tell them about their own family, teachers, brothers and coaches!

    I’m so loving that woman!

  • Andrea H.
    January 11, 2013

    I didn’t read the comments, so if this is redundant, I’m sorry. A lot of these ideas are expressed in Gavin DeBecker’s book “Protecting the Gift”. It has statistical information that puts irrational fears to rest and makes you wake up and pay attention to the real dangers in this world. One thing he touched on was gun ownership. How many times have you sent your kids to another’s house without any idea if they have a gun or not? If an adult can be killed by an accidental firing (yes I’ve known someone whose gun was looked at by two friends and it discharged), then how much more can children be hurt? Also, this book will give you the guts to speak up. I sent my Kindergartener to a friends house for a bday party. The kid was in his class. Sweet parents and kid, I’d seen them all year, but I didn’t know their names. How could I be sure everything was as you hope it would be? I went back in and asked her if she had any guns in the house? She told me “no” and was impressed that I asked.
    I would add this book to your reading list. It is a MUST read! If nothing else, it will give you the guts to SPEAK UP when necessary and the peace of mind to trust yourself and listen to your own instincts. Powerful book. Also, ladies, his first book was called “The Gift of Fear”. Just as powerful and written for you. I’ve bought these books several times each b/c I’ve lent them out so many times. Really, really, really a must read. Thanks for the wonderful info on this blog. Invaluable and lifesaving. THANK YOU

  • Elizabeth
    January 18, 2013

    I actually teach courses to children about strangers! I always ask if strangers are bad. They always say yes. I concentrate a lot on telling them that not all strangers are bad, but we have to watch out. I tell them to look for grownups that they know and trust(mom, dad, relative, friend’s parent) or a grownup who is working. So if they are at the park and need help, don’t go to a stranger’s house, go to the gas station and ask the attendant.

  • savvysweet
    February 3, 2013

    As someone who was molested for several years by two different men, I can see a few holes in this information. It is good advice, but unfortunately there are times that you just wont be able to watch them 24/7. The worse attack I had was when I was over at a friend’s house. He actually attacked me while his daughter and I were in bed. I pretended to be asleep because I was too scared to do anything else. I would definitely say that children should be taught what is inappropriate touching and to know it’s OK to get loud and ward off someone who is touching them the wrong way.

    My husband and his brother were abused for years by their stepfather. He told the boys if they said anything he would kill their mother. Even when social services came to help them they lied because they were afraid for her life. We need to teach them what empty threats are and that it’s OK to talk to someone in authority to help.

    And, as a side note, I do offer to babysit all the time for no compensation. Because, I do love children and after what happened to me I am always looking for ways to help other children (currently pursuing my English Ed degree) and their parents. Everyone needs a break from time to time. I don’t think that should make me suspicious.

  • [...] recently read a parenting post that I hope you will take just a couple of minutes to read, titled “‘Tricky People’ Are the New Strangers.” The part that made me stop and think about how we are choosing to teach LM about strangers is [...]

  • Donna
    February 6, 2013

    While I’m not a mother or an aunt, I am an older sister as well as a multitude of other things that involve being around children and I really enjoyed this post. It had some really valuable tips, especially the idea of “tricky” people.

    I recently attended a lecture from the Council of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. The woman told us that she’s always told her children to seek out a “Grandma,” an older woman, especially one with children, if they were to get separated or lost.

    The college I attend has a few single mothers and their child/children who live on campus. Since I have a lot of free time, I’ve always offered to babysit their child(ren) for free if they need it; be it to work on homework or go to work, or even just for a little time for themselves.

    Now, while I have never and believe I would never do anything to hurt a child, I take precautions so that the opportunity for such never even happens (meaning, I don’t want to even give the appearance that something inappropriate could be happening). I stay in public places like lounges/living rooms. When babysitting on campus, I may have friends in the same public area hanging out.

  • [...] “Tricky People” Are the New Strangers (Lots and lots of comments!) [...]

  • Law vs truth
    February 8, 2013

    Great article!
    I would just like to add another spin on the abuse issue. It is at epidemic levels and sickly enough it is being done to our children via the legal system!

    Currently the Family Courts are legally abusing our children by giving them to the abusers! While the other parent ( usually the mother) is forced to work 2 or 3 jobs to pay the court ordered (child psychologist, guardian ad Litem, evaluators, child care, child testing, huge attorney bills, etc.) all in the name of trying to protect an innocent child which is being abused by the other parent. Babies being given custody to alcoholics and drug addicts, narcissists, abusers, etc. Now… Go read “Whores of the court” and learn why so many children are being Court ordered to actually be abused and how they do not allow the good parents testimony. Think $$$ … Keeping you and your child in the system until he/ she is 18 years old creates a LOT of $$$ for all the people the Judge has in his/ her INNER CIRCLE! And if you get a real messed up judge you will not only be ordered/forced to give your child to the abuser BUT YOU WILL ALSO BE COURT ORDERED TO PAY THE ABUSER CHILD SUPPORT !!!

    The world is sick, the courts are corrupt even with witnesses and photographs…nobody will care about your child but you in the end.
    If your case ends…a lot of people will lose years of YOUR hard earned $$$.

    Ohhhh…. And if you do not abide by the orders and child support…you do lose your drivers license for not paying and if you do not follow the orders, you are in contempt of court which could land you in jail and abuser gets full custody and you will rarely if ever be able to see your precious child.

    Economics or ethnic background does not play a part in this. There is a HUGE fathers rights movement for child custody which gets the abusers to get custody of their kids. The courts can not weed out the great daddies so they just pretty much give most of the kids to the dads just or the asking!

    And if daddy is a bad person and has $$$ that he hides and he gets custody of the child… You WILL be was washing out toilets as a 3rd job to pay him court ordered child support just so maybe you can get a glimpse of your abused or neglected child once a month if you’re lucky!

    How do you stop the abuser parent from driving drunk while he/ she has court ordered parenting time ? How do you stop the abuser parent from leaving a little child in a locked car at night while the abuser parent visits friends? How do you stop an abuser parent from emotionally and psychologically abusing your child? Chances are….you don’t… Because even if you try to go through the system (with photos, documents and witnesses) if NOTHING visible bad happened to your child …well then…a crime against your child was NOT committed. I could go on, but just be aware that parents who try to protect their children from an abusive parent often get abused by the same system they THINK was designed to protect them and in the end, the liar / abuser gets the child. Ohhh and if you think your child will have a say in the matter…NOT!

    Signed,
    Experienced

  • Daijobusa
    February 20, 2013

    Believe it or not but I did read EVERY comment. Wow! It was like a roller coaster. I was mad, thankful, confused, informed, and mad again, offended, shocked, pleasantly surprised, conflicted, nodded in agreement, then cycled back through all those emotions again. I’m exhausted! LOL But after reading all those comments…I had to give my 2 cents.

    I am a single father of two boys as well as a proud elementary school teacher. I understand why so many people felt “hurt” or offended that the examples of bad people had male pronouns. I’ve had people at the start of the school year demand a meeting with a principal so their child can be put into a female teacher’s room because they would feel safer. I TRY not to take it personally but it is impossible. The parents and their kids who that stick with me usually become life long fans and friends. I’ve been the teacher the kids come back to for advice. I can say, that to be an effective teacher caring is a must. Yes as a male teacher I realize that there is irrational prejudices. Now some have commented about statistics and blah, blah, blah…but it is irrational to assume that males, more often, have bad intentions.

    Anyway, I read comments that said, “get over your hurt feelings” and so on. I’ll call it how it is. Those comments are down right rude! Albeit that I understand the general idea of the article/blog post using EVERY single bad person as a male was ill-advised. One only needs to look at the news to see how many female teachers (for example) have been abusing male students. To see the news and see how many moms have killed their kids, or have pimped out their own daughters. Woman can’t complain that men aren’t involved in kids’ lives and then turn around and make men sole examples of bad in kids lives. Even if spoken in general terms. People don’t think that words matter but honestly they do. It would have been nice for the article to say “he/she” and so on. It’s so, so wrong to think that women know what is best for children and men don’t. As a single FATHER with two BOYS I know what is best for them. In closing…Celebrate men in kids’ lives. Don’t demonize and/or isolate them for kid’s lives. Don’t generalize and then claim it is done innocently. One only needs to substitute the male pronouns with racial ones and see how preposterous the same statements would sound.

    • Kyle
      February 20, 2013

      Your comment reminded me of this post: http://www.danoah.com/2011/01/mom-pushed-daddy-out-door.html

      • Daijobusa
        February 21, 2013

        I read your link. Thanks for sharing. I wrote my earlier reply yesterday and took a couple hours to think it through and scale it down. So many thoughts and feelings. But anyway, I read my post again and saw some typos. Oops. That’s the worst after saying you’re a teacher, so thank you for not missing what I was trying to say. Somebody will I’m sure.

        That link was interesting. I heard yesterday on NPR (concerning feminism) that it was suppose to help bring impowernment & equality to woman/mothers not crush the power of men/fathers. The fear expressed was that men are “damned if they do, damned if they don’t, which leads to apathy (paraphrased the discussion). If you’re a dad & speak up, you’re told you’re to sensitive. Anyway thanks again for the link.

        -Done on my iPhone. Hopefully not to many mistakes. The box is so tiny to write in. :P

  • Daijobusa
    February 20, 2013

    Checklistmommy~ I meant to say (in my unfortunately long post…sorry) that I was confused with what you wrote when you said that Patties’s work…doesn’t have to do with “daddy danger”. But then you wrote:

    “Pattie’s work — and my take on it — …. In THAT SITUATION, odds are, MEN ARE LESS SAFE TO YOUR UNSUPERVISED / LOST / CONFUSED / DISORIENTED CHILD.”

    Daddies are men. The term “less safe” is unbelievably vague. What social status, or racial makeup, or religious identification would be “less safe” to go to then others, in the “TERRIBLY UNLIKELY SITUATION”? I’m sure there statistically there would be a difference, if “statistics” are the only guide.

    You quoted, “You know who’s safe? A mom with kids. Period.” Then said that it was “Fantastic advice.” That is the root of the issues that people were having problem with. That a mom with kids is safe “Period”, when in fact that just isn’t true. It is impossible for it to be so definitive. You then said, “I finally got to meet the woman who’d said this brilliant thing”. The “period” part makes it so unbelievably sexist, I’m surprised you still find it to be so “brilliant”. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Hopefully it won’t be, it was a general guidelines time thing, because those statements (her’s and yours) were far from general, don’t you think?

    • mo
      February 21, 2013

      I think the important thing to remember is that the advice isn’t judging you, or dads, or even men: it’s about making it very simple for the lost kid by reducing the amount of guesswork involved. Lots of kids will assume a man is a daddy even if he doesn’t have kids with him, because that’s where our culture is at right now–daddies wander around without their kids on hand all the time, while it’s more common for mommies to have kids underfoot. It’s simple, it’s easy to a young kid to understand and remember, and a young child shouldn’t have to worry about bruising some guy’s fragile non-molesting ego when they’re lost at the mall and wondering who is and isn’t a parent.

      Like many of the earlier commenters, I’m the sort who’d rather hang out in the yard with the kids than in the kitchen with the adults, but I recognize that particular advice wasn’t a personal slight at us oddballs–it’s simply an ‘all fingers are not thumbs’ scenario. Not all adults who’d rather hang out in the yard are pervs, but most pervs prefer hanging around the kids, so it just makes sense to play it safe and keep an eye open–much more sense than bending to indignation from adults think being the exception to the rule means the rule itself is broken.

      • Kyle
        February 21, 2013

        Very well said. Thank you.

      • Daijobusa
        February 21, 2013

        While I found your reply agreeable at first, I couldn’t help but snicker and roll my eyes when I read the following:

        “…shouldn’t have to worry about bruising some guy’s fragile non-molesting ego”

        I found it strangely ironic that you couldn’t resist the urge to sarcastically attack men in your reply. Really? Was that necessary? How would it be if society weren’t worried about bruising the ego of women? For example I could say something outrageously ridiculous like “statistically women are more likely to be prostitutes than men, therefor to keep things simple, if a child is lost, they should avoid going to women on sidewalks, even if they have children, because of what they could be exposed to.” Then I could justify that statement by saying, “children shouldn’t have to worry about bruising some woman’s fragile non-prostituting ego”. Sound offensive? I’m throwing out your same logic. When daddies with kids are still an unsafe person to go to when a child is lost or in danger, then it’s not called “bruising and ego” it’s called sexist & discriminatory teaching. I’m sure though you don’t see it that way.

        Seems to me women find it a necessity to bruise male “egos” in order to make their points, but find it utterly offensive if a female’s ego is questioned. For example: Women furious over Dr. Pepper’s commercial for a drink for men only? So much fury over it, that it was all over the internet, blogs, Dr. Pepper’s Facebook page, petitions, and calls for boycotts. (All over soda) So why in your reply would you feel the need to say something completely condescending & unnecessary about a man, to back up your opinion?

        By the way you’re wrong on the “where our culture is at right now–daddies wander around without their kids on hand all the time” comment. Reports on NPR & other news stations, and studies by academics & economist alike, have stated that more and more men are the stay at home parent, raising their kids while the “mommies” are off building their career, nowadays. I don’t know what age you think you’re living in, but your assessment of today’s reality is biased and old fashion.

        In the end you completely missed my point. Checklistmommy and the person she quoted said, “Women are safer PERIOD.” As I plainly pointed out that is not true. Woman, including you apparently, have a double standard that you are blind to, when it comes to men. The rule IS broken if all the bad pervs are described as men, and all the safe good people are women. For all the lady statistic quoters out there, stop conveniently leaving out the statics of women and child abuse. It’s been around for a long time, from mom’s murdering their children, to nuns in Ireland enslaving & abusing girls in a laundry factory.

        Indignation, by the way, isn’t wrong when discrimination is noticed. Where would feminism be with out indignation AND bruised egos? How many moms would be willing to admit that dads know and are capable of knowing, just as much about raising children as moms? Or would that be bruising moms’ egos? As if women, once they become moms are graced with an all-knowing perfectness to parenting and dads remain clueless. Keeping the “issue of safety” simple for children shouldn’t come at the risk of teaching discrimination and the demonization of men. Children are capable of intelligent thinking, unless taught otherwise. This perpetual bruising of women’s egos when they hear someone say, “ A woman can’t do a man’s job” and the utter hypocrisy when women insist, “a man can’t do a woman’s job of raising kids as effectively” is tiresome, and clearly reflected in many “mom blogs” and child raising advice gurus. Updating the language to include things like “he/she” in situations like Checklistmommy’s safety post and her so-called “Brilliant” safety guru, would go a long way to catching up to more modern times. Besides with the swiftness of reports of the amount of female teachers and mothers aggressively soliciting male children for sexual gratification, & mom’s stalking and bullying other children in social media, the idea that men are MORE capable of abusing children, seems more like denial by women, that they can be just as frequently evil as men. The old phrase, “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander” seems strangely appropriate. Sadly, I feel that the good points of the “article” above, can be overshadowed by the permissiveness of vilifying men/daddies.

        • mo
          February 21, 2013

          You seemed to run off the rails a few times (Dr. Pepper?), so I’m only addressing the parts that seem relevant to this discussion.

          1) I was not being sarcastic, and I was not attacking men. I said ‘some guy’ because the offense seemed to be that telling children to approach ‘mommies’ was insensitive or insulting to men.

          You can replace ‘some guy’ with ‘some person’ if you’d prefer, since I say the same to the ‘weird adult cousins’ of both genders in the second example: it’s not about protecting adults from having their feelings hurt because “Hey, I’m a daddy and I’m safe!” or “Hey, I’m a weird adult cousin and I’m safe!” or “Hey, I’m a soccer coach/part-time babysitter and I’m safe!” It’s about recognizing situations which are statistically more risky, and facing them realistically.

          2) Your point seems to be that you’re offended children are being told to find a mommy with kids, because it hurts your feelings as a perfectly safe male. Statistically, most males are going to be perfectly safe. But statistically, a mommy with kids is a safer bet in that scenario where a kid is lost in a public space. You ever tried wrestling two kids and a stroller into a bathroom stall? (Yes, that one was sarcasm.)

          3) Statistically, women are more likely to be prostitutes, but statistically, small children are less likely to get lost in red light districts. They are also unlikely to find themselves randomly surrounded by abusive nuns, at least outside of certain scenarios. I’m not offended by your counter-arguments, because they’re not countering anything–you’re offended, you’re hurt, you’re lashing out at womankind for casting doubts on your character. But prostitutes and nuns and Dr. Pepper have nothing to do with a lost kid.

          A better argument: statistically, women are more likely to murder their own children than men are (if I remember those stats right). But this argument also falls down, because it’s about domestic violence in the perpetrator’s own home, and this advice is about lost kids in public places.

          4) I specifically said “the advice isn’t judging you, or dads, or even men,” because I’m not going to claim to speak for previous commenters in previous comment threads. But I’ll repeat it: the advice is not casting doubt on your character. It is not saying that all men are child molesters. It is not saying that men can’t be trusted, or that men are evil.

          The advice is saying that, statistically, a kid lost in public is less likely to be dragged into a bathroom by a woman lugging around a stroller and two kids of her own. A kid lost in public is less likely to be dragged to a waiting car by a woman who has to stop and strap her own kids in first.

          5) The NPR is reporting a rise in stay-at-home dads precisely because it’s not the norm–it’s still the exception rather than the rule. I welcome that rule changing and men finding it less socially problematic to be stay-at-home parents, but we’re not there yet, and admitting that is not the same as ranting that men are inferior or that we must enforce strict gender roles, or (to tie it back into this discussion) that men can’t be trusted around kids.

          Telling a kid to look for a mommy with kids is NOT the same thing as telling them that daddies are out to get them. It’s not denigrating men. And kids are intelligent, but they’re not going to perform the mental gymnastics involved in getting to ‘men are evil’ from “Find someone else’s mommy and ask for help.”

          6) Children are capable of intelligent thinking. Child abusers are capable of manipulating children. Simple advice that points a 3-year-old toward someone who’s statistically less likely to drag them into a restroom and abuse them always, always trumps asking a 3-year-old to worry about not hurting that nice stranger’s feelings, because he says he’s a daddy and he seems to be a good person. Small children are smart, but they shouldn’t have to navigate the adult gender politics just because they get lost in the mall.

          • Daijobusa
            February 22, 2013

            Nice way to start your response. I complete expected you to try to make me look bad, and you level headed. You’re the one who brought up “bruising” male egos. Dr. Pepper was an example of hoards of women taking offense to anything that might even come close to bruising egos. So going off the rails…no. But I didn’t expect you to humble yourself and admit that your comment was completely condescending to men. However I did expect you to make the exact same mistake I said needed to be corrected. You automatically said, “male ego”. Later in your response you said substitute it with “person’s”. Well my point was, why say “male” in your comment in the first place? You couldn’t see that as condescending. So it makes me smile knowing that your very response legitimized my original point. It’s not necessary in these discussions to make the males the sole examples of bad.

            Trying to turn my opinion into me simply having hurt feelings is a copout. Not addressing the discriminatory offense is the easy way out.

            Now lets use your logic again and see if you’ll get it this time. (not expected though) You said “statistically” it is not likely a child would get lost in the red light district. Well statistically the chances of a child being grabbed by a strange man and “pulled into a bathroom stall” is low. But even lower still and HIGHLY unlikely is a daddy with multiple kids out in public grabbing a kid and abusing them. (For the record, I said I’m a single dad…you missed that, so yes I’ve wrestled strollers into stalls before.) You TRY to use statistics as your rock solid evidence, but as someone clearly pointed out earlier the statistical difference between a strange woman grabbing a child and a strange man grabbing your child is soooooo tiny that it is pointless to go the extra mile to demonize men in the process. Yes! That’s what is done here. When every example from strangers to relatives are “male” and bad….it’s teaching discrimination. Yes statistically mommies are more like to abuse and murder their children. Just like statistically a relative or close friend is more likely to grab and abuse children, not strangers. Would you agree that parents are “always safe period”…statistically? Well statistically a lost child has a better chance of getting help from a parent with kids out in public, then someone with out kids. Yes or No? Then why go out of the way to tell children don’t go to daddies aka: men with children or strollers, because mommies are ALWAYS safer PERIOD? You tell me the statistic of men who are out in public with “children” (that’s more than one child) who grab children who aren’t their own and abuse them in bathrooms or other places? “Checklistmommy”, you and the others make a grave mistake pretending public mommies are safer than public daddies period!

            Now tell me Mo, how would you argue statistics if you were to read that a statistically blacks are more likely to be in jail for violent & sexual crimes? Would you end up telling a child that statistically you should avoid asking black people for help? That would be utterly Ridiculous. People use statistics as a cover to argue their point, instead of looking at issues with more intelligence. You can pull statistics in any direction you want. The U.S. government does it all the time, using the same statistics against each other, trying to prove the other wrong. As I said before (which clearly you purposely ignore) saying “mommies are safer PERIOD” is flat out wrong. Since mommies and daddies (aka: men & women) with children are statistically EQUALLY less likely to abuse random lost children. Since the statistics are so unbelievably low that a male parent would abuse a random child, then why go the extra mile to teach children that daddies out in the world are not safe to go to? Why? Avoid daddies and go to mommies? That IS the advice. Even men with “children” out in public!! ??? (“children” being more than one child in case you missed that point.) You can roll the statistics over in your mind on a Male with multiple children out in public abusing other’s children. Of course your convenient come back for that will be that “daddies are ALWAYS out in public with out their kids. You are the epitome of woman right, man wrong, the example of the female bias against men when it comes to parenting. You and the others can’t allow your egos to be bruised enough to admit that a male with multiple children out in public (i.e.: a daddy) is just as safe as a female with multiple children out in public. It hurts too much to admit it, so you all come up with some statistical argument of “A” male sexually abusing a random child more often then “A” female sexually abusing a child to light your torch of sexism/bias. When even you Mo, can’t admit that, that statistic has no connection to the real argument that it is safer to tell a kid to go to mommies with kids in public, instead of daddies with kids in public. Apples to oranges. You said the statistic of mommies murdering and abusing their kids falls flat because that is domestic. Well your statistical argument falls flat because your arguing one male abuser vs. a daddy with kids out in public. It was wrong and is wrong to pretend mommies are ALWAYS safeR and daddies might not be. And you’re wrong for not agreeing with that.

          • mo
            February 22, 2013

            Tosh. It wouldn’t matter how I started my response. That you’re angry and looking for someone to fight with isn’t a cop-out, it’s simply obvious, starting with the fact that you expect me to answer for “Mommies are always safer, period” when you’ve decided it means “Daddies are unsafe, period,” rather than, “[Simply put,] Tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees [instead of telling her to avoid strangers or look for someone in a uniform].”

            I said the advice itself was just about making it simpler for a lost kid to find a safe person; you responded with a tirade that invoked Facebook, nuns, soda, prostitutes, “a woman doing a man’s job,” and attempts to fix other people’s words on me.

            You brought up statistics. I said they weren’t the issue, except as relates specifically to the scenarios in question–I agreed that wrangling one’s own kids and an abducted child would be highly impractical. You’ve read into this that I’m saying men are more likely to abuse a random child than a woman would, except I said nothing of the sort.

            You’re reading into the original advice, and my comments, an argument you want to have about sexism. You’re reading into my comments the motive you want to assign me for this larger argument you want to have about sexism, i.e. you’ve decided I’m female, that I’m saying ‘daddies’ are unsafe, that I’m saying women are always safer, etc., along with the original blogger’s in-comment discussion, which happened in August and which I was not a part of.

            My point, again: the advice itself is simply about making it easier for a kid to find a safe person, and does not in itself say boo about men or daddies. I am not arguing that ‘mommies are always safer’. I’m arguing that mommies are more prevalent, more obvious to the average young child, and NPR be damned, more likely who the kid is temporarily separated from. I did indeed notice you’re a single father, but you’re still the rare bird–women are still more likely to be the primary caregiver, women are still more likely to be the ones pushing those strollers, and simple, clear-cut advice that sends that lost kid to an adult that can help isn’t the same thing as telling them, “But don’t trust men,” or for that matter, “Single people will eat you!”

            You’re projecting your own issues on this one.

          • Daijobusa
            February 22, 2013

            my reply below

  • Daijobusa
    February 22, 2013

    Wrong again. You want to keep the issue simple? Tell kids to find parents with kids when they’re lost, regardless if they are male or female. Telling a kid to seek out only one gender when they are lost and scared is complicating the solution. If a kid sees a woman with multiple kids- great, if they see a man with multiple kids – great. What is hard about that? No, instead lie to the kid and say mommies are always safer period. You, Mo, still can’t seemed to admit that is wrong. “Find the first mom with kids” complicates it. Then that kid has to go searching around for a MOM with kids, when any parent with kids is just as safe! Why can’t you and the others just admit that? If the “odds are” more moms are out in public great, but if the first safe place for that child to go would have been the nearest daddy with kids, why send that child off on a scavenger hunt for a mom?

    As far as all the other stuff I said, when you and others go on about statistics and men being less safe for kids, I have to counter. “Clear cut advice” would be to tell a lost kid to find a mommy or daddy.

    You said, “You brought up statistics. I said they weren’t the issue, except as relates specifically to the scenarios in question.” The statistics, Mo, don’t work in this “scenario” because as I clearly said, Men with kids in public are just as safe as woman with kids in public. So again, there was no point in you what you said.

    As far as projecting my my own issues, it’s not surprising you would say that. When you can’t prove what I’ve said is wrong, it is easier to say something like that. Near as I remember it (simply by reading up the replies) YOU replied to my opinion. You are the one who wanted to “find someone to fight with.” But I bet you did feel good thinking I’m projecting instead of considering what I said. Did you read the article above, the whole thing? Did you actually read what I wrote? Actually read? Take the rose colored glasses off and see it for what it is. The advice (not just a lost child) was be suspicious of men. Every single example were men. EVERY single on. That’s not me projecting issues….that’s me reading the words. “Be suspicions of the male teacher, the male coach, the male cousin, the male who gives gifts to your child”. That’s what it said. Never ONCE did it ever say to be suspicious of a female. You can try to keep it simple and say it was only about a lost child, but then you ignored the rest of it. If I’m supposedly “projecting” then you are practicing total denial, and read something completely different.

    • Kyle
      February 22, 2013

      “So it makes me smile knowing that your very response legitimized my original point.”

      Your response legitimized her original point (I’ll assume mo is female, as you did). She suggested that you were angry and had hurt feelings and a bruised ego and you seem intent on proving her 100% correct. We can all read your comments over and over again however many times you like and it just makes it more clear how incredibly angry you are.

      You continuously complain that your points aren’t being addressed, but you haven’t addressed the point that you’re looking out for yourself here and not the kids. Maybe men are just as safe as women and maybe they aren’t. But taking so much offense to the assumption that men might pose a slightly greater risk doesn’t do anything to help the kids.

      • Daijobusa
        February 22, 2013

        Kyle, yeah I admit I get angry at prejudice and discrimination. I get angry at sexism. I get angry when people allow discrimination of ANY kind to be taught to young kids. I feel upset when people excuse it away. You don’t? You’re OK with discrimination being taught & excused? That’s a sad state of society that people like you still don’t give a damn when comforting discrimination of ANY kind. Especially when it is being taught to kids under the idea of “safety”. But I do appreciate you at least admitting so.

        By the way, I am looking out for kids. Teaching them that daddies are not as safe as mommies is ridiculous. Clearly you didn’t read my comment when I said having a kid go on a scavenger hunt for a “mommy” instead of looking for a either a daddy or mommy is NOT a safe thing for kids. When a kid is lost and scared immediate help is needed. Not a gender scavenger hunt. How does that help kids? So the idea that you said “I haven’t addressed the point that I’m looking out for myself and not the kids” is soooo far off. It ranks up there with the denial that there is a bias against men being as safe and as good at parenting as a woman.

        As far as me some how proving that I have a bruised ego by stating my opinion that it isn’t good to teach kids that daddies are unsafe, is a stretch. You tell me, is it good to teach kids that? There is only two ways you can answer that Kyle…1) Yes it is and that proves I have a bruised ego for defending against that type of discrimination. 2) No, it’s not OK to teach that and I have a valid reason to say it’s not OK. Unfortunately you’ve backed yourself in a corner now. You’ll have to answer 1) and some how explain it away by pointing the finger back at me. I realize there are people like you, MO, and others that think discrimination is OK as long as it makes you feel safer. That some how teaching it keeps kids safer…but again neither one of you or “Checklistmommy” can argue the fact that when a kid is lost and scared going to a parent (male or female) with kids is a fast, safe thing to do. That going on a scavenger hunt for a specific gender parent is simple and safer.

  • Monica
    February 23, 2013

    As a teacher, I take offense to the comment about a teacher taking students somewhere. I work in a Title I school and many of my students have parents who work at night and on the weekends at minimum wage jobs, so my kids don’t get to go places very often. I’ve taken several students under my wing each year, provided food, clothes, outings to movies, the zoo, etc with no intention other than to help out. As someone who was sexually abused by a family member for many years growing up, it was often a teacher who was my saving grace and kept my faith in the goodness of people.

    • Daijobusa
      February 23, 2013

      Well said. I agree with you. (FYI: people will accuse you of projecting simply because they disagree with you.) I think the most powerful part of what you said was, “…it was often a teacher who was my saving grace and kept my faith in the goodness of people.” Those teachers who impacted you would be so proud to hear you say that.

  • Life with Kaishon
    February 23, 2013

    This was really great. Thank you for sharing.

  • Mom 2 boys
    February 28, 2013

    While I have never used the term “tricky people” with my kids, neither have I taught “stranger danger”. I’ve used the term “bad people”, and taught them that “bad people” come in all shapes and sizes, and just like that bad person was once a child with a mom & dad, maybe siblings and cousins, that person could grow up and BE a mom or dad, maybe an uncle or cousin. They are not supposed to go anywhere with anyone without mine or my husbands permission, even if it was ok yesterday, we need to know about it today also. The idea has never been to make my kids afraid of everyone, but to enforce the fact that “bad people” look just like us, live just like us, that’s how they get close to kids they might hurt.
    There is a Little Critter Book about getting lost at the mall, cute maybe, but talk about wrong, wrong, wrong! After we read it, I had to go through it again and reinforce what NOT to do. DO NOT go with a security guard into an office for example, if you get lost in a mall, go into the nearest store, talk to the person at the counter, STAY by the counter, and Mom or Dad can be paged to come to you.

  • Tab
    March 1, 2013

    Such great tips! I have forwarded this to my husband, so we can start implementing the term “tricky people.” I am also forwarding this to many friends. Thank you for giving great tips on keeping kids safe. I hadn’t even heard of the Mirmonte Elementary scandal until I read your article. How horrible! I can’t imagine.

  • Kate Wilkinson
    April 2, 2013

    SUCH a good read! So glad I read this as we enter the preschool age. Thanks for posting.

  • living4god
    April 9, 2013

    I am both a teacher and a mom. I have a daughter who is two and I am afraid of this evil world, for her. It is so sad that bad people have made such a bad rep for good people. Its just the fact that you cant really trust anyone in this fallen world. I love my students and care about them to the ends of the earth, as if they were my own. I would protect them from anything! Never in anyway would I want to hurt them AT> ALL… but knowing the world we live in, those teachers who took that title, just to fill their evil desires, have made a bad name for teachers! SAD! I do however, make sure I never put myself in a situation to even cause assumption. There is no reason for it. I get what you are saying about those bad people, who took on the title teacher. I too, wouldn’t mind babysitting for free, just to be nice. But… again if I didn’t have a close relationship with that family I probably wouldn’t offer! If someone is always asking to watch my daughter, for no reason, I would be very precautious, especially if I didn’t know them that well, like a coach! It so sad to me that anyone would even think to hurt our sweet innocent children and I would be the mom you don’t want to mess with!

    • Kyle
      April 9, 2013

      This world isn’t evil. Advice meant to help you keep your children safe isn’t an implication that a high percentage of people are predators. I suppose a good question is how scarce would predators have to be in order for you to lower your guard concerning your children. Would you abandon your safety measures with a person if there was only a one in a million chance of that person being a predator? What about one in ten million? Or one in a hundred million? Surely predators existing in such small numbers would indicate that this world isn’t evil at all. And if even in those cases you wouldn’t throw caution to the wind then I think you can acknowledge that there’s no reason to think we’re in a sad state of affairs just because you wanna be extra safe.

      • living4god
        April 9, 2013

        Thankful I have a clear understanding of whats going on around me. No need for me to argue with a fool. :)

        • Kyle
          April 9, 2013

          Are you calling me a fool? Why?

  • CanCan
    April 10, 2013

    I don’t agree with all of this, it paints me as a weirdo! I am a mom and I was formerly a preschool teacher. When my neighbors (and friends) adopted a baby, I offered to watch it ALL the time so that the new mom could go to the grocery store, etc. without getting the baby out of the house. Was I grooming the baby to molest it later? HELL NO! I was doing for her what I wished someone had done for me when I had little ones. I also loved giving gifts to my preschool students, not because I want to get in their pants, but because I like giving gifts.

  • Jen A
    April 14, 2013

    Some really good points here! Thanks for sharing!
    The only thing is… I do offer to babysit just to be nice & at Bible study kids do get special gifts…just because we care for them. So, those are situations that each person has to judge for themselves. I would hate to be looked at as a potential abuser just because of an act of kindness.

  • Kylie
    April 18, 2013

    Thank you, thank you thank you! As a mother of two – those two main tips that you have shared are priceless.
    My sister was with a man for two years, who for some reason I could not get my son to be nice to. You know how they say dogs and kids are often the best judge of character? Turned out he had been charged with interfering with his daughter from a previous marriage.
    Trust your instincts, and don’t dismiss rumours when it comes to your child’s safety. I’ve since then been told by a friend who is a top behaviourist for the domestic violence section of the police locally, that without a doubt she knows he was trying to groom our family.

  • [...] It’s a good idea to teach your children about “stranger danger,” but it doesn’t really cover all the dangers they could face from adults. Considering that most child abductors and abusers are actually not strangers, the conversation you should be having is about what blogger Checklist Mommy refers to as “tricky people.” [...]

  • Jessica
    April 24, 2013

    ok, so I am an adult 32 female and I would rather spend my time with all my really younger cousins than the ones my age. I love kids and don’t have any yet so I love to get my time in with the younger kids. I don’t feel comfortable with my cousins my age, they judge me for things ive done with my life, these kids don’t. They like me for me and not the decisions ive made. so just because an adult would rather spend time with the young kids doesn’t mean they are bad people and you should keep your eye on them. Its the ones that act weirdly around the kids, its not so weird that some adults prefer young kids to adults sometimes

  • Heather
    April 28, 2013

    I just found this article via a link and it’s very timely for an issue we’ve been having. My husband is a lot more trusting than me and I wanted to share this article with him; however, the person in question giving gifts and suggesting we leave our daughter is a woman and I know he’s gonna call out all the gender language here. Are bad guys all guys? Are mothers with kids the only safehavens or are fathers with kids too?

    • checklistmommy
      April 29, 2013

      None of this is black and white. Totally personal to your situation, and yes, woman can be dangers, too. The takeaway is: TRUST YOUR GUT. If something about a person’s behavior is making you uncomfortable, that’s all you have to know when it comes down to keeping your child safe from harm. For more info, go to Pattie Fitzgerald’s website, safelyeverafter.com.

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  • Jessica
    May 15, 2013

    On a lighter note, my friend was telling me how once her sister got lost at Yosemite National Park. After quite a long time, they found her sitting on a log. Her Mom asked her why she didn’t call out for help.

    “Because you told me never to talk to RANGERS!”

    She thought she should never talk to park rangers!

  • [...] earlier this year at Diddy and Gaga’s preschool inspired my top post thus far — “Tricky People” Are the New Strangers — which led to the both of us being SURPRISE-featured on a CBSMiami story last week. (How [...]

  • Shelley
    June 12, 2013

    I agree with a lot of the tips referenced in the article. I do struggle with the “mom with kids” or any adult with a child. I guess I’ve watched too much tv, but I really worry about a child coming up to my kids and having them help with finding their dog, etc. I’ve seen a lot of shows where another child leads the kid away to a waiting adult. I’m sure this is rare, but I’ve told my son not to go even with a child who asks him for help with a lost pet. I just wonder how many times things like this happen and it’s not documented, because the child is never found. I can see how easy it would be to threaten, abuse, train a child to be your errand boy/girl. I wonder if these cases have been documented. It’s a scary world and we have to let our children know not everyone should be trusted. Better to be safe, than sorry.

  • Sonia
    June 13, 2013

    I recommend reading the book, “Protecting the Gift”. It’s very insightful and full of recommendations on how to help keep our children safe.

  • zabrina
    June 13, 2013

    great advice….though i do think children have to grow up trusting some people…knowing some people are safe and that they are protected by them….that said, i am a little skeptical of the go to a woman with kids thing….i think generally it is a good policy, but know that here in Canada, at least two abductions that i know of were perpetrated by women to gain the child’s trust and then they were taken to a man and abused…..it is up to common sense and gut instinct to protect your children and to teach children to trust their own instincts too….thank you for a bringing up a new way to look at this issue….

  • Litzergam
    July 2, 2013

    Great list and great advice. A few of these things caught my eye as good opportunities for parents to talk to their kids about whether they feel lonely or neglected. If a teacher offers to take your child to a museum exhibit or if a coach offers to give extra help to your child- it might be because they notice that the child is lonely and neglected and that the child longs for parental attention. Open up the lines of communication with your child or their teacher. Did your child feel sad in class when many of their classmates went to the new Egyptian exhibit with their parents and the teacher is trying to fill the gap? Did your child tell their coach that they needed help with pitching , but their dad is always too busy to help them?

    In this busy world, it’s easy for us to focus on working extra hours, making more money, adding more tasks to our busy schedules, and not realize that our kids long for our attention. It’s something I realized when “Princess” was in kindergarten and I missed a lot of class parties and field trips. I vowed to change my priorities and plan ahead so I could go to most of her important events. Kids who don’t feel lonely are less likely to respond to attention from tricky people.

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  • Panditha S
    July 8, 2013

    You forgot the advice of this child molester… btw… this one was trusted by people many times and it had 100 victums before it was caught… btw… it was a female

    http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Female-Sex-Offenders-First-TV-Interview-Video

  • Tifani Sipes
    July 10, 2013

    These are some really great points, however, I do have to disagree with you in one area. It is smart to watch who babysits your children, but I just graduated from high school and I have babysat for free on multiple occasions simple out of generosity. I do it to bless the parents and let them have fun. Some people might have ulterior motives, but as for myself (and several of my friends), we truly enjoy babysitting for free as a way to serve adults we know.
    That being said, I think this is a really great post and I will definitely use some of these in the future with my children

  • [...] This is a good article about "tricky people" rather than stranger danger, some useful links at the bottom. http://www.checklistmommy.com/2012/0…new-strangers/ [...]

  • [...] Tricky People are the New Strangers: TRICKY PEOPLE are grown-ups who ASK KIDS FOR HELP (no adult needs to ask a kid for help) or TELLS KIDS TO KEEP A SECRET FROM THEIR PARENTS (including, IT’S OKAY TO COME OVER HERE BEHIND THIS TREE WITHOUT ASKING MOM FIRST. Not asking Mom is tantamount to KEEPING A SECRET.) [...]

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  • Jason
    July 29, 2013

    Good points–although I take a bit of offense at the whole “search out a mommy” concept. I’m a dad, and I would help a lost child.

    Here is a video that explains how a would-be molester will select and “groom” a specific child: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMjDwELJdYQ

    • Kyle
      July 29, 2013

      Well which is more important, keeping kids safe, or not offending you?

      I’m not even a dad. I’m a single male, and I’d help a lost child. The article is clearly saying I’m not an ideal choice for a child to seek help from, but I choose not to take offense. Children’s safety is more important than my pride. How about yours?

      There is some debate as to whether or not moms are indeed statistically safer than dads, but the question remains, hypothetically, if moms are at least as safe as dads then should we tell kids to find a mom or should we be non-specific in the interest of not offending readers? I’m gonna say maybe our personal feelings aren’t really a priority. Cast suspicion on me all you want. Avoid having your kids around me. In the arena of choosing who to trust with your kids, it’s pretty clear to me that it’s better to be wrong about a million perfectly nice people than it is to be wrong about a single child molester.

      The people commenting are so consistently taking issue with that part about finding a mom with kids, and it’s kind of getting old. I know none of those future complainers are gonna read this, but I wanna vent anyway. People love to get offended and wanna make that knee jerk reaction of broadcasting to the world that they indeed are an exception so they’ve disproved the rule that only moms are safe. Well guess what. The article isn’t saying that only moms are safe. It’s just saying that moms are the best choice. You may think you deserve some kind of congratulations for not being a child molester, but I think it’s safe to say that not a single person reading this article is a child molester. There’s nothing special about you. Get over yourself, swallow your pride, and maybe think about the kids before you start whining about how you want special recognition in the article.

  • Cassie
    August 9, 2013

    This is wonderful. I never thought of “tricky people”. Thank you so much for posting this information.

  • kara
    August 10, 2013

    More than the “seek out a mom” problematic instruction, many of the assumptions are gender based, ie “your weird cousin….HE” The assumption in nearly each example are that men are dangerous and less trustworthy. I wonder how that affects our children when we teach them women are safer. From a wee age we teach our children that women are more capable and better equipped to help children and that is problematic. Most child abductions are perpetrated by women but there seems to be no fear of that, only of sexual abuse. Even then since women do most of the caring it follows that reports of abuse go against men. When you look at self-reported incidents, that is abuse when a child is able to articulate what happens, you see a far more equal proportion between men and women.

    And with competent parenting, a 2 or 4 year old should not need to interact with a stranger so using that term is not problematic. By the time a child is interacting with strangers, we as parents, should have equipped them with the ability to gauge situations and be able to trust their instincts.

  • Kristen
    August 27, 2013

    I disobeyed my own “don’t read the comments” rule. And also my “if you read them, read them all before you say something rule” – I just couldn’t make it through everything. But here are my two cents – I prefer playing with the kids at parties, I’ve offered to babysit for free, and I’ve taken my Sunday School kids on outings. My husband is also the stay-at-home parent in our family and he would bend over backward to help any kid. For what it’s worth, I didn’t find this article personally offensive in any way. It’s not talking about me or my husband, its general. The tips are concise and age appropriate, and also practical: trust my husband – finding another dad with kids at the times and places where little kids are out and about with their caregivers is pretty hard! And helpers (security guards, police) are often even harder to find. A mom with kids is a quick and easy to remember solution for a scared little person. And though I can’t speak for everyone’s kids, I know mine are quite quick to parse through (shred) all the generalizations and “what ifs” (who is a stranger, what about a dad?, what about the doctor?) as soon as they are intellectually mature enough to do so.

  • Protect Your Children
    August 28, 2013

    [...] “Tricky People” are the  New Strangers [...]

  • [...] Here is an interesting article posted by Checklistmommy on the subject of how we might address this with children. I like most of it, and have different opinions on other parts, but they are onto the fact that its not “strangers” by definition that pose danger: http://www.checklistmommy.com/2012/02/09/tricky-people-are-the-new-strangers/ [...]

  • [...] i read it on a mummy blog last year which i will link below if you fancy reading the whole post. Tricky People Are the New Strangers Thanks for that Dani I will start using the 'tricky people' as the term. I am going to read this [...]

  • Five for Friday | 5inthebed
    September 7, 2013

    [...] stranger danger – tricky people are what your kids need to know [...]

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  • [...] ChecklistMommy’s blog post on Tricky People had a very good suggestion that I use too:  Tell the kids to look for another Mom with kids.  So I’ve been doing that too.  “Look for another mommy and tell them to help you find me,” is another line I use often.  Jamie has it memorized already. [...]

  • [...] Tricky People Are the New Strangers | Checklist Mommy [...]

  • [...] for the immense resources the internet provides. After hours of searching and reading I came across this site. I love the way this mom addresses the problem I ran into. She talks about how there are strangers [...]

  • [...] friend sent us an article recently titled Tricky People Are the New Strangers.  It is a post well worth your 5-10 minutes to read through. It discusses tips for when your child is [...]

  • Ren
    October 3, 2013

    **Women can be molesters too** Just thought that that was an important and clearly forgotten fact with this article.

  • amp
    November 7, 2013

    so I was all for this article right up until they started listing the kinds of people to be worried about. I am an adult that enjoys having kids around. I have a huge family that I don’t get to see often and I volunteer my time purposefully to tutor children, and help friends out babysitting because it fills a void of family type experiences that circumstance has made more difficult to fill otherwise (see $700 round trip ticket). This does not make me a creep or some closet child molester who has yet to realize. Seriously! I read an article a while back about an American woman who moved to Italy with her husband while her daughter was still a toddler and it took her a bit to get used to how friendly everyone was to her child. I’m all for protecting your children from external threats but if we make it “abnormal” for adults to interact with children then what is that teaching them? The call that an adult should not need a child’s help is fair, but I remember my grandparents specifically stocking squeeze juices for the neighborhood kids who would come by even when grandchildren weren’t visiting because they enjoyed my grandparent’s company. My grandparent’s loved kids, in a completely healthy way, and saw them as our future and worth spoiling and giving their time to. Don’t ruin that with fear mongering.

  • [...] just a stranger – who asks them for help or tells them to do something without telling me, is probably not safe and they should let me know immediately about anyone who does those things. I reminded them that [...]

  • MrPogle
    January 9, 2014

    I don’t want to trivialize an otherwise important issue, but “Didi” and “Gaga”?!

  • Mel
    January 14, 2014

    I enjoyed this article however I think we need to take it with a grain of salt. For example, sometimes I just want hang out with the kids in the backyard and not gossip or talk about all the seriousness that life has to offer us as adults. It doesn’t make me a child molestor but rather someone who just wants to be a kid myself sometimes. As for the free babysitting; I offer to babysit my girlfriend’s kids for free all the time. They don’t have a lot of money and I have been friends with her since before her kids were born, I’ve seen them grow up and I love them like I would love my own kids. They are amazing kids and I love having them around. I would NEVER in a million years molest a child. The fact that there are people like that out there literally makes me sick to my stomach. I’m kind and see that she needs some help or a break sometimes, I’m not a predator.

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About Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a novelist living in New York City. Four kids later, I'm a blogger living in LA who writes about parenting, partnering, and the rise and fall of my family / my home / civilization. I'm also a I'm a screenwriter, most recently of the movie "No Way Jose." I live with my husband, kids, dog, cats, and a tank full of surprisingly resilient fish, and I take bedtime around here as seriously as I do my morning coffee. Which is to say: I AM NOT KIDDING AROUND ABOUT BEDTIME.

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