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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.

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

452 Responses to “Tricky People” Are the New Strangers

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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • […] 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 […]

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • […] 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 […]

  • 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. 😉

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

  • Giorgio
    March 22, 2012

    Thanks for the advices!

    • Desaraev
      December 6, 2012

      Why not change the articles few questionable phrases?

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • Amy
    March 18, 2012

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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”

  • Renata Stickwood
    March 10, 2012

    Fantastic post! Thanks for the very useful information.

    • checklistmommy
      March 10, 2012

      So glad you found it helpful!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Hijabi
    March 4, 2012

    Excellent! Thanks!

    • ChecklistMommy
      March 4, 2012

      So glad you appreciate the info! Thanks for reading.

  • 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!

  • 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!)!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!)

  • NOH
    March 1, 2012

    Reblogged this on Memoirs Of A Modern Housewife.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • ChecklistMommy
      February 29, 2012

      Glad to share the info. Thanks for reading!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

    • Amy
      March 26, 2014

      There have been a fair few instances where fathers have used a child of their own to lure another child to go with them thinking it’s safe, because their is another child. And fathers are much more likely to abuse a child than a mother is (generally speaking, obviously not all men, and that’s not to say no mothers do either).

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time I wanted to be a novelist in NY. FOUR KIDS LATER I'm a
screenwriter in LA who blogs about parenting, partnering, and the decline of civilization / my home.

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