Call me too free-range. Call me too trusting. But when I see giant pedophile warnings, I envision the blue hairs clutching their pearls, and I can't help but roll my eyes. We have a lot of sickos in this country, but not every single guy or gal out there is just itching to get in your kid's pants.
OK, so now that you know I'm not one of those "cries bad touch at the scent of a strange man" moms, let's tackle the story of a Scottish school that sent home letters to parents telling them to dress their kids differently to stop attracting pedophiles.
What a load of rubbish. Don't these schools know anything about the basic rules of how to dress your kids to keep the creeps at bay?
The schools sent home what amounted to slut-shaming the kids, talking about girls in skirts and girls and boys both in "tight trousers," attracting pedophiles as though the kids themselves were to blame. Not only is that a heavy burden to lay on kids, it's not entirely accurate.
Either kids will be abused or they won't. What they're wearing at the time won't matter in that aspect.
But there are a few crucial ways their choice of clothing CAN help keep them safe -- all tricks I've learn from friends in policework over the years. What matters isn't whether some sicko notices your kid or not -- that might happen; it might not. It's whether or not your kid is armed. Confused? Let me clear it up:
1. Don't put your child's name on their clothing or gear. A 5- or 6-year-old has a hard time distinguishing between someone "knowing" them on a personal level and someone simply reading their name off their t-shirt and calling out to them. When you put Joseph on their backpack, you blow the whole concept of stranger danger.
2. Clad their feet in sensible shoes. As one teacher told me, the most common reason kids are separated from the group on field trips is because they tire of walking. This time of year is field trip season, and kids are at a heightened risk of stranger danger. Good shoes means feet are less tired. It also means kids can walk more quickly away from strangers should they be in an uncomfortable situation.
Do you keep stranger danger in mind when you're dressing your elementary schooler for the day? What are your best tips?
Image via Elizabeth/Table4Five/Flickr