Yep, I am.
It’s a hard line to walk, and a lot of it depends on where you live and what the most pressing danger to your children is likely to be. We live in a crowded city where there’s a reported kidnapping attempt at least twice a year. So we focus on (possibly apocryphal) tips like “don’t walk behind an open van door” and “don’t leave the playground with anyone you don’t know” and “if a person feels creepy, go ahead and be rude and walk away.”
On the other hand, sometimes a kid needs help when we’re not around. He’s been told to first look for someone in a uniform: police, crossing guard, firefighter, security. If he can’t find that, he’s been told to look for a woman with kids. Next, a man with kids. Failing that, anyone he doesn’t feel creeped out by. Is this a perfect system? No. Does it make him shun someone who might be perfectly safe? Yes. But it’s the best we’ve come up with, based on statistics of stranger child molesters and kidnappers.
We also stress the “creepy feeling” we get when we’re not in a safe situation. I want him to trust that feeling, so that even if it’s not a stranger, he has my prior permission to remove himself from danger. (This, of course, bowing to the data which shows most abusers are someone you know.) I will never, ever, insist that he give Aunt Mable a hug and a kiss goodbye. It’s his body, and if he feels creeped out, he does NOT have to share it.
malkavia, I love your safe word idea. I may start that as well.
When he was too small to know his phone number, whenever we were at a big, crowded event like Oktoberfest or Taste of Chicago, I’d get temporary tattoo sheets from Office Max and write my name and phone number on it and tattoo it to his arm. I told him if we got separated, he should find the nearest police officer and show her his arm.