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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have another "how would you have handled this situation" scenario. So we went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants last night, and there is a man sitting with a computer at the next table. I assume he is either the owner or some sort of employee. He is American so I am sure he has a sense of our cultural norms regarding personal space, etc and I have never seen him there before. The ladies that cook there all come out to see the kids and they know our children and my kids are comfortable with them. While we are talking with them, I look over at dd (across the table sitting with her uncle) and the man has come over and has put out his hand palm up, she places her hand on his and he is walking his fingers up her arm singing a little "dumbta-dum" song and tickles her neck. So we are watching this and she is laughing, and he asks if she wants him to do it again and she says "yes", and this time he walks his fingers to her armpit and then around her collarbone. She laughs but we are feeling really uncomfortable and all feeling like if moves his hand a centimeter lower I am going to have to physically defend my child. Dh, uncle and myself all exchange glances and I can tell my kid's uncle is ready to knock his hand away if needed. So at this point I say politely but gave off enough vibes through tone and body language that we are uncomfortable, "Okay, that is enough." and to dd, "Let's read your book.", so she is distracted and won't continue to interact. So he starts talking to me about how great my kids are, asks dd her age, and starts telling me about this other boy who loves to be tickled and about his granddaughter and makes a point to keep saying their names. Now I have alarm bells going off in my head because the book "Protecting the Gift" talks about potential molesters using that tactic. Not saying that he was necessaily dangerous but I was having enough of a sense of discomfort that I felt like my child needed to be protected. So I open dd's book to distract her and dh decides that we need to leave now. So he gets up and pays, he is getting the vibe and he is feeling very protective of the kids. So dh and my kid's uncle take the kids outside while I pack up and clean ds's mess off the floor (due to the eating habits of 2 year olds). I say thanks and leave. When we are outside I ask dd how she felt about him tickling her and she says that it was fine and didn't make her uncomfortable. Dh says we won't go there again. What do you think, did we handle this right? Did we over or underreact? What would you have said or done? The whole thing happened in a few seconds and he did let dd choose to interact with him, but I can't help feeling like I could have been a better advocate for my daughter.
 

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You absolutely did not overreact. I would've done something similar.<br><br>
Did you ask any of the waitstaff if they knew who that man was? If I liked the restaurant I probably would go back, but I would leave if I saw him there.<br><br>
Don't second-guess yourself. Your job as a parent is not to be nice, it's to protect your child, and you did that. Even your dh, and dc's uncle were not comfortable with the situation. I think you did the right thing. At best you let a potential molester know you will protect your child, at worst you came off as a little unfriendly to a complete stranger. Sounds like a good trade-off to me. Always listen to your mama-voice. It won't let you down. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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I usually say something, in a voice that carries, along the lines of: "it's o.k. to say hello to this stranger, I'm watching you." It does two things, it reminds my kids that we don't talk to strangers, even if I'm with them UNLESS I give approval. More importantly, I hope, it is reminding adults that you don't just talk to kids you don't know. When my kids want to talk to another kid we don't just do it. I make it a point to ask the parent if it is o.k. Reinforces to my children that the parent has to say o.k. and that ALL parents, even their own mom stick to this rule.<br><br>
My kids are older now and shy. There are times people will try and talk to them and they hide behind me and I'll say something like. Oh, that's so nice of you to talk to my children but they don't have permission to talk to you. If I'm ticked at the person I'll say you don't have permission to talk to my children. Once a security guard kindly offered my kids candy. We see him every day. But my son was saying no thank you and he was insisting. I very pointedly said thank you and I know we see you every day but my son said no and you shouldn't be offering without asking my permission.<br><br>
We are at the point were my kids want to know if the people we see all the time in our condo building but don't know are strangers or not. We all say hello and other pleasantries and it confuses my 7yr old. I tell him he should watch who I talk to and he will get the hang of when and how people who are strangers talk to each other just to be civil.<br><br>
Stick to you principles. Don't worry about hurt feelings. Adults should know better in this day and age.
 

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As a mother i say you didn't overreact. BUT....huge BUT here. My DH is bad to play with strange kids. He will tickle them and talk to them. He means absolutely no harm by it. He just loves kids and loves to enteract with them. People who know kids tend to know where the most ticklish spots are. Unfortunately those spots are often very close to private places. That being said...i was sexually molested as a child and i do tend to not let anyone touch my kids. It makes me VERY uncomfortable for a stranger to touch them or anything. I have tried to explain this to my DH and he isn't so bad now as to want to play with every child he sees....although if we are shopping and he is bored because i am taking too long he will find the nearest child and play for a while. One thing he does different than what that man did was that he always engages the parent in conversation before he speaks to the child. If someone seems uncomfortable with him then he leaves it at conversation and goes along his way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies and support. lovemyboo- thanks for confirming my intention of going with my instincts, and for reminding me that the worst case scenario is I came off as a little unfriendly. Not such a big deal. I wonder why it sometimes feels so hard to "make a scene" when these types of things come up. Like I have no problem getting in there and defending my kids if needs be, but when the line is not overtly crossed I find it hard to know how to handle it. I appreciate bluglass how you have come up with a way of just putting it out there from the start, as in reminding the adult that they are indeed strangers to your children. ladywulf- thanks for the support as well as reminding me that some people do actually have good intentions. I was molested by a neighbor and I am also very sensitive about people touching my children, and the way he was walking his fingers up dd's arm and around her neck was a lot like the way the person who molested me would initiate touching. So obviously I have a lot of history that colors my perception, but dh and BIL also thought it was odd. Anyhow, the support and opinions have eased my mind, so thanks.
 

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I am glad you didn't take what i said offensively because it definately wasn't meant that way. When i first saw your post i thought for sure i would see where somehow my DH had scared someone. LOL. I had never thought about it before really as i know DH is harmless. Now i see how his harmless play could seem harmful to some parents. I will definately be watching him closer from now on. (Yes i know i sound like his mother also...and sometimes i feel like it)
 

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Haven't read the replies yet, but I wanted to relate a story about my ds:<br><br>
I took him to ride this little train at the mall last year. The kids walk into a little gate and climb on the train themselves (it's really small). My mom and I were standing right next to the little gate as ds walked through and over to the train. The man running the train takes ds's hand to walk with him to the train. My mom says "Please don't hold his hand. I don't want him feeling that it's okay for strangers to grab him. Thank you."<br><br>
I have spent a lifetime being mortified at how direct my mom is with people, but she just doesn't give a hoot if someone thinks she is rude. She is a mama bear to the core, and she'd rather offend the Pope than take a chance with one of her kids (or grandkids). I have a lot to learn from her, because I tend to be a little too shy in saying something when it makes me uncomfortable.<br><br>
But remember another part in Protecting the Gift: When he relates the story of the man in the department store who snatched the little boy while the mom was shopping. The author also makes the point that if the mom had said what she had thought when the man offered to take the kid to the video game store, which was "Yeah right, like I'm going to let him go off with a stranger", then the man would very likely have walked off, and looked for someone else. Someone who would be more reluctant to come off as being impolite. The number one thing I took from that book was to practice being rude. Not intentionally, unwarranted rude. Just not smiling at someone that makes me uncomfortable, not feeling the need to respond to questions, or turning and walking away without 'excusing' myself. It is really empowering - I have a ways to go, but I practice it all the time, as I feel this is my weak spot when it comes to protecting my kids, and myself.<br><br>
Anyway, I would have done the same thing you did. I don't see a reason to not go back, but I definitely would have said "Okay, that's enough", changed the topic and moved. But I would have wished that I had said "Please don't tickle her. I don't want her to think that it's okay for strangers to touch her."
 

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about practicing to be rude. We are women and, basically, acculturated to "be nice". Nice girls don't act rude, don't say things that make people uncomfortable. As children we solve play problems though niceness so-to-speak. Boys speak their mind. Oh, I'm sure girls do their share of grabbing and hitting but we deal with boys and girls doing this differently. My personal goal was to try and flatten this out. I try very hard to make sure I treat the same behaviors in my kids the same way and have the same expectations of them.<br><br>
To that end I have to be the role model. Very hard for mom to teach that it is not o.k. for just anyone to touch you. From the very beginning my husband and I always asked permission to be near specific body parts. Even when diapering. Even when putting the kids in the car seat. We made it a point of asking if it was o.k. to reach in to buckle the seat as it was in their crotch. Even our pediatrician makes it a point of asking not only the child but mom for permission to examine their lower bodies and tells them if they are uncomfortable at all to say so and they will stop.<br><br>
I am beginning to think it quite common to have one or more stories about children being touched in public when it was just not appropriate. Our first was born in summer and our pediatrician warned us that people would reach in or try to put their faces close to baby, not out of anything bad but basically unthinking. And from the least negative point of view it was exposing them to germs and at worst it was... He told us to get netting and keep it over the car seat and stroller at all times and if I carried the baby to just not let anyone near them. We were told not to allow anyone other than grandparents or caregiver to hold the baby for the first 40 days. (I did make one exception with a cousin from out of town at a family wedding). And we made everyone wash their hands and use a cd on their shoulder so the face and mouth weren't touching their clothes. Don't know if it helped but it didn't hurt.<br><br>
On the extreme end, I got my nerve when at several weeks old, I was grocery shopping with the carseat in the grocery cart. We were in line checking out. You know how narrow the lanes are. Well, some employee just had to get by and just had to get by in my lane. He yanked the cart right out of my hands. Boy did I go off. Yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs what kind of idiot he was and where did he get off just yanking a cart with a newborn baby in it right out of the mother's hands. By then everyone was staring and the manager was running over trying to appologise. I went off on him saying how lucky he was that I wasn't the type of person to carry a gun or mace or something and that I didn't shoot the guy in self-defense for trying to kidnap my child. The manager disciplined the employee right in front of me but I was not satisified. Don't you think the next week I went shopping the manager with the same employee came right up to me and said: " excuse me mam we need to get by in your lane -- we want your child to be safe and would appreciate if you would move the cart for us to a safe location." I thanked him for his sensitivity and moved.<br><br>
After that I had no problem telling strangers we just don't touch without a parent's permission. I practice with my kids from time to time and we review rules and situations. But we also live in a highrise and there are instances, like in a fire or other disaster where they might need to rely on a stranger to get them to safety or seek out a stranger though probably in uniform to help them.<br><br>
I like that the husband of anothe rposter talks to the parent first. We do this when there are other kids on the bus or in restaurants. I tell my child to go introduce himself to the parents and ask permission to play and I usually introduce myself and ask if it is o.k. Usually, in front of the other child I will make it a point to say that after all strangers shouldn't just talk to you without permission. I want to reinforce what I hope they are hearing from their parents.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I have spent a lifetime being mortified at how direct my mom is with people, but she just doesn't give a hoot if someone thinks she is rude.</td>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"> I strive to be more like your mother. In my pre-SAHM days when I worked with teen girls in state care it really struck a chord with me that these girls were devastated to their very cores that their parents failed to protect them. I saw what it did for their esteem when we went that extra mile to let other people know that it was not okay to hurt our girls and we weren't going to let it happen. I pissed off all kinds of people on that job, including the girls. To my knowlege no one got molested or otherwise hurt on my watch, not without me doing everything I could to stop/prevent it.<br><br>
When I had my son I made him a promise, and I promise my daughter the same thing. I will offend, alienate, and piss off a thousand innocent coaches, teachers, neighbors, strangers, relatives, and friends if it protects you from one predator. I strive not to care if I come off as the whacky, overprotective mom because I won't let you go to people's houses alone until I'm comfortable with them. I struggle to be okay with trying to teach you the fine line between listening to your instincts and being afraid of the world. I try to swallow that lump in my throat that tells me I'm a bad parent when I teach you that it's okay to tell an adult "No!!" and to say it like you mean it! Same thing when I tell you that you don't have to do whatever an adult tells you, that you can ALWAYS check with me or Dad first if you're not sure. I remind myself that that applies to teachers and Grandpa as well as strangers who are easier for me to offend. I promise you to do this the best way I can.<br><br>
No parent can protect their child 100%. Sometimes children are hurt, molested, or worse despite the most vigilant parents. It may happen to my child. But, may the universe help me, it will only happen in spite of my very best efforts and attentions - and I pray that at the very least I'll be able to catch it quick, and put a rapid and complete stop to it.<br><br>
So I tell myself this on a regular basis. Everytime I worry about offending someone over listening to my mama voice. It ain't easy being a parent. It's hard to think that you've offended a well-meaning person. But that's okay. The people that really care about me and my kids get it. Everyone else can just get over it. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lady.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lady">
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">When I had my son I made him a promise, and I promise my daughter the same thing. I will offend, alienate, and piss off a thousand innocent coaches, teachers, neighbors, strangers, relatives, and friends if it protects you from one predator. I strive not to care if I come off as the whacky, overprotective mom because I won't let you go to people's houses alone until I'm comfortable with them. I struggle to be okay with trying to teach you the fine line between listening to your instincts and being afraid of the world. I try to swallow that lump in my throat that tells me I'm a bad parent when I teach you that it's okay to tell an adult "No!!" and to say it like you mean it! Same thing when I tell you that you don't have to do whatever an adult tells you, that you can ALWAYS check with me or Dad first if you're not sure. I remind myself that that applies to teachers and Grandpa as well as strangers who are easier for me to offend. I promise you to do this the best way I can.</td>
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That actually made tears well up in my eyes. I may have to put that on my fridge!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>oceanbaby</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">When I had my son I made him a promise, and I promise my daughter the same thing. I will offend, alienate, and piss off a thousand innocent coaches, teachers, neighbors, strangers, relatives, and friends if it protects you from one predator. I strive not to care if I come off as the whacky, overprotective mom because I won't let you go to people's houses alone until I'm comfortable with them. I struggle to be okay with trying to teach you the fine line between listening to your instincts and being afraid of the world. I try to swallow that lump in my throat that tells me I'm a bad parent when I teach you that it's okay to tell an adult "No!!" and to say it like you mean it! Same thing when I tell you that you don't have to do whatever an adult tells you, that you can ALWAYS check with me or Dad first if you're not sure. I remind myself that that applies to teachers and Grandpa as well as strangers who are easier for me to offend. I promise you to do this the best way I can.</div>
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Wow, powerful stuff, thank you for writing that, that's is what my head and heart say also, and what I try to convey to dd as well.<br><br>
"Protecting the Gift" is a GREAt book and a must-read for everyone...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the replies. I think I need to start writing down these responses to whip out when needed. "Please don't _____, I don't want him/ her to think it's okay for strangers to ____. Thank you." I also need some for dealing with relatives and friends. Seriously, I am putting it in my wallet. Because when I am in the moment I do a good job protecting them, but it almost always means removing them from the stiuation, so I always feel like I am losing an opportunity to be an advocate for my child. Maybe if I can find a way to be totally clear with the person it could accomplish several things; help solidify the messages I give dd about boundaries, make it very clear to a potential predator that I am not messing around, and also if it just a well-meaning person that their behavior may need some reassessing (they need to ask parents before interacting with their children, etc). So I am going to work on being more upfront and stop being worried about coming off as rude.
 

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Farmermama,<br><br>
You did the right thing. Something felt off to you guys and you acted. Just from hearing the story it sounds very inappropriate and I would've done the same thing. I know what you mean about that akward line you have to cross. Is this getting weird enough to say something? Because once you say something it's a little weird. I've been there so many times so I really know what you mean. I strive to nurture my inner mama bear though and I have never, ever regretted one of those times of crossing that line. I also find it's usually just met with silence and the action stopping. So at least it's not like it turns into a huge confrontation. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"> Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I know what you mean. Good job trusting your instincts. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>oceanbaby</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">That actually made tears well up in my eyes. I may have to put that on my fridge!</div>
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Ditto!
 

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You totally did the right thing.<br><br>
When my dd was 3.5 months old some guy in starbucks came up to me and my baby and asked me if she was my baby (huge wierd red flag). I said yes and he tried to put his full huge man hand in my baby's face!! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked"> I moved her away and he tried again. I said (while shaking) Please don't touch my baby....You are a stranger and I do not know you....Starbucks went dead quiet. I felt so mortified....partly because I felt rude, and partly because I had to SAY IT AT ALL! I think he had some sort of mental problem and he was upset and appologized....however you just have to go with your gut.<br><br>
I would rather be rude and wrong than wrong and polite and my child invaded upon.
 

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Wow, i have a totally different experience. While I have NO problem protecting my child or stopping communication and appearing rude if i feel danger, I allow my daughter (5) to speak to whomever she wants. I sit there quietly and observe. We are in the public world a lot - we live in a city without a car. The other day we were on the tram and an older lady got on - by custom my dd should have given up her seat for her. But being 5, she didn't want to. The woman smiled, said "come, sit on my knee!" and proceeded to sweep my dd onto her lap. They chatted until to was time for us to get off, and my dd was crushed that we had to leave her! She waved until they went out of sight. This happens at least once a week, and probably every day dd initiates or is initiated into at least one or two conversations with strangers. People often pick her up or hold her hand to help her on and off buses because I always hold my infant in a wrap or sling & it's hard for me to do alone. I also encourage her to order drinks in cafes and pay for things in shops. I stand back and let her do it. I feel it's important not to constantly burden her mind with the responsibility of the concept of strangers & potential dangers because I don't want to make her paranoid. I take on that load by being present with her and helping her find direction when she is unsure. I <i>have</i> started discussing self-preservation stuff with her now more as she is growing older.<br><br>
So basically I let her go with her own instincts. Very rarely do I have to discourage interaction because she is selective. Luckily, our judgment is usually very similar and I do not apologize for her when she rejects someone. I can trump her decision any time I feel there is danger and then I explain to her why she can't interact with that person. I feel as though I encourage safety and a sense of self protection in her by bolstering her confidence in herself and having a sense of trust and faith in humankind, and allowing others to help her, which elicits in her a desire to be helpful to others. At the same time I think I give her enough pointers to encourage heightened awareness AND safety practices. Honestly, she does just fine judging for herself. She rejects people a lot. I feel as though my dd is very sensible and able to recognize who is safe and who is not so up until now I haven't felt the need to censor her or snuff out her extroverted tendencies.<br><br>
I also live in a place where there is not such sensationalism in the news which I think can really taint how you feel and act. It is a very sexist country in my opinion, but there is strong sense that women should help each other and also that children should be protected. By no means is it the proverbial "village" but I do feel other women on the tram or metro (and some men) looking out for the welfare of my child. There are probably proportionately as many pedophiles but my daughter also doesn't choose men to talk to usually, and when one I think is weird approaches her she usually rebuffs him.<br><br>
This thread has gotten me thinking. To the OP I think you did the right thing by leaving, but I definitely would have told the guy straight away to stop touching my child.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>LovemyBoo</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">When I had my son I made him a promise, and I promise my daughter the same thing. I will offend, alienate, and piss off a thousand innocent coaches, teachers, neighbors, strangers, relatives, and friends if it protects you from one predator. I strive not to care if I come off as the whacky, overprotective mom because I won't let you go to people's houses alone until I'm comfortable with them. I struggle to be okay with trying to teach you the fine line between listening to your instincts and being afraid of the world. I try to swallow that lump in my throat that tells me I'm a bad parent when I teach you that it's okay to tell an adult "No!!" and to say it like you mean it! Same thing when I tell you that you don't have to do whatever an adult tells you, that you can ALWAYS check with me or Dad first if you're not sure. I remind myself that that applies to teachers and Grandpa as well as strangers who are easier for me to offend. I promise you to do this the best way I can.</div>
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Can you PM me your name because I want to print out this quote and my sisters want a copy too. I just want to make sure that, in case it gets around, you get proper credit. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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We to live in a big city and take public transportation a lot as well as go out in our neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods. I can understand encouraging your child to be sociable and learn to navigate polite society. It is a great learning experience for kids to pay at stores. We have to know how to behave on the bus, the train and in a taxi. We have to have polite behavior in restaurants though we try to go to kid friendly places and we have to know how to walk in very crowded places where grownups all look the same at the knees. I too try to have my children participate in ordering food or their cocoa at Starbucks or local coffee shops which are a frequent and favored destination of ours. It allows us time to sit companionably in public watching the time go by. People often intract with my kids and if my kids respond I let them. But we also work on NOT being too familiar unless it is safe and in these circumstances my kids will sometimes remember to look askance at me and I will approve and tell them it's o.k. as I am supervising. You are braver than I to let a stranger hold your child especially while encumbured with an infant. You say yourself that you have some degree of difficulty getting off busses with two which makes me wonder what you would do if that stranger simply got up and tried to get off the bus with your child. I would have my doubts about how quickly the driver or other passengers would come to your aid no matter what you were yelling or how loudely. By that time a child is gone. No disrespect to your choice, I just worry. I'm certain my area must be different than yours and that you know your area well otherwise you would make a different choice. How lucky you are to have this modicum of safety for your child to enjoy.
 

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Good point. For the record, i do block the way in front of my dd whenever she is on an old lady's lap or something. Most of the time it <i>is</i> old ladies - and i can run faster than them w/ or w/o an infant in a wrap. Otherwise, maybe i'm crazy but i do think people would help (they totally ignore adults in crisis but it's a very family oriented culture & kids are better protected)... in the same way, here, women with baby carriages assume that people on the tram will offer to help carry their carriage on & off - and they do. It's just not considered invasive to talk to, touch or help another's child. In the States I would react differently b/c social rules are different, and yes I'd probably be more worried there too. I also think/hope I'm a pretty good judge of character and if I smell danger we decline to interact.
 

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Ah, yes, I live in a big city in the US. Very different attitudes here and, well, sadly, people do bad things here and you have to be a little cynical and paranoid. It is something that I am embarrased to admit but must deal with.
 
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