Faye Arcand, Safety

Do You Know How to Keep Your Kids Safe While Shopping?

A few weeks ago, someone posted a parent warning on Facebook. There was concern expressed by a young mom that a creepy guy followed her and her infant through a store. After shopping, she requested an escort from store security to her car where they found the man and two others waiting. The guys took off, and police were alerted.

Strange things like this happen all the time, but few go public as they’re brushed off as hysteria or overreaction. As your Auntie I want to tell you to trust your gut instinct and practice some safety measures for yourself and your kid while shopping.

It’s not about raising your anxiety or that of your child, it’s about thinking and being present at the moment (which can be a challenge when you’re a new parent and sleep deprived).

For the most part, you’re safe as you shop and go about daily life, but you also need to use some common sense.

My son, now age 19, went missing in a local Wal-Mart when he was about three years old. It was the most terrifying minutes of my entire life.

I always… like always… put him in the cart while I shopped, but that day he wanted to walk and I let him. Well, imagine my panic when I glanced away for a couple of seconds only to turn back and find him gone. Oh, my God! I called his name and searched the immediate area and then stepped out into the aisle—it was at that very moment I realized how huge the store was and I couldn’t see anything except a sea of merchandise and a bunch of strangers.

I screamed—I’m sure I sounded hysterical, but staff came immediately to ask what was going on.

They were amazing.

One employee stayed with me while another ran to the front. A Code Adam was called, and the store locked down. Staff monitored the doors and didn’t let anyone in or out of the store. More employees suddenly appeared in the area doing a sweep search. They quickly found my son hidden in the center of a clothing rack and returned him to me. I can still feel that sense of panic all these years later.

The reason I tell you this story is not to make you paranoid, but aware.

There are a lot of creepy people out there that prey on the innocent.

When your child is an infant, many coo over the baby and want to touch them. That’s not okay, and you need not let some stranger wiggle the baby’s finger or whatever. Set your boundaries and stick to them. If someone is offended, it’s their problem, not yours.

There are also those who want to engage youngsters in chit chat. I still see it all the time. Most of the time it’s simply a person being friendly and there’s nothing behind the conversations, but you never know. Here are some examples.

  • ‘So, what’s your name?’
  • ‘My name is…’ (this is important because now that the child knows the person’s name, they’re no longer a ‘stranger’)
  • ‘How old are you?’
  • ‘Do you have brothers or sisters?’
  • ‘I bet your daddy thinks you’re special…’ (leading statements like this are used to illicit information)
  • ‘Do you shop here with your mommy a lot?’
  • ‘What school do you go to?’
  • ‘Do you like candy?’
  • ‘I bet you’re a good girl for your mommy, aren’t you?’

These may all sound innocent (and most times it is), but they’re leading questions and kids don’t know what is appropriate and what is not.

Remember, there’s no need for you to apologize to a stranger. Don’t be rude, but be firm with your boundaries.

You can either walk away or tell them they should not be questioning children. If you have a weird feeling, report the incident to the store.

A few other common sense suggestions…

***Don’t leave your infant or kids in an unlocked car as you go off to return the cart.

***Don’t send your kid or preteen off on an errand in the store unless you’re confident in their ability to not engage with strangers under any circumstances.

***Don’t leave your kids in the toy department as you shop elsewhere in the store.

***I vividly remember the fatigue and frustration of shopping with kids but don’t cut corners. Leave them home if you can but if it’s not possible then keep them in your sights.

Sometimes creepy people will cross your path and it’s best to be prepared and educate your child. Do your research, trust your gut, and report what you consider suspicious.

Here’s one site where you can read about teaching kids about strangers, but this is one of many. Read up. Talk to your kids and be smart.

Auntie Lesson: For those who don’t know…

What is a Code Adam:

Code Adam is a missing-child safety program in the United States and Canada, originally created by Walmart retail stores in 1994. This type of alert is generally regarded as having been named in memory of Adam Walsh, the 6-year-old son of John Walsh.” (as per Wikipedia)

Here’s what happened….

Adam Walsh was playing on his video games only a few aisles away from his mother as she shopped nearby. She went to find him but he was gone. Tragically, Adam had been abducted and murdered.

His legacy is the Code Adam and a reminder that there are some people who are evil.

Stay safe.

9 thoughts on “Do You Know How to Keep Your Kids Safe While Shopping?”

  1. OMG..this happened to me in Toronto in a large department store. Talk about panic! Someone found him and took him to the office. I had been to the office and left my name. When I heard my name called, I ran to the office and found him happily sitting on the counter with a lollipop. Me crying my eyes out, grabbed him and left without even a thank you.
    Please, please be careful. Thanks Faye.

    1. Omg…just in your comment I can feel your angst at the memory. I feel so much the same way. I don’t think I’d ever been so frightened. It is scary out there and there’s a lot of creepy people. Everyone stay safe. xoxo Thanks Heather. So Thankful it turned out well….

  2. I see so many people leave their kids alone in the weirdest places all the time and it makes me cringe! One time, my dad rescued a little boy that was playing in the ocean on his own with code orange weather. He almost got hit by a large wave, but my dad was able to pick him up just in time. And then the parents got angry at him saying that he shouldn’t touch their boy. No, he should’ve let him drown…. 😅 and I can’t count the times that people forgot their children because they were on the phone in the store where I used to work.

    1. Hello! thanks so much for stopping by and reading my blog. Oh man… I can so relate to what you’re saying about kids being left alone. I’ve seen kids in diapers left out on the front lawn without a parent in sight….makes me crazy! I’m glad your dad rescued that little boy. They have no idea how lucky they are that he was there. I hope you continue to be a regular visitor. Thanks again for stopping by. ox

  3. This is a very thoughtful post for young moms. Once it happened to me too that I just finished shopping, and when my 3 years was not behind me. I still remembered the feelings; everything went dark, and I felt that I was alone though it was just for a few sec. Luckily, I found him a few steps back, staring at something. It broke my heart to read about Adam’s abduction and tragic demise. You have given some useful tips for young moms, and as well as for preteens moms because sometimes the kid is not ready yet to do the errand by herself. Great Post!👏

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Sara. I agree more parents–of all ages–sometimes need a reminder of their precious kids. That feeling of overwhelming panic is awful. Glad you stopped by. Hope to see you hear again.

Thank you for visiting. I really hope you enjoyed reading my post. Remember to Comment and Like. Please FOLLOW below.