Is it ever OK for a stranger to touch your child?

Unless there's an obvious danger, is there any excuse for someone you don't know putting their hands on your child?

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We recently shared the story of a mum who was shocked when a stranger pushed her daughter down from standing on a chair in a children’s theatre – and we got a tonne of responses on Facebook and our forum.

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The mum in question admitted that, although she was shocked, she didn’t say anything to the woman who did it – and she did admit it was an effective way to make her little girl sit back down in her seat, perhaps quicker than she would have done had it been Mummy asking.

But she also said she’d NEVER do it to someone else’s child herself, and she would have preferred the stranger either to have had a word with her insteador to have asked her daughter to sit rather than pushing her down by her shoulders.

So, here’s what our mums thought… 

ERRRRR, NO – IT’S NOT OK

General consensus was that this action in the theatre was out of order. Dawn P says: “The only time a stranger should ever touch a child is if that child was in danger.

“If an adult had done this to another adult it would have been classed as assault. Totally disgraceful.”

Stephanie C says: “The stranger would see the back of my hand!

“To be fair, it does irritate me when people just let their kids stand up and kick the back of my chair. But I always politely ask the parents to ask the child to stop/sit down…. I’d never dream of ‘sitting’ the child down, no matter how frustrated I am.”

And Lisa T said: “It is never OK for another adult/stranger to touch your child/ren, unless they are in danger.

“How dare someone think they have the right to touch another person’s child, especially when it is totally unnecessary! I would be fuming if this happened to one of my kids!”

BUT WHAT IF IT’S WELL MEANING?

For lots of our mums, the theatre incident mentioned above was out of order because pushing the child down was the stranger’s first action.

But what if there are good intentions behind it? Cat H says: “I think it depends on the situation.

“For example, today, doing a good shop, we were putting food on the conveyor belt, and my lad, aged 2 years, was holding a multipack of crisps and handed them to the lady in the queue behind us.

“She nicely chatted away with him, keeping him amused and shook his hand. It was so sweet.”

And Lucie H says this: “When my son had just turned 2, we stopped in a service station cafe travelling home from visiting family.

“We had just finished eating and my son was running around our table and a man who worked there picked up my son in a playful manner, tickled him and put him next to us.

“He then apologised over and over again but we honestly didn’t mind at all.

“He was clearly just a friendly person playing with a child.”

Lots of you have mentioned that it’s often quite elderly people who touch your child – and, while you might not say anything, more often than not you’d probably rather they didn’t.

“No, sorry, I don’t like it,” says Emma H. “A man touched my daughter’s head a few weeks back. I didn’t have a go cos he was very elderly and it was a gentle tap on the head. But anyone pushes my child and I’ll break you – lol.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

In a situation where your child needs to be told to do something (like in the theatre situ mentioned), the final word from our mums is that they’d definitely prefer a stranger to talk to them – the parent – first.

May B puts it like this: ‘Nope [it’s never OK for a stranger to touch your child], even if it was in a helpful way, because it would cause a huge meltdown, which I’m sure is more stressful and harsh to witness than any other thing they would be doing.

“If my kids stood in a theatre it’s ‘cos I let them; if it’s disturbing you, you talk to me. I’ll sort it.”

Though we’re not all necessarily going to dress a stranger down for doing it, either, as Nicola I says:

“I’m a sensible person and can tell the difference between a kind stranger who loves kids and when it becomes inappropriate.

“I’m not about to go and shout at a stranger who’s being harmlessly sweet towards my children – as long as it doesn’t make them [my kids] uncomfortable, of course.”

What do you think?

Has a stranger ever touched your child in the ways mentioned above? Were you OK with it or not? Do you think it depends on the intention behind it?

Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook

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