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Playdates and hand-me-downs could lead to murder

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Shocking ways mixing your kids and strangers can be dangerous

Meeting friendly moms in the park doesn't always raise red flags, but for one Georgia mom, it ended in her death. And now I'm paranoid to agree to bring my kids around anyone we don't know, as I'm wondering if playdates and hand-me-downs could lead to murder. But before I keep my kids on lockdown, there are a few steps I plan to take to ensure the kindness of strangers is safe.

Like many moms of three kids would be, Natalia Roberts was overjoyed when Catherine Goins offered Roberts hand-me-down baby clothes for Roberts' 3-week-old daughter. But when the single mom showed up with her 3-week-old and 3-year-old daughters at a home in Ringgold, Georgia, Goins shot Roberts in the back of the head, attempted to clean up the crime scene and fled the home with Roberts' two children. Now in custody, Goins is accused of murder, and authorities are speculating she was planning to pass off the newborn as her own.

While I'm tempted to cancel some current playdates I've already scheduled with moms I just met, you and your children can still play it safe when interacting with strangers and their kids. First off, don't worry about hurting someone else's feelings. You don't have to say yes to every stranger who wants a playdate; go with your gut. But if you do want to meet up with other moms and their kids you don't know well, then make initial playdates in public places until you get a feel for these newfound friends.

In the beginning, remember to not share too much personal info about your residence or where your kids go to school or day care. I hate to seem paranoid, but you never know a stranger's motives or where they plan to show up unexpectedly. And before you hit the playground or the trampoline park, make sure someone else knows where playdates will be and who they're with when you're getting to know a stranger.

When it comes to your kids, it's better safe than sorry. While I'd like to think most people have good intentions, playdates and hand-me-downs could lead to murder if you trust too easily. Natalia Roberts didn't deserve what Catherine Goins did to her or the children Roberts left behind, regardless of whether she had faith in someone she didn't know. But with a little discretion and the willingness to take things slow, your newfound mommy friend and her kids could become your new besties instead of a tragedy waiting to happen.

More tips for safe playdates

This is why we shouldn't banish playdates
Your guide to an awesome playdate
Make-ahead snacks for playdates

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