I understand why the mods always lock a post that has a debate about them. It seems that people who don't use them tend to have VERY strong feelings that no one else should, either. People who do use them are not so adamant that others do so.
Here's what I don't get: Everyone in the debate seems to be doing what they think is necessary to keep their children safe. What is so wrong about that?
When I was a kid, I was a roamer. I hated staying with my mom when she was shopping, and so I would run off every chance I got. As long as I was in her sight, mom didn't seem to care. Two things about this. First of all, twenty years ago people were not so worried about child predators. Secondly, we never shopped in supercrowded places.
Several times, when I was three or four, I scared my mom to death. I would run off to another part of the store or hide in the clothes racks. Once, I got separated from them in an amusement park. So my mom got a wrist cord. One end attatched to her wrist, and the other to mine. She couldn't hold my hand, because I wasn't tall enough to walk with her while holding her hand. It hurt my arm. I hated the wrist strap. My mom is a fast walker, and I had to run to keep up with her. With the wrist strap, it was awful. But she always knew where I was. That was what was important. It only took a few months with the strap to get me to stay with her. She said, "You don't have to wear this if you'll stay with me all the time. But as long as you want to run off, you have to wear this and be connected to mommy." After that, I never had a problem again.
Personally, child predators scare the crap out of me. I am so terrified of losing my Toby. When he starts walking, I imagine I will need to invest in one of those cute little backpack harnesses. He already hates to be swaddled, clothed, etc. I don't think I should impede his exploring tendancy just to avoid people looking at us strangely.
I understand why people don't like the idea of a child harness. But for me, I would rather have that peace of mind and risk lifelong therapy for him, than to constantly be panicking and wondering where he has run off to, or to keep him confined in a stroller untill he's ten.