My wife and I use signal language with the kids as a way to surreptiously know that they’re crossing a behavioral line, but a speaker at a middle school orientation keyed us into another use of language: codewords to signal for help from Mom and Dad.
Nobody likes to take grief from others, and kids are especially susceptible to peer pressure. The idea is to provide a ready reason for refusing to go along with whatever dubious idea that some kids have concocted and letting the folks be the bad guys in the entire affair. Your kid is removed from a bad situation and manages to save face in the process. A win/win.
Most kids now have cellphones, or at least access to one. Work it out with Junior that if he has a situation that makes him uncomfortable, he should get you on the phone on the pretext of letting you know about a change in schedule because of the idea. Once you’re on the phone, he can use the predetermined codeword as he lets you know of the assumed schedule change. When you hear the word – and you have to train yourself to actually respond when you hear it – you put on a huge fuss, chewing him out for something and ordering him home that instant. Junior can then bow out of the situation on grounds that he’s dead meat at home and has saved face in front of the other kids.
A worthwhile idea, and one that I’ve now put in place. Because your kid might be concerned about what others think, but that’s the least of your issues as a father.