Is it alright to use a harness on a young child? People glare at me like I have a dog on a leash!

Be practical. Today's harnesses are often disguised as a cute back pack but the doberman setup is fine. No matter what looks you get, I'd rather control a darter around traffic or the busy mall than face a traffic fatality or abduction. I saw my first one 3 decades ago and was surprised and concerned. Years later, I have watched a darter die in the ICU that a harness would have saved.
CHILD HARNESS. Normally we don't do it to a child but if he is uncontrollable and it is more convenient for you to do it avoiding danger while travelling, then harness will do the job. Please be careful!