I'm horrified by how easy it was...

I was shopping in Toys ‘r’ Us, and I exchanged a few words with a woman who was in the store with a little girl about four or five years old, and also an infant. I nodded hello and then went on my way.

I was still near where they were shopping, and saw the little girl had wandered off on her own while the mother was occupied with the baby. She looked up and noticed the girl was gone, and called out, “Cindy? where are you?” (made up name 'cause I don’t remember the real one).

I could see where she was (ignoring mom as kids do the world over). I walked over and said, “Cindy? Your mom wants you. Come with me and I’ll take you to her.” She docilely followed me back to where her mom was.

Only afterward did I get the shakes as I realized how easy it would have been for me to lead that little girl out of the store and then bundle her into a car. All I needed was her name and she trusted me without question. Of course I would never do such a thing but imagine if a pedophile had overheard the woman calling her daughter and seized the opportunity. It’s a horrifying thought.

And my son is a very friendly boy of 5 who is quite willing to talk to strangers. I’ve tried to explain stranger danger to him but making the distinction just isn’t working for him. I have to keep him in constant line-of-sight to keep my peace of mind.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

That is scary! My nephew is four and he doesn’t quite grasp stranger danger either. The only thing you can do is watch them, like a hawk. Thank God most people are decent, caring strangers like you.


Byz is right that most people are decent. I don’t have kids myself, but I would think it’s simply impossible to watch them every minute. It’s only the fact that predators are rare that makes it usually ok.

Here’s another aspect to the topic. I have on more than one occasion been forced to drag a recalcitrant child out of some place he didn’t want to leave, with said child kicking and screaming the whole way. Not once has anyone paid the slightest attention.

So parents, it isn’t enough to teach the little darlings to kick and scream if someone grabs them. Get 'em to scream, “Let me go! I DON’T KNOW YOU!” and maybe people will wake up and stop the snatcher.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

And some people wonder why some parents actually put their kids on leashes.


There was a absolutely terrible case here where two 11 year olds led a two year old away out of a shopping centre and along main roads, before killing him.

Apparently just one adult asked what was going on (because the victim was distressed). The two older kids said they were going to the police.

I don’t understand why the adult didn’t insist on going along, but I suppose our social instincts are to mind our own business.

I had a sort of sickening reaction to my first visit to Circus Circus in Las Vegas. My (now) husband and I were looking at the various hotels’ wedding chapels and while we were looking there we stumbled into what I assume is the “kid’s area” which is like a giant arcade with video and boardwalk type games. I saw maybe 3 parents for the possible 500+ kids that were there. The adults, I’m sure, are thinking “oh this will keep my kids busy while I gamble upstairs for 8 hours or so” but that place was so big, and loud, and poorly lit that I can’t believe it wouldn’t be a candy store for pedophiles. I mean, you could grab a kid under each arm and just walk out if you wanted to. No one would even hear them screaming, and if they did they’d just assume “oh they want to stay and mom & dad are ready to go.” Ugh. I said “This place gives me the creeps – let’s get out of here!” We’ve been to Vegas many, many times since, but never gone back to that casino.

I think it’s hard to know exactly what to teach your kids about talking to strangers.

We live outside of town, have neighbors, but a little ways from each other. One day, my 2 year old granddaughter decided to walk a mile down the road to see the horses there. (Our house sits back off the road but you can see for quite a distance.) My daughter, discovering the child gone, immediately starting searching for her, but going in the wrong direction (she had never even indicated any interest in the horses). She finally found her, because 2 women, out for a health walk, had passed her on the road. Now on this stretch there were no houses at all for about half a mile. They passed this 2 year old child walking by herself and didn’t even ask what she was doing! When my daughter stopped them and asked them if they had by chance seen her, they told her about passing her. We were so upset and could not figure out why adults would not even question the presence of a small child alone on a country road.

Then, last week, my husband and I were leaving for work and a young boy about 5 years old was walking toward the highway on this same road. (About 3:30 in the afternoon) We passed him, and wondered why he might be walking there (he was near some houses). Then I said STOP! We wondered why those women had not stopped our grandchild and now we knew! You take a chance when you help other people’s children. Your motives could be suspect. All this went through my mind as we backed up and asked the boy where he was going (Turned out he was planning to walk to his mom’s place of work several miles away since she wasn’t home when he got in from school and he didn’t want to stay alone!). He got into the car with us and we made sure he got back home safely. All the time, though, I was thinking, oh my god, he just got in the car without question and the things that can happen to kids . . . .

I feel that I did the right thing, but it just scares me to death to realize how vulnerable, sweet and innocent children are.

I’ve been in this situation a few times also, and you can’t help thinking if someone will react wrongly if you are helping.

I read something recently that said that teaching kids to “fear” strangers and look for a police officer can actually be harmful. There are not that many police officers around in most situations, and there were kids that were hiding from the other “straingers” that probably could have helped them. It sounded a little sexist, but they recommended they look for a woman since they are more likely to follow through with finding them help and are a lower danger, and it also told them to follow their instincts (I believe it was ABC news).

I have three kids 5 and under, so this is something that I think about from time to time. I would be a “strainger” who would be glad to help. I just wish there was some way to let the kids easily identify the good straingers from the bad ones.

There are some chances you just gotta take, unfortunately; you kind of have to hope the odds are with you.

I’ve taught my kids to look for a police officer or fireman, of course, but that’s not very practical. I do tell them to look for a mommy (a lady with children), because I’m banking on a mom with kids being willing to help out another kid (I certainly would be). Yeah, it’s sexist, but I give the preference to the mommy. The next preference, though, is to the daddy – he is to be preferred over single folk.

Oh, by the way, give your kids a password, so that they know that it’s okay to go with someone. It has happened exactly once in almost fifteen years of parenting that I’ve needed it, but I’m glad I had it when I did. Tell your kid that if somebody comes to say “Mommy sent me to pick you up” or some such thing, that they are not to go with that person unless they know the password. It might be the dog’s name (Spot said it was okay for you to come with me) or it might be some favorite character (Mom said to tell you Superman says it’s okay to come with me), but it’s something that’s a signal to the kid that this person really has been sent by mom. Or dad.

It’s a nasty world when we have to be so concerned.


I experienced this same type of terror last week while out shopping with my four year-old niece. She has a tendency to pitch temper tantrums in stores (Did I mention she is four?)

Well, in the midst of a tantrum, I just picked her up to take her to the car. I walked out of a busy mall at Christmas time carrying (like a sack of potatoes) a struggling child screaming, “You’re not my mommy!” The only attention we received from other shoppers was when two elderly ladies looked at us in disgust and shook their heads.

After I got her in the car and had a chance to reflect on what had happened, I felt sick. I am definitely going to pay closer attention in stores from now on.

The margarine of evil

If it makes any of you feel any better, the other day a small child told my fiancé that he was a “bad man!” When Carl asked why, the kid told him that mommy said men who looked like him (long hair, black trenchcoat, etc.) were bad


Killed a man with no hands. . .

Cessandra – they ARE bad. That’s why women LIKE them! :wink:

About 15 years ago, my mother was flying alone by way of Toronto, where she had a long layover. Waiting in the terminal, she sat near a woman who had a very small child, and had been travelling for over a day, with a leg or two left. She was exhausted. My mother finally offered to watch the baby while the woman took a nap on the seats. The tired woman accepted, but my mother later thought that it was incredibly brave – or foolhardy – of her.

I don’t think that would happen nowadays.