A Truck Drove by The Bus Stop!

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This was a  notice sent out by an Iowa school district. As the resident who sent it to me wrote, “Evidently it is now a crime to even speak to a child waiting for the bus. Two men in a truck! Everybody run!” (Boldface mine.)
Subject: Stranger Danger Alert: 1300 Block of NW 92nd Street, Clive
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Dear West Des Moines Community Schools Families:
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The following information was reported to the Clive Police Department:
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On May 22, 2015 at 8:35 AM, an 11-year-old student reported waiting for the school bus in the 1300 block of NW 92nd Street in Clive. The student advised two white male adults driving a white pick-up truck pulling a trailer with a lawnmower, stopped and stated, “I think I know your name and your parents.” No other students were present during this incident.
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The 11-year-old said nothing and ignored the conversation. A short time later, the bus picked up the student and other students. The driver of the white truck immediately left the area in an unknown direction of travel. The student reported the incident to the bus driver and West Des Moines School staff. Anyone with information concerning this case is asked to contact the Clive Police Department at 515-278-1312.
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We are grateful that the child knew the Stranger-Danger rules, reported the incident to a responsible adult, and is safe. Please help us reinforce safety rules for students. Remind your children that they should not talk to strangers or accept rides from strangers. Ask your children to report to an adult any time a stranger has approached.
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Stranger Danger Rules Resources
Gee, do you think they give enough resources, considering the momentousness of this event? Those guys with lawnmowers are the WORST. And while we’re at it, here’s another notice someone forwarded me recently:
FYI
It was reported during fifth grade recess that there was a black car parked in the church parking lot with a woman in it.  Some of the kids thought she was taking pictures.  As teachers approached the car they did drive away.  I have contacted the police department to make them aware.  Please just keep a close eye on things as we come to the end of the school year.  If you see anything suspicious let Graham and I know.
 
Thanks everyone for all you do!
It sure feels great knowing that parked cars or moving cars — any cars containing adults — will be reported. Can’t have adults in cars around kids! You know what happens next! I shudder! – L.
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Oh no! MORE of them! Our poor children!

Oh no! Look at all of those! Our poor children!

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57 Responses to A Truck Drove by The Bus Stop!

  1. Beth H June 17, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    We had a very similar incident in our town lately that lead to multiple blast e-mails to all parents. A 5th grader waiting for a bus reported that there was a man in a van taking photos she thought of herself and others waiting for the bus. The 5th grader reported this and the police were notified. The police put out a call for information and the photographer in the van came forward and reported that he had been taking photos of the clouds as they were in a unusual pattern. He voluntarily showed the police the photos with the time and date stamp the same as the time of the incident. We then received another blast e-mail about this praising the student for reported what could have been a dangerous stranger! Here’s the story in our local paper: http://www.eastbayri.com/news/barrington-police-say-man-was-photographing-the-sky-not-girls/

  2. Nadine June 17, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Lol Beth, they probably werent child shaped clouds then or he still would have been in a lot of problems.

  3. Stacey June 17, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    It is not illegal to take photographs in public. Even if there are kids around. It is not illegal to paint a picture either. Just because your precious snowflakes our outdoors does not mean everyone must avoid them. Once you are out in the public domain, there is no privacy. Now, if they were peering into your house with a camera lens, that’s a different story. Public is public. Prior to the internet people took pictures and no one cared. Still doesn’t matter.

  4. Rick June 17, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    “If you see anything suspicious let Graham and I know.”

    A school official with poor grammar is far more dangerous than an adult parked in a car near kids. Just “let I know” otherwise.

  5. Emily June 17, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    Okay, the men in the white truck were a bit “clumsy” in their approaching the child–I mean, “I think I know your name and your parents” seems a bit off, but there’s nothing wrong with the sentiment. They could have said, “Hey, I think we know your parents from work/high school/university/Saturday morning yoga class/adult co-ed hockey/whatever.” Still, all I saw in that interaction was two men with less-than-perfect social skills, not potential kidnappers. As for the woman in the church parking lot who “looked like she was taking pictures,” my theory is that she might have been using the camera on her cell phone as a mirror, so, not actually photographing or filming anything; just fixing her make-up before going inside the church to attend (or set up for) a meeting, speak with a religious leader, audition for the choir, enroll her children in Sunday School or church camp, drop off food for the food pantry or craft items for an upcoming bazaar, et cetera, or do any of the myriad of things that people do at churches when church isn’t in session. Or, maybe the church wasn’t her final destination; she just needed someplace to park and look in her makeshift cell phone mirror. Either way, that scenario doesn’t scream “potential kidnapper” either; it screams “ordinary adult going about life.”

  6. David DeLugas June 17, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Though we certainly want children to be safe, the story Beth H. reports in her comment below represents a country in which we are UNNECESSARILY making children believe there is danger everywhere! How unsettling must it be for a child to grow up worried about every noise, word, vehicle, person, and building as if something horrible will come from each, every time. Imagine being so unnerved that any noise causes you to jump? Why then are we collectively doing this to our children? To protect them? Then be on the look out for the retailer who begins selling the lightning grounding rod accessory so that your child, if struck by lightning, will survive, only $99.95 plus S&H. These incidents are not ones that infringe on the Constitutional right of parents, so the National Association of Parents won’t be getting involved. But we do field emails and calls (to which we respond send an email to help@parentsusa.org) and rely upon membership dues and donations for our assistance for all parents, married and unmarried mothers and fathers. Thanks to Free Range Kids and Lenore for speaking out in support of common sense! https://www.parentsusa.org

  7. Maggie June 17, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Situation 1: Lawn guy recognizes kid of one of his customers.

    Situation 2: Lady in car pulled over to make a phone call. Left when she was finished with call.

    I’ve arrived early to pick up my kids at school, and have waved and spoken to kids I’ve recognized. I’ve even pulled out my phone and/or ipad and “lurked” until class let out or my kids showed up. If they dallied after class, I could be sitting there for 15-20 minutes. The “camera” is me pulling out my phone, trying to read the screen in the weird light, and calling the kid’s phones, asking were the heck are they.

    Never knew that I would be a “person of interest” because of this, and next time, I might end up down at the station explaining myself to the police.

  8. Warren June 17, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    Just proves what I have been saying all along. It is only going to get worse. Kids are the next generation, and it has been hammered into their heads that all strangers are out to get them. Now when these kids become parents just think of how paranoid they will make their kids.

  9. Neil M June 17, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    So I looked at one of the links about “stranger danger” and I found this:

    “Examples of “good” strangers may include police officers, security guards, teachers, store clerks, etc. These are all examples of people to turn to if when your child needs help.”

    How on earth is a seven-year-old supposed to be able to distinguish between a store clerk and a store customer? Or a parking enforcement officer from a police officer? There are *zillions* of people who work in security and wear blue uniforms, but that doesn’t mean they are “good” any more than someone in normal street clothing is “bad.”

    I’m no parent, but it seems to me that if you want to prepare children for danger, you teach them to distinguish not by the way a stranger looks but by how he/she *acts*. A stranger who says hello is fine; a stranger who asks a child to go somewhere–anywhere–is NOT fine. In fact, I think this rule works well for adults as well!

  10. Dhewco June 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    I used to like to people watch. I found it fascinating to see how they interact. Sometimes, the people were teens or preteens in the mall, at parks, amusement parks, and etc. I felt, as a writer of fiction where kids are main characters, that watching them in public was a better source of realism than watching sitcom brats.

    However, as the paranoia started to grow, I stopped. When I see a kid who’d be a perfect model for my character (to spur inspiration), I have to depend on memory rather than taking a photo or short vid. The ‘but I’m a writer’ defense is so overused, my own paranoia keeps me from thinking a crazed parent or over-worked police office would actually believe me.

    It’s just too much hassle. So, I’m using Google images or image websites to search for a characteristic or certain feature I might need to help me in my writing. I’d use Youtube for mannerisms or whatever, but most of those kids know they’re being filmed and they tend to start hamming it up for the camera.

    Anyway, I wish people would relax around people taking photos of their kids…but it’s not going to happen. I think it’ll only get worse.

  11. Sarah June 17, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Actually I disagree with you. The fact this 11 year old boy did the right thing you should be lauding it as kids making good decisions instead of bashing. That is how I first started to read it. Just like one of my young students who was attempted pickup at a park by someone. and she had the wherewithal (and training) to keep herself safe. What the boy did is a case FOR free-ranging. And so what with the adult response. Most good places advocate giving kids the skills to be able to handle things. I would think you would be promoting them rather then dissing it all.

    I also know of another case, of my sister’s students attempted kidnapping walking home from school. The more skills we give the better and the more kids can be safer and not helicoptered.

  12. Vicki Bradley June 17, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    We can only hope the pendulum will swing the other way, and life can go back to normal. These helicoptered kids will be so sick of the way the way they were raised that they’ll want to take a different (hopefully FRK) parenting approach with their own kids. It will be interesting to see what happens…

  13. Dhewco June 17, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Neil, good point. There was a police officer on America’s Most wanted who molested a girl from a self-defense class he taught (he also befriended the mother). A uniform doesn’t necessarily mean a good guy. Psychological testing doesn’t always make a difference either. It can condemn good people while allowing bad guys to slip through.

    We have to teach kids that not all strangers are bad and not all ‘friends’ are actually friends. We have to do it in a way that doesn’t make the kids terrified of everyone either. Train them to follow their judgment and in most cases you’ll be okay. You teach them to only follow rules and not trust themselves and it’s wishing for disaster.

  14. Warren June 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    Sarah,
    Actually the kid not going off with them is good. Not talking to them is a personal preference in parenting that I don’t really agree with.

    The issuing of an alert is way over the top, and that is what Lenore is saying. That a couple of guys saying Hi to a kid is not criminal, not suspicious and does not warrant alerts being sent home or police being called. That is the paranoid part of the story.

  15. Warren June 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    Sarah,
    My girls have been riding with me on service calls since the time it was safe enough for them to do so. They have come home a few times to tell me that a guy has recognized them. “Didn’t you come out and help your Dad with my tires?” My girls have engaged them in conversation, and came home with the message “So and So says Hi.”.
    There is nothing to suggest that this would not have been the case in this situation.

  16. Eric S June 17, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    Wow. Paranoia at it’s best! There’s being diligent and mindful. Then there’s this. This is just a waste of resources if the Police do follow up. If the same car and people show up again, and do the same thing with another kid, THEN I would have concern. But once? I make a mental note, and let it be. Chances are, that will be the last of that, and more likely, it was really just an innocent thing that everyone was getting bent out of shape over. So not only are they fearing themselves, they are now conditioning children to fear as well. A very dangerous thing to do. NEVER teach children to be fearful. Teach them to be smart and aware. Building their confidence and self-esteem is one of the key things to truly protecting your children. Mine talks to strangers all the time. He’s very inquisitive.

    Mine: “Why is your hair like that?”
    Man: “They’re called dreadlocks” (smiling and laughing).

    Yes, I let him continue his conversation, as the man explained to him what dreadlocks are. That is just one example of how he engages others. But he knows better than to go off with people he doesn’t know. Even with people he does know, he always informs us beforehand. And yes, I’ve taught him how to handle compromising situations, and how to protect himself if need be”. We don’t worry about him for the most part. As parents there will always be that part of us that gets apprehensive. But that is when we stop ourselves from being over come by paranoia, and allow common sense and reason to kick in.

    Reiterating again, there’s nothing wrong with talking to “strangers”. We just don’t go off with them.

  17. Emily Morris June 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I’m a teacher. Do I really have to listen to the tale of Every Single Stranger a student sees?

    That policy is going to get exhausting for the principal very fast.

    The two guys with the lawn mower? I bet you a dollar they did know the kid’s parents.

  18. Eric S June 17, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    @Neil M. The irony of that, is that most child abductions, abuse or assaults are done by people the child already knows. Like parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, priests, etc… So basically, that article you read is telling children to straight into the hands of the people that would more likely do harm to them.

    You are right though, never see strangers for being strangers, see them for who they really are. Good PEOPLE will never do anything to make the child feel uncomfortable, or do something they don’t want to do. Bad PEOPLE will manipulate children and coerce them to do as they say. Kind of like some Police and CPS workers. lol

  19. Emily Morris June 17, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Sarah,

    I’d agree with you IF the boy had gotten the icky gut feelings and IF the truck hadn’t driven off.

    And yet even those two things aren’t surefire evidence.

  20. Eric S June 17, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    “It is not illegal to take photographs in public.” Correctomundo Stacey. 😉

  21. Angela June 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Heck, we’re protecting adults (18 years old) from “dirty, old, creepy” men in cars.

    http://www.channel3000.com/news/man-who-tried-to-coax-teen-into-his-car-was-dirty-old-and-creepy/33605686

    Now I’ll admit, it would have made me a bit nervous. But arrest and charges?

  22. Brenna June 17, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    Emily, I think part of the point is that children have been taught and conditioned to have “icky gut feeling” when ANYTHING happens, or they’re spoken to by ANYONE they don’t know. By constantly teaching our kids they’re in danger, we’ve taken away their ability to use their instincts. We have overriden those instincts with fear of everything.

    How does a kid know not to be suspicious of a stranger when he or she is constantly told that strangers are dangerous, or that they WILL be kidnapped (not might, WILL) if they are alone, ever?

  23. dancing on thin ice June 17, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    Wasn’t anything learned from the segment on The Daily Show?
    2 guys in a white vehicle with lawn equipment must mean they’re rake-ists!

  24. Diana Green June 17, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    We live in an increasingly complex world. Today’s child of eleven will be 21 in ten years. What if he or she decided to join the military at 18yo, perhaps to pay for college.
    Would that young person be better equipped for their “job” being raised as a FRK or as a child taught not to speak to some workmen (professionals) in a truck who stopped to pass the time of day? If that youngster was in a foreign country, which parenting style would likely serve his/her needs?
    Some years ago this phenomenon–Americans turning away from “strangers”, behaving rudely–got us branded “ugly Americans”. Are we proud of that?
    The best thing about the Web is its connectedness with the Wide World. We turn our backs and look away to our own detriment.

  25. John June 17, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    Quote: “Remind your children that they should not talk to strangers or accept rides from strangers. Ask your children to report to an adult any time a stranger has approached.”

    These kind of stories drive me absolutely nuts. As a child growing up in the early 60s, I was told NEVER to accept rides or candy from strangers which is reasonable advice. But we Americans get absolutely ridiculous in telling kids never to even talk to strangers. Even though my parents warned me not to accept rides or candy from strangers, they always told me to be polite and acknowledge an adult, stranger or not, and to speak when spoken to. And then this school advises the kids to report to an adult any time a stranger has approached? Period? How about if a stranger tries to grab you?

    It seems as if we’re turning our children into a bunch of anti-social misfits who will be paranoid of everybody and everything!

  26. Naomi June 17, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    Yesterday my daughter was at camp and a short Kenyan woman came into the computer lab, asked her if her name was Katrina, and then hugged her, said she was a giant, oh and by the way I know your parents tell them ‘hi’! Katrina just kind of played along and pretended to know the woman (even though she didn’t remember her), assuming that she did in fact recognize her, and that the woman did, in fact, know her parents. (The woman was my 10th grade Algebra II teacher. My daughter was at a camp at the high school I attended.) I’m so glad she didn’t cry “stranger danger!” and get upset over such a thing. Much better to be amused by strange grown up behavior than fearful of it. 🙂

  27. shdd June 17, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    I remember being scared of strangers during the 2002 sniper attacks. My year old daughter and I rarely left home for those three weeks and we concentrated on teaching her how to walk and sing. Fortunately there were other children in the building and we would often visit other condos in the afternoon. After the attacks we realized we passed by a shooting site several minutes before the snipers struck. Every once in a while I pass by that area and remember those horrible days.

    Today there is no reason for my 13 year old to be scared of strangers. She will talk to strangers in the elevator, bus stop, or at the supermarket. Of course she does not remember that time or September 11th (a month before her birth) but the attitudes around her are shaped by those events.

  28. Emily Morris June 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    So yesterday in my area a 12-year-old boy was grabbed at a park. The kid pushes the man away, hopped on his bike, and called the police when he felt he was a safe distance away.

    Sounds like an appropriate reaction to me. Good job kid. Right? (And from the story details, it seems the boy was actually grabbed rather than just saw a guy)

    Most comments on the story also praised the boys reaction. Yet there were still “those ones”. “Glad the little guy is safe at home” (little guy? He’s 12). “Why wasn’t a parent on a park bench watching?” (He’s 12). Just saying mot 12-year-old boys can ride their bikes to local parks and even handle actual dangers when they occur.

  29. Emily Morris June 17, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    Brenna, you’re absolutely right. A gut feeling isn’t worth much when it’s pushed to uselessness by “everything is bad!”

  30. Liz June 17, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    Has anyone else noticed that the majority of these are either black cars or men in pickups/vans? So the lesson for anyone who actually wanted to abduct kids is to have a bright colored car, preferably a convertible so nobody will think their car is suspicious.
    The other constant is the “and then they sped away!” It doesn’t matter if they were leaving anyway, they LEFT before they could be interrogated about what they were doing anywhere near children, so they must have been up to no good! Normal, safe people don’t drive away!

  31. Beth June 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    “Okay, the men in the white truck were a bit “clumsy” in their approaching the child–I mean, “I think I know your name and your parents” seems a bit off”…..

    Even if it was “off”, is that worth all the drama the school created, and the stress on Stranger Danger (when, at some point, every adult in that school was a stranger to the child!), and list of resources?

    “Now I’ll admit, it would have made me a bit nervous. But arrest and charges?”

    I live in the area covered by channel3000 and saw this this morning too. I’m bothered not only by the arrest and charges, but by “guilty until proven innocent”. This guy hasn’t been convicted of one single thing, yet his booking photo is all over the internet with a lengthy description of what he might or might not have done, and his “creepiness”.

  32. Dhewco June 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    The old man story proves that some parents teach their kids that they shouldn’t get in the car with someone they don’t know. The man’s conduct is kind of creepy. However, if you saw the scene on ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and it was Barney hitting on a 18yo woman, you’d be laughing at his failure to get her.

  33. MichaelF June 17, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    I walked in early to my son’s elementary school last week to drop off some play props, then when one got damaged on the way in I had to come back home and pick up a spare piece. Going back to the school with a hammer and screwdriver in hand noted to the office, “just fixing a play prop.” No one batted an eye.

    Kids in the back of the school for BOKS, even a few in school.

    No sign in, nothing.

    Even when hammering in the gym no one came to check me out.

    It was like the old days.

  34. Ron Skurat June 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    This behavior really has nothing to do with protecting children – the psychology behind it is mainly about showing how superior a parent you are and increasing your status among other families. Also there’s element of ‘oh what an exciting day’ to it, ‘I can’t wait to tell Mom how I single-handedly prevented an atrocity’.

    The guys in the truck probably said ‘hey aren’t you Bob Smith’s kid?’ and that got mangled into something the kid knew would get attention & approbation; the old lady taking pictures was probably a kid’s grandma, but she can’t see him/her because her son & daughter-in-law aren’t speaking. Both are such sinister situations that clearly there should’ve been a lockdown county-wide – those old ladies are total perverts, as everyone knows, and guys in trucks, they’ve all read 50 shades of grey.

  35. JulieC June 17, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    At my son’s elementary school there was a girl whose parents were divorcing and she was living with the mother mostly. The dad had developed OCD and while he had some odd behaviors, he was by no means dangerous or anything like that. One day he came to school a bit early so he could wait for the bus that brought his daughter to school. He wanted to spend a few minutes with her. Some jerky parents actually called the school secretary to complain and demand that she get him out of there. Thankfully, she is a great person and filled with common sense and she told them she would do no such thing and that he was perfectly within his rights to wait for his daughter and give her a hug before school.

  36. Papilio June 17, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    @Diana Green: I sometimes feel like the #1 Hollywood lesson is that the foreigners (you know, those people who speak (almost) perfect American English but with a scary accent?) are always the bad guys…

  37. Mark June 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    Oh no.. we’re all gonna die! Hang on, we are. All of us. One day eventually. But to live in fear of death, harm, injury, threat to ourselves or others we hold dear and love, is to die a little every day. And to die well before our time. Remember a life lived in fear is a life half-lived. Maintain the rage Lenore.. this father of 3 wonderful, free-ranging kids supports everything you do!

  38. En Passant June 17, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    It was reported during fifth grade recess that there was a black car parked in the church parking lot with a woman in it. Some of the kids thought she was taking pictures. As teachers approached the car they did drive away. … If you see anything suspicious let Graham and I know.

    How much trouble would the late, great Henri Cartier-Bresson be in these days, for taking his magnificent 1954 snapshot of a proud independent child returning home from a shopping errand?

    https://dg19s6hp6ufoh.cloudfront.net/pictures/612047397/large/21.jpeg

    Not to mention how much trouble the kid would be in, for illegal possession of alcohol.

    Well, it was taken in Paris more than 60 years ago, but still worth noting.

  39. James Pollock June 17, 2015 at 10:55 pm #

    “How on earth is a seven-year-old supposed to be able to distinguish between a store clerk and a store customer? ”

    By which side of the counter they’re on. Kids are not as stupid as you seem to think.

  40. old school June 17, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

    @ James – Do you ever shop? I remember years ago when a lost young child in a Target store asked for help from my friend’s teenager because the teen was wearing a red shirt, similar in color to the standard store color. Well chosen on the child’s part, as the parent was quickly located without any fuss, drama, or store announcements. The child’s instincts were spot on, an no counters were involved at any time.
    On a separate point – Why are you so grumpy? Your obsession with Warren is growing old. It seems as if you idolize him and are seeking some sort of superiority. While it is amusing to observe your futile efforts, your obsession is not in synch with the goals of promoting responsible parenting, helping others when appropriate, and fostering independence in children.

  41. sexhysteria June 18, 2015 at 12:31 am #

    We’re so lucky that government employees are looking out for us.

  42. James Pollock June 18, 2015 at 2:28 am #

    “On a separate point – Why are you so grumpy? Your obsession with Warren is growing old. It seems as if you idolize him and are seeking some sort of superiority. While it is amusing to observe your futile efforts, your obsession is not in synch with the goals of promoting responsible parenting, helping others when appropriate, and fostering independence in children.”

    I’ve never done well at suffering fools gladly, I guess? “He started it!” is a bit childish, but accurate in this case.

    Some websites have a tool whereby you can block out specific users’ comments. Alas, this is not one of them, and such filtering must be done manually.

  43. Warren June 18, 2015 at 2:54 am #

    Old school,
    James has some serious self-esteem issues, for which I hope he seeks help.

  44. James Pollock June 18, 2015 at 3:10 am #

    Warren tends to project his inadequacies upon others. It’s quite telling.

  45. Ceridwen June 18, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    No reason to believe the boy accurately quoted the men in the truck. Kids don’t always quote accurately. The woman who shamed a man for taking selfies said that her children told her he’d said he was sending their picture to a sixteen year old, when he reported himself as telling them he was sending a selfie to his children. The selfie pic on his phone tended to uphold his version. So, a child at a bus stop, at a time when there may have been a lot of traffic, may have misheard. Even without the traffic, he may have misheard.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if they’d actually asked him why his parents weren’t waiting at the stop with him?

  46. Beth June 18, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    WHY oh why are kids being taught that someone taking pictures is scary and needs to be reported?

    Hope their parents never take them to Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon or….any place where myriads of spooky scary people hang out.

  47. anonymous mom June 18, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    I also agree that the child may not have been giving a verbatim quote. It might have been something more like “Don’t I know you and your parents?”

    The story of the 18yo Madison woman somebody linked to is insane. Yeah, old guys persistently hitting on you is not cool. But, assuming they aren’t actually threatening you or forcing you to do anything, you say no and move on with your life. You don’t need to involve the police every time a guy is being pushy.

    We are raising a generation of young people, especially young women, who believe their primary identity is that of victim or potential victim. That is not going to end well.

  48. anonymous mom June 18, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Also, the picture-taking hysteria is weird. I blame SVU and Lifetime movies and other media showing the stereotypical situation of the pedophile who stalks a child for months, taking pictures, before attempting to abduct them (whenever they bust a pedophile, they always have a darkroom where they are developing roll after roll of pictures of children playing in the park). But, in real life, does that even happen? Even if some creep is taking creepy pictures of your kids for creepy purposes, they are just going to look at them, not try to assault or abduct your kid. But, again, we’re basing our sense of reality more on Law and Order than on actual reality.

    My kids can’t be the only ones who, if they saw an adult with a camera, would run over and demand to have their pictures taken. Because they are hammy, egotistical little monsters. But at least they know that nobody else wants them. 😉

  49. Buffy June 18, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    @anonymous mom, not only the darkroom but once the police gain access to the “perp’s” residence, there is always the Serial Killer Arts & Crafts Wall! Only On TV.

  50. That_Susan June 18, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    LOL, maybe the men in the pick up were trying to get enough information to make a CPS report about the 11-year-old waiting on his own for the bus.

  51. Michelle June 18, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    “LOL, maybe the men in the pick up were trying to get enough information to make a CPS report about the 11-year-old waiting on his own for the bus.”

    I want this to happen so badly! The perfect storm of stranger danger paranoia.

  52. Jim Collins June 18, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    I used to eat my lunch at a near by park. I stopped after having the Police come over and ask me what I was doing and did I know that some of the parents were uncomfortable with my being there.

  53. anonymous mom June 18, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    @Jim, didn’t you know that parks are only for children? But, of course, not children alone, because parks aren’t safe places for children.

  54. Havva June 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    @En Passant,
    Also striking to today’s eye in that snapshot, there are other young children on the sidewalk behind the main subject with no adult hovering.

    My daughter seems to attract a fair number of photographers. I had considered that a bit strange and hoped it wouldn’t go to her head. My husband gets a good laugh over a bunch of tourists descending on her when she visited the national mall, all taking pictures of her feeding the birds, despite the monuments around her.

    At a recent event, I got a whole new perspective on the phenomena. I was letting my daughter do her thing (having a tea party with a toddler) and I hung back a bit and watched as a small crowd gathered, I even got a photo of her being photographed. After a while I wanted to move on, but she hadn’t lost interest. So I went over to warn her we would be leaving in a few minutes. Someone asked in a voice of concern if I was my daughter’s mother. I confirmed I was, and was quick to point out that I had been standing a few feet away watching the whole time. Most of the crowd instantly dispersed.

    The incident sort of made me feel queasy that my daughter has perhaps been attracting so much attention simply because my husband and I don’t have her completely velcroed to us when out in public. Since when did a content child safely and happily focused on her play warrant such attention? When did such a site become rare enough to be noteworthy?

  55. James Pollock June 18, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    “Even if some creep is taking creepy pictures of your kids for creepy purposes, they are just going to look at them, not try to assault or abduct your kid. But, again, we’re basing our sense of reality more on Law and Order than on actual reality.”

    Well, yes, far too many people think what they see on television is real.
    Yes, real people who abduct and kill children tend to start with lesser acts and work their way up. On TV, though, they tend to ONLY follow the one who turns out to be the killer, and they don’t show all the other people who, for example, enjoy the company of children but aren’t looking to harm them. Over time, through reinforcement, you get the idea that anyone taking pictures of children MUST be the type of person who harms children, because, on TV, the person who harms children always starts by just taking pictures of them.

  56. Puzzled June 19, 2015 at 12:16 am #

    James – I agree. (Stunning, I know.) Even if, by supposition, every kidnapper began their “career” with photography, it could still be the case (and likely would be) that most people who take creepy photographs, for creepy reasons, would never graduate to kidnapping. But if the only photographers portrayed are those who do graduate to worse things…

    What never made sense to me about people’s particular fears is the amount of planning they seem to think it takes to kidnap a kid. On tv, the kidnapper has that crazy bulletin board, the walls covered with pictures, goes to bizarre lengths to figure out where a particular child will be…in reality, I can see that kind of thing happening with people who kidnap the children of the rich and famous, or politicians – but the predators they’re afraid of would be more likely to just look around for kids (if there were enough of them for them to be a significant risk.)

    Why would a kidnapper need to take a picture of your kid, then find you on Facebook, figure out your schedule…?

    Heck, even if some creep graduated from photography to kidnapping, it doesn’t follow that they’d be kidnapping the kids they photographed…

  57. Sarah J June 21, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Puzzled: Ha ha, for real. And I would imagine that most kidnappers who focus on snatching up a specific kid, rather than taking some random one, probably already know the child in some way. I mean, there has to be some way the obsession is fueled, yes?

    Beth H: That’s nuts. I’ll repeat what other commenters have said: taking photographs in public isn’t illegal. It’s ridiculous to encourage people to report “suspicious” photographers, because honestly, what are you going to do? Even if the guy was taking pictures of kids, you can’t charge him.