From “A Stranger Talked to a Girl” to “MY GOD WHAT IF IT’S A SEX TRAFFICKER?!?”

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Having just watched a 1960s-era video clip of a New Guinea toddler teaching himself how to use a machete, I am even more impatient with our current day culture that insists on seeing every child activity as a brush with death. Consider this insane news report, sent to us by alert commenter Alisha, in Arizona. As KVOA reports:

Catalina High School addresses student encounters with a stranger

TUCSON – A case of stranger danger at Catalina High School has administrators taking action.

Two girls said they were approached by the same man near campus a few weeks ago, so a meeting to talk about safety was called for Thursday evening.

There have been no new incidents since these two girls reported the strange encounters. But with no suspects and no arrests, the school doesn’t want to wait for a third.

“According to both girls, he was trying to pull them into an isolated spot,” said Catalina Principal Kathi Shaw.

Sensing something was not right, both students left the scene and reported what had happened to the school and police.

“I don’t want to think that any of my students could ever be in danger,” said Shaw.

Freshman Ariah Gomez said he knows one of the students who was approached.

“She was really scared,” said Gomez. “She’s started walking with more people walking with mace in her purse.”

According to the girls, the man told them he was from Pima Community College and wanted to interview them.

“It feels very weird,” said Gomez.

Council member Steve Kozachik is worried the man may have been up to something much more sinister. 

“It might be a broader issue, though also, some guy putting the young girls in jeopardy as to being trafficked,” he said. “It’s a national and an international issue and we ought to be talking about it as a community and we ought to be talking about it in our schools.”

To address that issue and safety in general, the school hosting hosted a neighborhood meeting this very evening in its auditorium Thursday night.

As Alisha wrote:

Here is the reason I need your help in figuring out what I can do to help my community regain their common sense! In one fell swoop we go from someone asking to interview a teenage girl for a college project to human trafficking! I’m not saying that the guy wasn’t a creep but really what’s more likely, a college age guy doing some social study who awkwardly tries to interview a couple pretty girls or some sicko trying to grab a girl and sell her into sexual slavery?

Let’s look at the facts- He tried on two separate days to talk to two different girls in broad daylight on a very busy street with lots of foot traffic. If he was trying to abduct them I’d think he’d pick a much more secluded spot during a quieter time of day when it’s easy to isolate someone instead of in the middle of the mass exodus of 800 students leaving school for the day.

Now I know the girls said he tried to “pull them into an isolated area.” I watched an interview with one of the “victims” later and she made it clear he never touched her or tried to touch or pull her. Instead it sounded like he gestured or suggested they move to a quieter spot, which makes sense if you are trying to interview someone like he said….

The councilman said this might be a broader issue and that this is a national and international issue. Now I know Tucson has a few issues and we are close to the Mexican boarder, but in my 35+ years of living here I have yet to hear of a single high school girl who was abducted and sold into slavery in broad daylight in front of a school. …

Anyways this is exactly why I need your help figuring out how to start talking to these councilmen or representatives about using common sense.

Okay, readers: My advice is for her to simply share this post, which lays out the preposterousness of the fears just beautifully. But if you have other sanity-restoring ideas, please share them! – L

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This is Catalina HS. Now imagine 800 students at dismissal time. Does this seem like the scene of a near kidnapping?

Dear Lawmakers: This is Catalina High. Now imagine 800 students at dismissal time. How likely does a broad-daylight, no-weapon, stranger-danger kidnapping seem?

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87 Responses to From “A Stranger Talked to a Girl” to “MY GOD WHAT IF IT’S A SEX TRAFFICKER?!?”

  1. lollipoplover February 2, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    “I don’t want to think that any of my students could ever be in danger,” said Shaw.”

    So I guess the principal bans driving to school?

    Bans football, wrestling, soccer, and any other contact sports?

  2. Amy Utzinger February 2, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    I’m also from Tucson and I live not far from this school. Generally I find Tucson to be more Free Range than a lot of places I’ve read about. There is no ‘pick-up line’ from elementary schools with students being escorted to waiting cars, or anything like that. My kids have all walked, biked, or rode the school or city bus to school since they were little, with no interference.

    But it seems like this is a case of ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ by the local media. It was a small incident blown all out of proportion, and of course a local politician had to get his 10 seconds on the air with a bit of sensationalist commentary.

    I’ve lived in Tucson for close to fifteen years, and in that time there was one (and only one) horrible story of a girl who was kidnapped. It is still unclear what happened, but a 9-year-old disappeared from her home overnight and hasn’t been seen since. People still talk about it and how it shows that no kid is safe, even in their own home! But I think it shows that almost all kids are safe almost all of the time. And bad things can happen, even in a kid’s own home. Nothing is 100% safe, but most things are pretty darn safe.

  3. BL February 2, 2016 at 10:27 am #

    @Amy Utzinger
    “I’ve lived in Tucson for close to fifteen years, and in that time there was one (and only one) horrible story of a girl who was kidnapped. It is still unclear what happened, but a 9-year-old disappeared from her home overnight and hasn’t been seen since. ”

    We had one of those here in central Pennsylvania. Only it was 51 years ago next month and she was six. Still unsolved. 🙁

    http://patch.com/pennsylvania/northhills/unsolved-cases-kathleen-ann-shea-333335b3

  4. E February 2, 2016 at 11:14 am #

    ““According to both girls, he was trying to pull them into an isolated spot,” said Catalina Principal Kathi Shaw.”

    Any college kid that tries to “interview” girls by asking them to go with them to an “isolated” spot is an idiot or not actually there for said purpose.

    Dunno — sounds like information that’s worth sharing, but it seems like the local politicians are enjoying getting their soundbites on record. The reality is — anything that might be done to someone against their will is undesirable outcome. I guess “trafficking” is a nice buzzword though.

    I believe in the teen/mall issue posted here recently it was a politician/councilman with the most charged comments too.

  5. E February 2, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    “I watched an interview with one of the “victims” later and she made it clear he never touched her or tried to touch or pull her. Instead it sounded like he gestured or suggested they move to a quieter spot, which makes sense if you are trying to interview someone like he said….”

    If you are going to assume the unknown person is being honest, you have to assume that the other person is too right? If they felt his suggestion was inappropriate and they felt uncomfortable — don’t we have to accept that at face value.

    It’s completely possible this person was not ill-intentioned, but that doesn’t mean that his way of communicating and handling the situation wasn’t odd or creepy. It can be both.

  6. BethS February 2, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    I don’t understand this “epidemic” of sex trafficking. Some huge enormous number of kids are supposed to be involved in trafficking at any given time….so shouldn’t we be hearing about multiple kidnappings every day? Seems to me all these kids had to come from somewhere.

  7. Havva February 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    ““I don’t want to think that any of my students could ever be in danger,” said Shaw.”
    And that right there is the heart of the problem.

    We have people in influential positions who are so unable to cope with the reality that the students and younger children are mortal, that they want to believe that all danger is either non-existent or catastrophic. Which means of course being constantly shocked into red alert mode at the drop of a hat, because of course there are dangers in the world. Of course teen girls have good reason to not want to go to some secluded spot with a complete stranger. And of course no one wants them “pulled” anywhere by anyone. But the person receiving the report has to stay calm enough to know the difference between being the reporter being “pulled” somewhere and a stranger recommending they go somewhere. The principal has to be able to look at alternate probable explanations and ask smart questions, or make smart moves to determine both how likely, and how dangerous, and if/how to allocate resources to look at the situation. There are enough dangers in the world that all of us are going to have to face something, someday, maybe multiple somethings. With 800 students, real, serious, stuff is going to happen to a good number of them in the course of a school year. Any principal who isn’t prepared to find out that some students are experiencing various dangers such as (doing drugs, being abused, secretly hanging out with adults who’s intentions are questionable, are having suicidal thoughts, driving unsafely, or just are not listening to the safety instructions in chemistry class) is not a person prepared to run a high school. As my husband likes to say, “you can’t live on red alert.”

    The principal has to trust that her students aren’t about to be picked off like flies because, hopefully, some time before they came to inhabit a nearly adult form, they already learned that even grown ups don’t go running off to secluded places because some random stranger suggested it. And the adults have to convey that calm to the students, by responding to such reports not with panic, but with calm questions and an honest concluding assessment like. “Sounds like you handled that well.” or “I see why you were concerned, but you also seem really shaken, would you like to talk to [counselor]? I think s/he could help you feel more confident in your ability to handle questionable situations like this.”

    Or if, after asking and answering the questions, it really does seem dangerous (say they really were pulled), it still doesn’t pay to panic, because panic doesn’t lead to smart plans that can help track down and stop someone intent on harm.

  8. Caroline February 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    To be honest, this one doesn’t strike me as TOO crazy. Yes, the ‘OMG, they were almost kidnapped’ reaction is over the top, but I’m not sure that talking to the kids about safety is such a bad thing. It sounds like these girls did exactly the right thing – followed their gut, which told them he was creepy, and moved away. I think it’s possible to remind kids of basic safety regarding any situation that makes them uncomfortable, without terrifying them and making them think they need to carry mace around with them.

  9. Vaughan Evans February 2, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    When I was 8 years old, and went for a bicycle ride, a man in a car approached me and gave me some advice on bicycle safety.

    He did NOT do anything obscene to me.

    No adult EVER did anything obscene to me.

  10. pentamom February 2, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    E — we didn’t actually hear from any of the girls that he was trying to pull them to an isolated spot. That may have been the principal’s gloss on what SHE heard.

    So we have one actual first-hand testimony that he wasn’t doing that, and no actual first-hand testimony that he was.

  11. Vaughan Evans February 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    It used to be that if a parent had to go out, she might ask a neighbor-as a favour-to watch the kids(Inb the old days, neighboufrs helped one another; you did not expect to be paid for every little thing you did.)

    -Nowadays, people do not get to know their neighbor.

    An importrant reason for this is that today’s woman does not want to follow the ideals tha their mothers and grandmothers do.

    It used to be that a girl was trained for the values she would do-as a mother, homemaker-and a source of womanly love-to her husband and children.

    Married women used to make up the core-of Volunteer work.

    Now, this source has dried, up. If married women aren’t busy working, they are chauffeuring their SPOILED children-to school-and to activities.

    I wasn’t chauffeured everywhere.

    Even senior citizens are finding that the Golden Years are NO time of res and relaxation.. They, too chauffeur children to school-and to activities. They baby sit their granchildren-while the mothers go out to work.
    In my province of British Columbia in Canada, many Home Support Workers have been laid off.(Home support workers provide services to enable elderly and disabled persons stay in their homes.

    -It used to be that married women would often-as a favour-drive old people to shopping-and to appointments.
    Now my city has a hard time getting volunteers-to do these things.

  12. hineata February 2, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    @Beth S – 99.9999% of that number, to my admittedly non-expert knowledge, are from the 3rd World. Awful as trafficking is, it’s not something that affects we Westerners much, unless you’re Liam Neeson.

  13. bob magee February 2, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    did he have a white van? If not, then not an “official child snatcher” or “teen sex trafficker”…

    Council member Steve Kozachik actually works for University of Arizona. Find that ironic since the “menace” identified as a college student.

    the 2 girls were spooked more by a lifetime of “stranger danger” than by the request from this slightly older male.

    Did anyone involved at the HS check with Pima CC about this assignment?

    How did a council member get involved with this non-story?

    I hope these 2 girls are not seniors planning on going to college next year – they are clearly not yet ready for the world at large.

  14. Anna February 2, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    I’m sure human trafficking is a real problem, but this idea that cared-for, middle-class kids are at high risk of being snatched and sold into slavery just seems bizarre to me. If you were running a human trafficking ring – presumably for profit – would you go around snatching random kids off the street whose disappearance will be followed by amber alerts and a national hue-and-cry, or would you concentrate your efforts on vulnerable populations whose disappearance won’t be noticed, like teen run-aways, illegal immigrants, etc.?

  15. Betsy in Michigan February 2, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

    Don’t quote me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that many of the cases of middle class America sex trafficking happened to kids who are vulnerable – foster kids, runaways, kids being raised by computers (instead of the adults who are responsible for them), others in situations where they can’t trust their adults, etc. In the sad recent case of the 13 year old killed by Virginia Tech students, she climbed out the window in the night to meet this creep she may have met online. Parents who are involved in their children’s lives in a healthy way work to make sure that their children are self-confident enough to not fall prey to traffickers (or religious cultists, for that matter). When I was a teen in the late 70’s my best friend (and half the town) went to an orthodontist who frankly, creeped us out with his oily manner. We both decided that since he was never alone in a room with us, it was not worth mentioning how uncomfortable we were with him to our parents. When he had to leave town several years later, it was because of shady financials, not because of anything sexual in nature (it was never anything he said, just his manner, which he probably thought was friendly. There have always been creeps – teach your kids to steer clear of them, and know when to alert authorities.

  16. Vaughan Evans February 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    Many little girls suspect me.
    I was sitting in a lounge of a community centre in Vancouver. A little girl nearby asked her mother, “Why is this man so cross?’
    Once I was at a storytelling session, A little girl asked the storyteller,”What is this man doing?”
    She said, “He is listening.
    Even in 1977, many educators were concerned about what television has done to children.(My kid brother used to have nightmares-from watching television.
    Since 1977, things have gotten worse. Kids are conditioned-not only from television, but from Video Games-and porn movies.
    The best favour we could do for children is to prohibit television, computers(except in limited circumstances–and to let them careen and carouse.
    If children are unfit, it is BECAUSE we do not let them be kids.
    Many parents will not let their children climb trees-because they are afraid that they will fall.

  17. Glen February 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    I teach kids to go with their gut, most of the time it is enough to keep them out of trouble. I applaud them. They did something good. The next step taken was a reaction from administrators who live in fear of being sued for not doing SOMETHING. Herein lies the problem – thank the lawyers and the scourge of frivolous lawsuits. The second problem is the media, they love this stuff.

  18. Dee February 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

    I think the leap to sex trafficking is a huge, unnecessary leap, but overall I think the girls who were approached did what we teach in freerange parenting, which is, when your creep-meter raises get the heck on out of there and tell someone. Kudos to the girls.

  19. K February 2, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    We had one of these in my community recently. A man in a car asked some middle schoolers for directions to the library. They ran away, police were called, and the man was later found . . . at the library. Still, Facebook was full of locals praising the girls for getting away, praising the police for keeping us safe (from people who read?), and condemning the guy. What makes it worse is that he was driving with a suspended registration or something, so all the articles get to talk about how he has to appear in court, which just manages to feed the appearance of this guy having committed a crime during the encounter (which I guess maybe he did, but it had nothing to do with talking to adolescents).

  20. SKL February 2, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    IMO the message is that the girls were right to listen to their instinct and NOT go into an isolated area with some random person.

    He could have had the interview in a very public place or asked the school administration to make some students available. If he was just a nice guy trying to interview some students, then someone should coach him on how better to accomplish this.

    I used to scoff at the “human trafficking” thing in the US, but it has come to my attention that we really do have a problem, especially in some geographic areas. The usual victims are teens and tweens who are having a rough home life and get influenced to leave home for what they think will be something better. I don’t think it is usual for them to be physically snatched off the street. But that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to go off into a dark alley with a stranger because he wants to “talk to you.”

  21. Neil M February 2, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    I think Shaw is responding rationally to the incentives of this situation. If she hits the panic button, calls police, etc., and is later proven to have overreacted, the negative consequences will be minimal or nonexistent. After all, some will say, better safe than sorry, right? If just one child is spared…you know how it goes. However, if Shaw shrugs off this incident as non-issue, and the unlikely should happen, she has likely just ended her career in education, exposed the school district to tremendous liability, and opened herself to endless criticism, in the news, on Twitter, etc. No one will care how rarely children are assaulted in situations like that; the focus will be on how Shaw could have done more and didn’t.

    Given this reality, if you were Kathi Shaw, wouldn’t you go to red alert too?

  22. E February 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    @pentamom…

    I read from what was posted as Alisha’s comments:

    “I watched an interview with one of the “victims” later and she made it clear he never touched her or tried to touch or pull her. Instead it sounded like he gestured or suggested they move to a quieter spot, which makes sense if you are trying to interview someone like he said….”

    She says “it sounded like” — not that the girl used that exact phrasing. So we have someone who interpreted the 1 girl’s comment and we’ve got the Principal’s comment based them speaking to both girls.

    I’m just always confused when there is hearsay and we arbitrarily chose to believe one (completely unknown) person, and not the other. You can chose to believe the “interviewer” and presume the girl and the principal are incorrect, or you can opt to leave all options on the table and not discount either any of them at this point.

  23. lollipoplover February 2, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    What exactly is a “case of stranger danger”?

    Yes, we should always teach kids to trust their instincts- recognize abuse or strange behavior- and resist and report incidents. The authorities can alert the community to seek more information about these encounters. Perhaps this was a recruiter or reporter from the local community college. Stranger things have happened, like people asking for directions and being mistaken for predators.

    I agree with Havva.
    The principal has the authority to handle this rationally and get more information without having folks gather pitchforks. She went for the pitchforks (or mace, for the students).

  24. pentamom February 2, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

    Dee makes a good point. If the kids weren’t comfortable interacting with the guy, they responded the right way. It was right to give him the brush-off. It was right to inform the adults about something that bothered them. It would also have been okay for the girls to keep talking to him provided they remained in public view and did not give out personal information. But it was not wrong for them to decide that he was better left alone, and that something should be said to those in charge.

    It’s the leap to creating an entire backstory for the guy that’s over the top. He was a guy whose presence bothered the kids, and maybe he should be watched out for if he shows up again, and spoken to about what he’s doing to see if he’s on the up and up. He “might be” a trafficker or a pedophile or he “might be” any number of things. But the situation could be handled simply on the basis that he was an unknown guy, and the kids did nothing wrong by choosing to avoid him. The speculation on what he “was” adds nothing to the basic principle that kids should stay away from people they are suspicious of, and adds unnecessary fear and potentially unjust accusation to the mix.

    If he’s on the up and up, he should have approached to the principal and requested permission to do his interviews on school property. I’m not saying failing to do so means he’s not legit, just that that’s what he *should* have done.

  25. E February 2, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    @Neil — I agree. The principal didn’t bring up trafficking, that was a politician. I would think if you had 2 different students that report something that seemed odd or strange and made them feel unsafe, you would have to consider letting the student/parent population know.

    Not every kid in a HS is going to have the same reaction to someone addressing them in this manner. (Just like my Mom got scammed by a pop up Virus add, but I never would).

  26. pentamom February 2, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    E, it also said “she made it clear.” That says to me that whatever may be interpreted from what she said about what the guy DID do, she was pretty clear about what she perceived that he DIDN’T do, which was anything potentially dangerous.

    Anyway, you’re right, both sides are hearsay, and none of it really matters. What matters is that the girls knew what not to do, and that therefore nothing happened.

    So the moral of the story is not, “There might be sex traffickers at the school because some guy showed up!!!!1!!1”

    It’s “some guy showed up, and the kids have learned how to deal with that situation.” Moral one is completely based on fear-based speculation; moral two is what actually happened and what was actually learned from the situation.

  27. Donna February 2, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    BethS.- Most cases of teenage human trafficking in the US are kids who are runaways or throwaways. They enter into prostitution willingly as a way to survive life on the street or they hook up with a “helpful” guy or gal who ends up being a pimp. Kidnapping kids for human slavery is pretty much unheard of in the US.

  28. E February 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    @lollipoplover — what did the principal do that was out of line? They reported the incident and then the school board had a meeting about public safety. I presume that was in part to allow parents/community to ask questions? And I’m guessing it wasn’t a unilateral decision on her part (but involved the board).

    I don’t think that’s terribly uncommon. It also gives the school an opportunity to talk about how SAFE the school actually is. It’s not always to wring hands.

    From what I see above, she did not bring up trafficking.

  29. BethS February 2, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    “I’m sure human trafficking is a real problem, but this idea that cared-for, middle-class kids are at high risk of being snatched and sold into slavery just seems bizarre to me.”

    This is why I asked the question, because it seems to me as well that vulnerable populations are quite a bit more at risk. If your kid is home for dinner every night, he/she is probably not involved in trafficking, and to assume that snatching kids around a school is an oft-used method of forcing kids into trafficking is, in a word, ridiculous.

  30. E February 2, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    @pentamom — I’m not debating that the girl ruled out certain actions on the guy, I’m just saying that her gut reaction to the experience should be given as much respect as the unknown other person’s motives. I don’t think most teens (let alone 2) would say they were scared if they were simply asked about taking a survey. Maybe they would, but I’m willing to accept that something transpired that was actually uncomfortable.

    If he suggested they find a “quiet” place to go chat, I can’t presume it’s harmless.

    And I agree that people need to learn how to deal with situations, but I also think that if something that evokes the same reaction from 2 different people occurs, talking about it does exactly what you are saying — educates people on how to respond and what to do (including sharing that information).

  31. Donna February 2, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    “If they felt his suggestion was inappropriate and they felt uncomfortable — don’t we have to accept that at face value.”

    There are numerous stories posted around the internet regularly that involve people completely overreacting to innocent interactions with strangers, almost always male strangers. K posted one below about everyone freaking out because a man asked directions to the library… and then went to the library. There are the men questioned for taking pictures in public. Or simply being in public at a place kids are. If we all here admit that many people’s meter as to what is inappropriate or creepy is WAAAAAAAY off, why exactly do we have to accept it at face value that this man was genuinely creepy?

    I don’t think that we know whether he was truly creepy or not. We know that two students believed that he was creepy. Were they the only students he approached or did 50 other kids get approached by him and not think he was creepy? Do these kids have good guts or are they kids who would feel uncomfortable if a man asked for directions to the library? We don’t know the answer.

  32. Brighton, NY February 2, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    Did he have an accordion case?

  33. James Pollock February 2, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    “There are numerous stories posted around the internet regularly that involve people completely overreacting to innocent interactions with strangers”

    I’m not inclined to question people who say they were afraid. You say you were afraid, OK, you were afraid.

    My objection comes from people saying “you should be afraid” of something that is not and/or should not be scary.

  34. Warren February 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    The problem is that we don’t know why the girls reacted the way they did.

    One of two reasons.

    Yes their creep-o-meter went off. OR They reacted in the pre-programmed, drilled into their heads way, that today’s paranoia about men demands they do.

  35. Havva February 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    @BethS,
    I’ve thought that too. As far as I can tell, the idea of ‘your kid could be snatched and sold into slavery’ is used to illicit concern and support. As others have brought up, it was not the principal, but the politician who brought up the possibility. And it probably happens on occasion. But the “epidemic” in sex trafficking may be coming largely from a redefinition. “..any minor involved in a commercial sex act in the US while under the age of 18 qualifies as a trafficking victim, even if no force, fraud or coercion is involved, under the definition of “Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons” in the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.” Also since forced marriage qualifies if sex or housework is involved, ISIS alone is probably responsible for an uptick in sex trafficking.

    The Wikipedia article on human trafficking is quite informative. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking) Human trafficking is a pretty big catch all, and it catches a variety of issues, forced marriage, child soldiers, child pornography, basic slavery, illicit adoptions, agreements to buy organs where the buyer doesn’t pay, stealing organs from people in surgery for other issues. The article mentions passports being confiscated as a means of coercion. But it doesn’t mention the Kafala system which fosters this form of slavery in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and until recently in Bahrain, for migrant workers… It’s a horrible system well worth reading about, and opposing.

    But runaways who turn to prostitution, and the routine abuses of foreigners in foreign lands, or the abuses of smugglers against the illegal immigrants they brought here (and to whom we give visas in exchange for testimony), don’t energize the public. Believing you have to do something to protect your family from a clear and present danger provides that voter energy, it also promotes paranoia.

  36. E February 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

    @Donna — I agree with you and Warren, we just don’t know.

    I just dislike giving one total stranger the benefit of the doubt over another with so little to go on.

    He could have been a college student on an assignment that just went about it a bad way AND was creepy – but not dangerous.

    On my neighborhood listserv there are occasional reports about suspicious activity that isn’t really — and then there’s also “my house was broken into between 10am and 3pm today”….so clearly no everyone is here to sell something.

  37. Emily February 2, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

    >>The problem is that we don’t know why the girls reacted the way they did.

    One of two reasons.

    Yes their creep-o-meter went off. OR They reacted in the pre-programmed, drilled into their heads way, that today’s paranoia about men demands they do.<<

    That's what I wanted to say, but I couldn't find the words.

  38. Donna February 2, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    “I’m not inclined to question people who say they were afraid. You say you were afraid, OK, you were afraid.”

    I didn’t question whether they were afraid. They clearly were.

    I questioned why we must take at face value that the man’s actions were worthy of the level of fear experienced or any fear at all.

    Two completely different concepts.

  39. Poppy February 2, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    People trafficking doesn’t even remotely work that way! People looking for girls to traffick don’t walk up to random students in playgrounds. They target girls from impoverished countries and communities, girls from broken homes or abusive backgrounds, girls with little to no future who can be lured with the prospect of a job as a nanny or cleaner, often abroad. I’m not saying that the guy in question couldn;t have been a little creepy. Who knows. But no pedophile, let alone a professional people trafficker, approaches teenage girls in the middle of a busy street in the middle of the day. It’s sensible for teenage girls to keep an eye out, obviously, but it doesn’t sound like these girls were in any danger for even a second, unless a stranger talking to you equals danger…

    As for the toddler with the machete; I’m Dutch and I coincidentally recently came upon an online American article about a Dutch tv show for young children (about the Sesame Street age). The tv show had an episode featuring a 5-year-old girl making sushi by herslf, with a knife. Obviously there were adults in the room, camera personnel etc., but you couldn’t see them and she did the cooking all by herself, and with confidence. The article was about how such a thing would never be shown on American tv (for anyone interested, the clip is on YT: “Reika makes sushi”)

    Also: students being allowed to carry mace is concerning imho….

  40. Donna February 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    “I just dislike giving one total stranger the benefit of the doubt over another with so little to go on.”

    But isn’t that exactly what you are doing if you say that we have to take the girl’s opinion that his behavior was inappropriate at face value?

    “He could have been a college student on an assignment that just went about it a bad way AND was creepy – but not dangerous.”

    Or he could have been a college student on an assignment who went about it in a perfectly fine way and the two girls were way off base.

  41. James Pollock February 2, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    “I didn’t question whether they were afraid.”

    Nor did anyone say you did.

  42. Jeffrey Deutsch February 2, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    “If you are going to assume the unknown person is being honest, you have to assume that the other person is too right? If they felt his suggestion was inappropriate and they felt uncomfortable — don’t we have to accept that at face value.”

    Honesty is one thing. Reasonableness is quite another.

    Just because someone *felt* uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean the other person was in fact doing anything wrong. Quite *somebody’s* compass needs recalibrating…but we don’t yet know whose.

    “It’s completely possible this person was not ill-intentioned, but that doesn’t mean that his way of communicating and handling the situation wasn’t odd or creepy. It can be both.”

    Quite right. The operant term here is “can be” (and my “necessarily” just above).

    That said, odd in and of itself isn’t illegal or even suspicious, nor should it be. Creepy is another matter.

  43. Emily February 2, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    I have to wonder, just for fun, what would a “perfectly, 100% safe childhood” look like from today’s standards? Let’s see:

    CONCEPTION-BIRTH: Mother eats only organic foods, no alcohol, sugar, caffeine, red meat, dairy, eggs, or wheat. Father plays Classical music to Mother’s stomach every day. Both parents post sonogram pictures and nursery pictures (gender-neutral, of course), all over every social media account they own. A baby shower is thrown, with a registry for all the latest, brand-new baby items. Secondhand won’t do, because last year’s leading car seat was recalled after it was found that it could have a negative effect on babies’ self-esteem.

    DELIVERY: Natural home water birth, after the appropriate health-care professional has first had the chance to reach inside Mother and put a tiny lifejacket onto the soon-to-be-born child, because of Mother and Father’s concerns about water safety. No anaesthetic, of course, because doing parenting “right” means the parents must be inconvenienced as much as possible.

    BABYHOOD/TODDLERHOOD: Baby (whose gender is being kept a secret, so as not to “limit” him/her) is constantly strapped to either Mother or Father, and therefore never goes without supervision and interaction. Baby gates are installed everywhere, sockets covered, corners of furniture padded, all floors in the house covered in gymnastics mats, and breakable items put in storage, for when it’s time to teach Baby to walk. Whole family maintains a diet of organic, gluten-free, vegan, non-processed, raw foods, which Mother and Father make sure to let everyone know, through heavy use of social media, where they also post numerous pictures of Baby at various holidays and special moments–first Halloween, visiting Santa Claus, first birthday, Halloween, first solid food, first steps, and so on, and so forth. No bathtub, potty-training, or swimming pictures, however, because that could be construed as “child pornography.”

    PRESCHOOL YEARS: Baby is enrolled in the “perfect” preschool, that’s holistic and play-based, but also teaches reading, writing, math, history, geography, Suzuki violin, nuclear physics, and terrorist negotiations to three-and-four-year-olds, to make sure they’re “ready for kindergarten.” Of course, this program runs on an annoying half-day schedule, which requires a stay-at-home parent to drop off and pick up, but also costs so much that the only families who can afford it are two-income families where the parents are both professionals. Luckily, Mother and Father were both trust-fund babies, so this isn’t a problem. One parent works, while the other parent handles Baby’s school schedule, and all of its special events, because they “encourage parental involvement,” with the appropriate background checks, of course. The decision of “who works, who stays home” isn’t decided based on gender, because they don’t want Baby to grow up with gender stereotypes.

    SCHOOL YEARS: Baby is escorted to school every morning, and picked up from school every afternoon, by non-working parent, who then shuttles Baby to an endless parade of scheduled, supervised activities–swimming, Scouts, dance, gymnastics, music lessons, theatre, Kumon, and various sports teams. Eventually, one main activity is chosen for Baby to specialize in, because at five years old, it’s time to start thinking about university scholarships (which they don’t really need, but hey, bragging rights). Baby is enrolled in SAT prep classes starting in about grade three. All of Baby’s friends are parent-selected and approved from the pool of kids who attend the same activities, come from the same income bracket, and are psychologically evaluated each year to rule out any possibility of bullying that may happen during their scheduled, supervised play dates, which occur about once a month, because of the kids’ demanding school and activity schedules. In public, running errands, Baby is never left alone–not in the car, not in a public bathroom; a parent is always Right There. Come high school, dating isn’t allowed, for fear that the vicissitudes of immature love might take Baby’s focus away from school, the One Main Activity, and university applications. Come grade twelve, Baby’s parents ghost-write the application and essay to Harvard. Baby gets in, because Harvard remembers Mother and Father as being co-presidents of the student government, co-valedictorians, and the two most well-adjusted people in the history of the school. Also, they’re rich.

    MOVE-IN DAY: Parents drop Baby off at Harvard, and are taken to “parent orientation,” which details how to hand-hold the child through the inevitable struggles that come with collegiate life, while still following the FOI rules of the university.

    UNIVERSITY LIFE: Parents remain in regular contact with Baby, via phone and text. Baby tells them what they want to hear, but has secretly chosen a different major, and quit the One Main Activity out of sheer boredom and frustration with it. Baby comes home at Thanksgiving, parents don’t know their child anymore, because it’s like he/she is a different person now, and they sever contact. Baby doesn’t object to this. Baby then joins a chain gang…..or, at the very least, spends hours a week in counselling, trying to rebuild from the effects of all of this “good parenting.”

  44. E February 2, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    @Donna — I’m not choosing one reality over the other — I’m just willing to accept both at face value until proven otherwise.

    My example was simply supplying a scenario where, the girls weren’t really paranoid and the student wasn’t a potential criminal. The student could have been awkward but not security risk and the girls, given what transpired, justifiably suspicious.

    Of course, all the other options are possibilities too…that he was completely cordial and not a creep (and they over-reacted), or he was a rapist (and their guts were on point).

  45. Shelly Stow February 2, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    Interesting to hear the “In my 35+ years of living here, I have never heard….” Some years ago, when this particular sex fear du jour was surfacing, I wrote in a blog or something that, as old as I am and as many different children and families I have known over all those years, I have never known, heard of, or known anyone who has known or heard of, a family where a child just disappeared, never to be heard of or from again. I know that runaway teens sometimes end up in lives they would not have chosen and are certainly victimized by those willing to exploit them, and that is tragic, but the idea that people are driving around, grabbing children and teens off of our streets and out of our schoolyards and shipping them overseas or hiding them forever in some underground criminal network of sex traffickers is over the top.

  46. E February 2, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    @Jeffrey — “creepy” isn’t illegal either.

    And it’s just words/descriptors anyway — we don’t all use them identically.

  47. Warren February 2, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

    There is not a damn thing wrong with questioning someone that said they were afraid.

    Why were you afraid? What were you afraid of? If they say “I was told to never talk to a strange man.” or “I have been told to be afraid of strange men approaching me when I’m alone.” or the wide variety of other things girls and young women are being taught, then yes, they are wrong because of their teachings. Just because someone is afraid does not mean they are right to be afraid.

  48. Emily February 2, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

    Warren is right. Everyone outside a person’s immediate family is a “stranger” until you meet them for the first time, and 49% of the population is male. Even adjusting to include post-pubescent unknown males only, that’s a lot of “potentially dangerous” individuals; most of whom are probably actually perfectly decent people. Also, think of how many of these “potentially dangerous individuals” are someone’s dad, someone’s uncle, someone’s older brother, and hey, they might be the kind of people who do things like coaching their kids’ sports teams, and helping them with their Scout badges, and volunteering as a makeover victim when their pre-teen daughters’ friends come over for sleepovers…….like Warren did when his kids were growing up. But, the outside world wouldn’t know that–they just see a “strange man,” and of course, it’s “dangerous” to talk to “strange men.”

  49. Jeffrey Deutsch February 2, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    @E — Allow me to clarify. When I said that “Creepy is another matter,” I only mean that it’s legitimately suspicious even when it’s not illegal behavior.

    You may be right about not everyone using the same word identically. My only point is that we need to draw a line between “odd” (unusual but not meriting a complaint) and “creepy” (legitimately suspicious and meriting at least an investigation).

  50. Papilio February 2, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

    @Emily: “terrorist negotiations to three-and-four-year-olds, to make sure they’re “ready for kindergarten.””

    Hmm, I don’t know. I really think you’re underestimating those Kindergarten teachers…

  51. James Pollock February 2, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

    ” I have never known, heard of, or known anyone who has known or heard of, a family where a child just disappeared, never to be heard of or from again.”

    I have. She was fleeing what she considered an abusive home, and, being still a minor and knowing that minor runaways get sent home, she fled over the border and cut all ties with her previous life.

    That said, leaving was her choice. What happened afterwards may well not have been.

    We also had a couple of cases of disappearances in the “neighborhood” (OK, maybe not even in the same county). There were two young girls (12 and 13) who disappeared from their walks home from school, and later turned up under the new concrete patio at a neighbor’s house. They both had extremely poor home lives, once having been sexually abused previously.

    And another local case, where the young boy was last seen at school (pretty much everyone believes that the stepmother had something to do with the disappearance, but there hasn’t been enough evidence for charges, and meanwhile the father’s divorce proceedings are stayed because she won’t testify to anything at all until after the criminal case resolves.)

  52. James Pollock February 2, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

    ” Also, think of how many of these “potentially dangerous individuals” are someone’s dad, someone’s uncle, someone’s older brother, and hey, they might be the kind of people who do things like coaching their kids’ sports teams, and helping them with their Scout badges”

    Of course, these aspects also apply to many ACTUAL, not POTENTIALLY, dangerous individuals. There’s nothing about being someone’s dad, uncle, older brother, coach, or Scout helper that prevents them from being (actually) dangerous.

    The truth of the matter is that everybody is a “potentially dangerous individual” if the conditions are right (well, wrong, really). If you spend your life afraid of the potential, well, it’s probably not much of a life.

  53. Caiti February 2, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    Somewhat off topic, sorry.

    “Trafficking” is one of the issues I get so frustrated about I can’t even think straight. When people talk about the victims of sex trafficking in the us, they are often taking about people who chose/ choose to support themselves through sex work. Certainly some might hate doing it, but most jobs have tradeoffs like this. And I’ve known escorts who actually do like their job. The reason they are called victims of trafficking is that anti-sex industry people assume moral superiority over sex workers. They assume that if the sex worker doesn’t want to be “saved” from their profession it’s because the sex worker must either be brainwashed or stupid, and can’t possibly know what is in his or her best interest. It’s a very paternalistic assumption. I find the conversation fascinating, because the anti sex work contingent is often made up of people who identify as feminists. Yet they are acting against many of the classically held feminist beliefs of women being able to make their own decisions.

  54. sexhysteria February 3, 2016 at 2:02 am #

    It probably was a sex trafficker. They are everywhere. Teen girls are so helpess and vulnerable, it’s a wonder they don’t wear diapers.

  55. Donald February 3, 2016 at 2:25 am #

    This is a similar story to the previous one. He MAY have been grooming for the sex slave industry. Not only that, there MAY have been anthrax in the box at the school music room. After all, we couldn’t find MWD in Iraq. How do we know that Saddam Hussein didn’t hide them in an accordion case?

    This is OCD. Instead of being obsessed with germs on hands, many are obsessed with believing that CSI episodes represent real life.

    ‘If it saves one child it’s worth it’ completely disregards the danger of a community being so fearful that they see danger everywhere. Weren’t we just in a war because of that? If I remember correctly, didn’t a few people die because of it?

  56. andy February 3, 2016 at 4:32 am #

    Someone trying to get you to isolated spot is straightforward observation. When you go to isolated spot, you are putting yourself into vulnerable position – you can get robed more easily for example. When you randomly find yourself in isolated spot with a stranger, then it is quite safe situation in most cases. When the stranger works towards getting you to isolated spot, then it is good idea not to trust him. I never seen anyone doing interview trying to get me out of public space, they always asked right away.

    Full on panic is ridiculous, assumption it is all about sex ring dumb (robbery is more likely or someone trying to touch them or just awkwardly looking to flirt in sort of privacy). Him being a student who did not thought it trough is very likely too. But this panic is all on adults in this case not on students.

    Students made a decision in an uncertain situation. While we should not raise kids to be fearful of everything, we should not raise them to be naive and trust every bullshit random guy (including charismatic looking) tell them. The often repeated advice to girls on how to keep away from risk, even on this forum, is “trust your guts” or “trust your instincts” and neither teaches them to a.) talk about what exactly was wrong b.) allows them to differentiate between danger and vague feeling of fear.

    However, situation in here is not about vague guts or instinct, it is “that guy is trying to get me somewhere where we will be alone” observation. That is so much better then instinct, even if the situation is uncertain and guy may be perfectly fine. “No I am not going to risk it and will report it in school as I was told that I should” sounds to me sound decision.

    Wait till you are absolutely 100% sure the situation is not safe till you back off is not reasonable personal policy.

    The other thought is that we cant have it both ways. When a girl goes with stranger to isolated spot and gets molested or robbed, she gets blamed for being dumb or naive. So when they refuse to go into such situation I would not blamed them again and assume their assessment of the situation is automatically wrong.

  57. Warren February 3, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    The point about being lured to an isolated area……………………I am willing to bet that all this student asked them was “Could we find a bench or someplace to sit down for a few minutes, while I ask you the interview questions?”

    That is all it would take in this society’s over inflated paranoid the world is out to get me mentality, and bang he is trying to isolate me.

    In the US you are living in a world of fear and paranoia. From these girls being lured into a human trafficking ring to people calling the FBI because dark skinned persons inquired about boat rentals on the lake of a tourist town.

    The US has become like an episode of the Twilight Zone, where everyone has gone mad with paranoia.

  58. BethS February 3, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    “the idea that people are driving around, grabbing children and teens off of our streets and out of our schoolyards and shipping them overseas or hiding them forever in some underground criminal network of sex traffickers is over the top.”

    But yet, this is what parents fear, because stats are thrown at us every day with no context. And then parents teach their kids to fear it, and small transgressions become attempted trafficking….is there no end?

  59. Coccinelle February 3, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    If you like the New Guinea toddler video, you should definitely watch the “Babies” documentary. It starts when they are babies but it ends when they are toddlers.

  60. E February 3, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    @Warren — I think reading these stories on FRK have impacted what you believe about the US.

    I live in the US, I recently had teenagers and HS student. I never once observed paranoid teen girls who lived in fear. I never once got a notification of “stranger danger” from my children’s schools.

    Are some people paranoid and feed off of fears that other people project onto them? Yes.

    Is the following true? “In the US you are living in a world of fear and paranoia. ” No.

    If you are looking for something hard enough, you will find it. That goes for risks for children sitting in car AND people who live in fear. Neither mindset applies to everyone.

    If you read a website about all the crazy things people do in the name of safety, you are going to find some outliers in there. It’s not that different than looking for bad things that happen to kids — you can find those too, even if they aren’t common.

    The only thing (to me) notable about this article is that some politician used a highly charged buzzword: “trafficking!!!”. The rest of it sounds like a school community that was sharing information they felt was useful.

  61. lollipoplover February 3, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    “I never once observed paranoid teen girls who lived in fear. I never once got a notification of “stranger danger” from my children’s schools.”

    We had 4 incidents of reported child lurings last year alone. 3 of the 4 involved tween/teen girls approached at bus stops for directions. The one involved an older man, who approached the children and asked for directions to school, saying he was a substitute teacher. He WAS a substitute teacher, though after this incident I don’t believe he wants to sub anymore. The other incidents were white vans and a work truck asking for directions. Yet ALL were reported to the news and parents were notified of these incidents via emails. Only after they investigated were there retractions in the paper, usually a much smaller story than the sensational child lurings at bus stops.

    This is just in my school district. I saw one in the paper just yesterday about an attempted luring in a neighboring school district. This always makes the news! The retractions (which usually come), not so much.

  62. Travis February 3, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

    @Warren, “The point about being lured to an isolated area……………………I am willing to bet that all this student asked them was “Could we find a bench or someplace to sit down for a few minutes, while I ask you the interview questions?””

    Yes, this. Specially if he had a boom with him or another type of microphone so he could record the girl, to have proof of his data or to review the interview at a later time for proper transcription.

    If he had not been who he said he was he would have to be incredibly stupid to try the same school on two different days. It also sounds to me, since the girls did admit he didn’t actually DO anything that seemed suspicious, that the teachers/authority figure in the school blowed it out of proportion.

  63. Warren February 3, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    E,

    Sorry, but everyday something is coming out of the US that just wreaks of fear and paranoia.

    You have parents suing school boards because the schools are indoctrinating the students into Islam. When all that is happening is the school, in world history taught about Islam, as it did the other major faiths.

    You have politicians basing their entire campaigns on fear and emotion.

    “If you see something say something” …………..that needs no more.

    You have internal immigration checkpoints. Seriously, people driving down the highway not even leaving their own county being stopped and asked if they are US citizens.

    I could go on and on. Yes when you look at each one separately they are small stupid issues. But when you are on the outside, like I am in Canada, the US and it’s citizens look like a bunch of scared little kids, paranoid over their own shadow.

  64. anonymous mom February 3, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    Good time, because I just read a ridiculous article today making a similar baseless argument for trafficking. Apparently they have been unable to locate some of the undocumented teenage refugees we’ve taken in since 2010, and some anti-trafficking program workers have concluded that probably they were trafficked. And, the author of the article concluded for herself that they were probably trafficked for sex. Now, keep in mind there is no actual evidence that any of the migrants we’ve let in have been trafficked for sex, and no evidence that any person who had a refugee placed with them has ever attempted to then traffic the minors into sex work, but who needs actual evidence? Obviously if an undocumented teen is not in the same location where they were several months or years ago, then they must have been trafficked.

    The sex trafficking hysteria has got to end. Nobody in the U.S. is being kidnapped and forced into sex slavery. Nobody. It is not happening. Yes, if your teen daughter decides to get into drugs and run away from home, she might end up in the sex trade, almost certainly of her own free will. That would suck for her and for the parent. But, the idea that somebody is going to walk up to your teen daughter and grab her and force her to be a prostitute is an insane fantasy. It has never happened and it’s not going to start.

    But, hey, it’s something people on both sides of the political spectrum can agree on–sex trafficking is bad and should stop!–and anything involving both “teens” and “sex” is going to get clicks and views, so it’s a win-win for politicians, activists, and the media, who will continue to tell us how prevalent and serious sex trafficking in the U.S. is even absent any actual evidence that the kinds of situation we think of when we hear “sex trafficking” (people being forced to work in the sex trade against their will) ever happen. We can only come close to pretending that “sex trafficking” is an issue if we redefine prostitution freely engaged in by teen girls and adult addicts as “trafficking,” but that’s obviously not what these sorts of hysterical articles want us to think.

  65. andy February 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    Funny how everyone talks about sex trafficking and nobody considers that he might want to steal their wallet or phones. That is something that happens fairly regularly and is perfectly withing realms of possibilities. And before someone brings up risk involve in that, guy who steal like that tend to be on the less smart side – while they may still look quite friendly and charismatic in causal chat.

    @Travis “Specially if he had a boom with him or another type of microphone so he could record the girl, to have proof …”

    You do not need isolated spot to do that. Any non-fully crowded public place will do.

  66. anonymous mom February 3, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    There is a world of difference between “Dude seemed kind of creepy and probably shouldn’t have been macking on high school girls” and “A SEX TRAFFICKER IS GOING AFTER OUR BABIES!!!”

    The girls may have been uncomfortable. The guy may have been a sleazeball. He may have wanted them in an “isolated area” so he could proposition them or show them his junk. I was a teen girl once, and older guys (as well as guys your own age) can be inappropriate, gross, and creepy for sure. When a society decides to hold up women that look–and often are–barely post-pubescent as the epitome of female sexual attractiveness, well, who exactly do we think men are going to hit on? Their discomfort that this guy was a creep may have been well-founded, and not going with him may have been wise.

    However. That does not mean this man was a sex trafficker. Every transgression is not an ultimate transgression. Hitting on teen girls, while inappropriate, is not in any way the same was being a person who is seeking to kidnap and imprison teen girls in order to force them into sexual slavery. Given that this guy did not follow them, attack them, or otherwise attempt to stop them from getting away from him, the odds that he was some sort of vicious predator seem incredibly low. He may indeed have been some guy in his 20s who thought two high school girls were hot and was trying to flirt with them, who then was totally fine with taking no for an answer: that reasonably seems like the worst-case scenario here. It doesn’t seem all that terrible to me, or like something that should be a cause for concern or police involvement, and it most certainly doesn’t warrant even a moment of speculation that he was a sex trafficker.

    As always, follow the money. Today we have municipalities and law enforcement offices taking huge grants to fight sex trafficking and then, guess what, they suddenly start finding suspected traffickers everywhere. Sounds like this council member might be hoping to get some grant money to fight the scourge of sex trafficking that has so obviously fallen upon the helpless girls of their besieged town.

  67. Donald February 3, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

    “We had 4 incidents of reported child lurings last year alone. 3 of the 4 involved tween/teen girls approached at bus stops for directions.”

    They do this because they are taught to recognize potential danger as a man that talks to them that isn’t their relative. This is DEVCON 2. If that man approaches them they must escalate it to DEVCON 1

    If the man was looking for the store, only asking directions, has an APB on him, police manhunt, and Amber alert, then it’s his own fault. He should have known better than to talk to a girl.

  68. Donald February 3, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    We protect our women. However we are also sophisticated because we can protect them without making them wear a burka

  69. Donna February 3, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    Warren,

    Yes, you hear crazy stories coming out of the US. We are a country of 320 million people. Crazy is bound to rear its head on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean that the entire country is crazy or that the things you mention are common or that the vast majority of the country doesn’t also think them ridiculous.

    “You have internal immigration checkpoints. Seriously, people driving down the highway not even leaving their own county being stopped and asked if they are US citizens.”

    We have internal immigration checkpoints within a short distance of our border. We have for at least 40 years (that was the 1st time I ever went through one). We don’t have internal immigration checkpoints throughout the country. You are not going to get stopped at an immigration checkpoint in Nebraska or even Los Angeles.

  70. Warren February 3, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    Donna,

    I am just saying that is the impression the rest of the world is getting of the US.

    Don’t forget, I grew up in the time when I could cross into the US with little or no hassle. The once longest unprotected border in the world. Have been once since the US armed the border, and never again. It is not worth the hassle or time. What once took minutes to cross now takes, at times hours. In reality, the US does don’t have anything worth all that trouble. I know of a lot of people that no longer shop, travel or vacation in the states, for that reason.

  71. Travis February 3, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

    andy, “You do not need isolated spot to do that. Any non-fully crowded public place will do.”

    Like someone kindly pointed out earlier, an “isolated area” might have meant the bench across the street where there would not be as many students. You do need a somewhat silent area for it, unless you want all the extra noise.

    @Donald, no need to drag a whole other culture into this. Some of those women like wearing the burkas. They can feel liberated and free in them. And often they insist that it is American women who are oppressed, since they are “forced” to wear more revealing clothes. And judging from all the girls complaining that it’s hard to get clothes that meet their school’s dress code, “forcing” might not be pushing too much. Female clothing does tend to be a tad revealing.

  72. Andre L. February 4, 2016 at 1:26 am #

    @Vaughan Evans, it is slightly off topic (but you brought the issue), but I gotta call you up on the incredible sexist remarks you made on your oh-the-1950s-women-stayed-at-home nostalgia trip.

    Yes, women now are independent, earn their wage and have their careers, being less dependent, as adults, on men to pay for her bills and expenses. And you know what? That is an awesome thing.

    Society is not owed the free work of bored homebound wives to volunteer, teach at pitiful salaries, or doing a variety of other non-compensated or severely uncompensated work.

  73. Travis February 4, 2016 at 1:40 am #

    @Andre L.,

    I noticed what he said, too, but you’re replying to a troll.

  74. andy February 4, 2016 at 3:17 am #

    @Travis “Like someone kindly pointed out earlier, an “isolated area” might have meant the bench across the street where there would not be as many students. You do need a somewhat silent area for it, unless you want all the extra noise.”

    Any street without marching demonstration would do for microphone, really. It is all about whether you are willing to give benefit of doubt to girls too. I am willing to give them benefit of doubt and assume that the place was lonely without people.

    “And often they insist that it is American women who are oppressed, since they are “forced” to wear more revealing clothes. And judging from all the girls complaining that it’s hard to get clothes that meet their school’s dress code, “forcing” might not be pushing too much.”

    And yet other American women feel oppressed cause they feel forced to cover up too much :).

  75. Donna February 4, 2016 at 7:58 am #

    Warren – This is not new. The northern border is now just comparable to what our southern border has been for decades. Personally, I am not bothered by it at all. At least we can say that we are treating everyone equally as opposed to we arm our southern border to keep brown people out but give the whites to the north free range to come whenever they want.

  76. Warren February 4, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    Donna,

    That all depends on what side of the line you are on. For the people on this side of the line it doesn’t say that at all.

    For decades it was “Hi. Welcome, hope you enjoy your visit to the US.”

    Now it says,”Who the hell are you, what do you want, where do you work, why should we let you in, what’s on your phone and dozens of more intrusive questions.” What it now says is, “We are paranoid and trust nobody, not even those supposed to be our friends.”

  77. Travis February 4, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    @andy,

    “And yet other American women feel oppressed cause they feel forced to cover up too much :).”

    I did not say they were oppressed. I was pointing out a point of view contrary to your own, and which people from other culture do have. Just as you have a skewed perspective of theirs, they might have a skewed perspective of ours.

    Also, It would depend in the type of microphone he had, and if he really was a student, it’s possible it wasn’t particularly good. Of course I can give the benefit of the doubt to the girls, but there is nothing to suggest they had a /real/ reason to be frightened.

  78. E February 4, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    @Warren — “everyday something is coming out of the US that just wreaks of fear and paranoia”

    My point is that you can find terrible, unfortunate things coming out of the US everyday too.

    If you want to find proof that americans are paranoid…you can.

    If you want to find out that kids/children/women are being harmed … you can.

    As far as US checkpoints? I’ve traveled almost every US state by car and have never ever been stopped for something like this.

    As an aside — I love that the narrative about the person who approached these girls has grown to include that he might need isolation for recording purposes (was it reported that he had any recording equipment at all?). It’s nice he’s got so many advocates while the girls have been vilified, lol.

  79. James Pollock February 4, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    “Also, It would depend in the type of microphone he had, and if he really was a student, it’s possible it wasn’t particularly good. Of course I can give the benefit of the doubt to the girls, but there is nothing to suggest they had a /real/ reason to be frightened.”

    If you’re going to complain that other people are providing details that aren’t in the original, you really should avoid doing it, too. There’s no evidence he had a microphone of any kind.

  80. Warren February 4, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    E,

    It is not just the stories coming out of the US, but when you flip through the comments there is an overwhelming support for the fear and paranoia, with little or no common sense counter comments. I am not saying that everyone is like that in the US. I am saying is that is how the US is seen by other countries.

    As for the recording device? I think too many people automatically think “interview” means like an on camera, or tape event. Product of people assuming everything involves tech. I assumed a college student doing an assignment interview would be a student with a clipboard and a list of questions, probably with some sort of designed answering system, true or false, or most applicable to least applicable. Know what I mean.

  81. Donna February 4, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    “It is not just the stories coming out of the US, but when you flip through the comments there is an overwhelming support for the fear and paranoia, with little or no common sense counter comments.”

    Yes, because the internet tends to bring out the crazy best of all. And most people with common sense see the idiocy of arguing with crazy, hence the lack of common sense counter arguments.

    As for the border issue, you do understand that certain people in the world do want to come into our country to kill us, right? It is not paranoia as the gaping whole in the NYC skyline attests. We could probably debate the why all day, but the reality is that there will be more Islamic terrorist attacks in the US. An individual citizen freaking out over being a personal victim of a terrorist attack, especially when he lives in a small town in Idaho, is paranoid. A government tasked with trying to prevent terrorist attacks being interested in who is coming in and out of the country is not.

  82. James Pollock February 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

    “An individual citizen freaking out over being a personal victim of a terrorist attack, especially when he lives in a small town in Idaho, is paranoid.”

    How big does the town have to get to make the fear not paranoid? Is Oklahoma City, OK big enough? How about Burns, OR?

    Many years ago, they found a car bomb arriving on the ferry to Port Angeles, WA (From Victoria). Corvallis, OR is not that big a town (although it IS a college town, so the population doubles for 3/4 of the year) but it produced the “Pioneer Square bomber”, who was planning to set off a big truck bomb at the Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland. Here’s the fun part… the FBI knew about the guy because some members of the local mosque heard him talking about wanting to bomb something, and called the FBI. How were they rewarded? With a firebombing, of course.

  83. Donna February 4, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    Actually I said “freaking out,” not fear. But anyway …

    Altering your life – which would be comparable to changing border security – because you fear that you personally will be the victim of a terrorist attack is always paranoid. It is as paranoid as refusing to allow your child outside without an adult for fear that she will be kidnapped. Yes, the two events occur in rare instances, but in a country of 320 million people, the odds are against it being you.

    That random events once occurred in a single small town, or even a few small towns, in the US does not change my opinion. The fact still remains that the US-wide incredibly small chance of any particular individual being in a terrorist attack is even smaller for people who live and work in a place that most of their fellow citizens, let alone people outside the country, have no idea exists.

  84. James Pollock February 4, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    ” It is as paranoid as refusing to allow your child outside without an adult for fear that she will be kidnapped.”

    For most people, I’d agree… but there are people whose fear of kidnapping is well-founded. (It’s the response to the fear that matters most, I think.

    In my case, it isn’t a fear of terrorism that keeps me out of the city. It’s the dread of driving in heavy traffic. I hate it, enough to not go into the city unless I have a VERY good reason.

  85. E February 5, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    @Warren — I agree with you , that there are people who feed on that stuff. But there are other places where people discuss how absurd it is (Lenore’s Reason articles have comments in the exact opposite direction).

    It’s less likely that people are going to spend their time discussing something that DOESN’T resonate with them. I might spend my time in an online forum about photography or travel or my favorite sports team, but I’m not going to participate in a forum where people are clutching pearls and reporting white vans.

    I understand your point for sure, and with the internet, there is an outlet to feature and discuss every.single.thing.

  86. Jeff February 6, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    Oh,but the girls approached but this man subjectively thought he was creepy. Clearly that’s enough for a panic.

  87. anonymous mom February 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    I don’t see why we can’t affirm two things at once: both that these girls’ feeling that this man was “creepy” can be accepted as reasonable and therefore their leaving the situation was a good response, but also that a guy who gave off a genuinely “creepy” vibe but did not accost, assault, follow, or harass anybody is no reason for a panic and certainly that a “creepy” vibe is not evidence that one is a sex trafficker. “Creepy” might be very good reason to not go into an isolated area with somebody, but it shouldn’t be grounds for a police investigation and statements by the town council.