do I blame the media for making us so afraid for our kids? Because the media are to blame!
Print, TV, the Internet, movies, news shows and of course viral videos — the media are all SO in love with the “Children in peril!” story that they will stoop to covering stories where kids are NOT in peril and present them as if they were. Here’s a note from a reader I recently received:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I live in Western Minnesota.Â About a month ago a â€œpossible attempted abductionâ€ was all over the news.Â This occurred in Ada, MN.Â What is a â€œpossible attempted abductionâ€ anyway?Â Either someone attempts to abduct you or they donâ€™t.Â The press called the 14 year old a â€œyoung girlâ€ and indicated she was approached by someone asking her questions and asking her if she needed a ride.Â They described him and warned that â€œthe man could be anywhere in the region!â€
After locating the man, questioning him and deciding not to charge him, the news was still saying that, â€œEven though the man has been located, police are reminding everyone to immediately report any suspicious activity.â€ Watch:
The language the press used basically declared him guiltyâ€”of something.Â Many of the residents of the region were upset and wondering why he wasnâ€™t charged.
This paranoia is NOT safe for children. It is so frustrating. Â Although it may be socially unacceptable in today’s fear-mongering culture, since when is someone trying to talk to a 14 year old girl from his car and asking her if she needs a ride illegal? He didnâ€™t detain her or chase her or threaten her in any way. Â Now I hesitate to ever talk to anybody I donâ€™t know or ask them if they need a ride as I could become a suspect in aÂ “possibleÂ attemptedÂ abduction!”
Fast forward a few weeks and a town south of Ada, Wahpeton ND/Breckenridge MN, was putting parents on high alert because â€œthere were some children who have witnessed a car driving around the school 3 or 4 times after school is let out/bus stops. This happened today and yesterday.â€
What?Â How many people drive around the school several times looking for, or waiting for, children to pick up?Â Are we that sexist of a culture that because it was a male with a beard we need to be suspicious?Â Are we really inducing so much paranoia in our kids that even for routine things like this the children are afraid?Â How badly are we diluting their instincts?Â Instincts that they should have if something is really amiss?Â Something has to change!Â Just my two cents.
Lenore here: The TV news reports are Onion-worthy: Area man seen near teen! Man questioned and not found to be guilty of anything but so what? That’s just MORE grist for the mill. Now we can talk about it again! Consider it an ongoing investigation. And then — would you believe it? — another adult male in a car was spotted by some other kids. When will this plague of men in cars near children end?
Anchorfolks: Keep looking stern and angry! Umbrage is your job. Viewers: Stay terrified! YOUR job is to keep the TV on and watching for more scary details. Forever!
I just hope that one day we will all, collectively, become so burnt out with the constant onslaught of this media hype, that we will simply turn off our televisions and computers, stand up, go outside into the real word, and just LIVE!
Have you noticed that when a 14-year-old girl is attacked, she’s a “little girl,” but when a 14-year-old boy is involved in vandalism and looting he is a “thug”?
Yeah, this could be part of the reason I don’t watch TV ….
Recently, I received the following email as a part of a local area mom’s group.
My daughter and a couple of her friends were invited to play in the backyard of somebody’s house that is adjacent to our apt. building.
We don’t know this person. He told them they can also use his trampoline.
What’s going on here? Is this something I need to report? I already talked to my daughter.
The fence between his backyard and our apts. where the grill area is is partially gone.”
I emailed her back and urged her to use common sense and pointedly told her that the guy had done nothing wrong. She was rather terse with me and was determined to clutch her pearls and panic.
Do you think if you had suggested that she simply go over to the man’s house and introduce herself to him, that she would have heeded that advice? She could simply say that she just wanted to make sure that he really was okay with her daughter and friends playing in his yard. If she had already let her daughter know that it’s okay to talk to strangers, but not go anywhere with them, she would have nothing to worry about (i.e., her daughter is allowed to play in his backyard but not go into the house).
Yeah. On my facebook page, another staged video appeared – this one about leaving kids or dogs in hot cars. (They faked a dog being left in a hot car and almost baking to death.) The title of the facebook post was: “Leave your child or pet in your car and I will call the Police or break a window. Think before you do it.” My sister and I both posted a counter comment, and then the person who shared it said, “yeah, what I really meant was people need to use common sense.” But that’s not what the post says. It says “WILL” call the police / break a window. The obvious implication being that everyone else (who cares) should do the same.
I’ve also had other parents tell me of “scary incidents” when a man came near their kids and did nothing wrong. I generally respond with “most people are good, but trust your gut.” I do tell people not to talk all “stranger danger” around my kids.
As for the guy inviting kids over to play on his *backyard* trampoline, I’d either need to meet the guy or be able to watch from my window (or both). I don’t want to give my kids mixed signals. I’ve told my kids they can’t go into anyone’s backyard without prior permission from me. There’s a reason for that. Giving out permission without knowing anything about the guy would basically negate substance of the “don’t go with someone” rule.
@Lenore – have to disagree on this one. When I press play on this video, all I get is a dark void. Now, if a dark void pulled over and spoke to my 14 year old, I think she’d be pretty darn scared :-).
Seriously, it’s flooding around here at the moment and the kids had their school closed midday yesterday. I was annoyed at first as my girls are high schoolers, and I was teaching myself at a primary school a short distance away where everything seemed fine. Long story short it was worse than it looked and just as well the high school insisted we actually present ourselves to pick up the teens, but people were offering lifts to each other all over the place. Beds as well.
I hope in an emergency people in the States would exercise as much common sense and decency, and I’m sure y’all would, but nonsense like the above article makes you wonder. …What WOULD kids do there if there was an actual problem and a stranger offered help? Mine would take whatever was on offer….
There was a great story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about an elementary school close to the site of the terrible Amtrak train derailment. School officials opened the building in the middle of the night, first as a place for the less-seriously injured to be gathered before they were transported to the hospital, and then kept it open for the Red Cross volunteers and then to host families who were looking for their loved ones. Neighbors and people from across the city came with food and coffee. In the morning, school staff brought breakfast for the families, and the principal explained to parents and students why there were so many people (“strangers”) at the school. I can’t find the exact quote, but I recall he told reporters something like ‘It is good for the students to see that we are helping people.”
So now if I am driving down the street and see a child in need of help I probably shouldn’t stop to talk to said child. The child shouldn’t talk to me because I am a stranger. I will call the police if the child appears under 12 and doesn’t have her adult with her. We can’t have that.
Hineata – I hope you and yours are dry. I don’t know why, but in my mind I always had you living somewhere like Central Otago, not Wellington/Wairarapa.
In a free-range success story that would have the biddies grasping their pearls:
My three-year 2 months boy has just got the hang of toileting. We are visiting family at the moment and being social involving many trips to restaurants and cafes. Master Three has learnt the symbol on the doors indicating toilets and has started taking himself off when he needs to. He feels confident to do so, so we let him (mostly, we wait close by in case he needs help). As a Mum the best part is that he want’s to use the Men’s so less bum-wiping for me!
So far, unsurprisingly, he has not been abducted, molested or even approached. The worst that has happened is that he locked the cubicle then needed help with wiping, but didn’t want to get down to unlock the door because he had a dirty bum. (Eventually he wiped as best he could then climbed down to let Daddy in to finish the job)
Speaking of alarmist media, has anyone seen this utterly absurd story about how your kids are in dire peril if you *shudder* CHECK YOUR PHONE (!!!) while at the park? Ridiculous.
M, wow I just checked out the link your provided. Ridiculous! The premise is that if you look at your cell phone your kids are apt to engage in more risky behavior so don’t do it. Well, isn’t engaging in some risky behavior good for kids? Doesn’t it help them learn to calculate risks? I like how the article references “risky behavior” as if it’s trying meth or drunk driving or something.
Yeah, the media always seems determined to regress the ages of kids for more sympathy. When my family was in a fatal car accident, the front page above the fold, full color picture of me was shot at a really odd perspective, practically level with the road surface and from far away. It showed me relatively honestly looking very tiny and fragile on a very large backboard. And looking very alone… somehow they got this wide open look over the cliff and cutting out the ambulance 10 feet away. But the real point, of the low angle was to clearly show my sister’s face, but completely obscure the distance and hide her 15 year old, fully developed body behind me so as to make her look even smaller and more fragile than me.
After I got out of the hospital, but before I could walk. When dad took me shopping people would go into other isles and talk about me and my sister as “those poor tinny babes.” (The accident was awful, and we were in awful shape. But my sister was no “tinny babe.”) But the picture was more indelible than the ages given in the article.
I saw it again when a classmate was murdered by his father. I didn’t believe it was him, because the pictures on TV were from elementary school. And he was in 8th grade, puberty had changed him a lot before I met him. His high school age brother’s picture looked like it was from 6th grade.
Now I pay attention to ages and the description/appearance and age never do line up.
I am so tired of the little-girl-ification of young women in the media. I have a 5yo daughter. She is a little girl. A 14yo is a teen girl, or a young teen, or a young woman. I would have lost my s**t on anybody who would have dared to call me a “little girl” when I was 14. (And, honestly, calling a 14yo a “little girl” actually does kind of make the person saying it sound like a pedophile.) Today, I see 18 and 19 and 20 year old woman referring to themselves as “young girls.” It’s a weird, gross trend.
Funny, too, how these same “little girls” can be tried as adults if they commit a crime.
@Bronte, we’re fine thanks, just an unexpected day off 🙂 . Feel sorry for those doing clean up today though, as it’s looking pretty black again. I just thought it was nice for the News to have something other than Auckland’s housing crisis to go on about 🙂 ..And have been a North Islander all my life, and a Huttite for half of it – to my shame I think I have been to Malaysia more often than Central Otago! You’re a South Islander, right? Your son sounds hilarious. …I tried to do the same with mine, the earlier they can go to their own loo the easier for Mum, eh?!
And an glad but surprised he hasn’t been abducted yet. ..so many pedophiles hanging out in our public toilets, LOL 🙂
gpo613 – there was a sad case in England a few years ago: a little girl (this one really was little) wandered off from daycare. A truck driver saw her and suspected she might need help, but hesitated because he was afraid of being accused of molesting her. He didn’t stop. The girl ended up drowning in a shallow pond and the truck driver was so distraught that he came forward with his story. This event caused a major shift in society toward a more rational approach – NOT! Unfortunately, it’s gotten worse, not better, since then.
That lady tried to trick me into leaving my baby girl with her so she could steal her
What do I do? My precious little baby girl is only twelve! She’s just a baby!
Sorry posting on phone while watching daughter sleeping.
No nasty man is going to steal MY baby!
My family and I were waiting outside for seating on Mother’s Day for brunch when my brother-in-law and I saw a little boy crying in front of us, when we asked what was wrong he was crying he could not find his mommy. So we did the best thing we could in this situation….
We called my sister-in-law over and asked her to bring the boy inside to find his parents (who did not know he had wandered off in the packed restaurant).
As she came over I pointedly told her, that if she brings him in its ok, but these days if either me or my brother-in-law did we’d have the cops down for a possible abduction. As free range as I am, I don’t want to make myself a target, its sad that to trust my gut nowadays I have to worry about over reaction when I would rather just help out.
I have talked to people that are so absorbed in drugs that the high becomes their messiah! They get money for their habit by any means possible. I even saw a man rob his sisters house. The only money that he found was the piggy bank of his 8 year old nephew. He stolen that!
I see a similar pattern with some reporters. They MUST make the public outraged. There is no more limit on how the story gets angled in order to achieve the most emotions possible. While this is a scathing attack on the media. I donâ€™t mean to criticize them alone. They only supply a demand. My question is, are you one of the viewers that demand this kind of crap? Iâ€™m not asking if you enjoy these stories. Iâ€™m asking if it gets you to buy more newspapers, tune into the networks more often, or seek out that kind of click bait on the internet?
If you are, the real question is one to ask yourself. Why do I have the urge to do this? Why does this outrage bait work on me?
Some TV producers have similar morals to that of tobacco companies. The brain releases chemicals like adrenaline and dopamine. These can be addicting. This is why I consider Fox News and CSI to be the same as tobacco companies. However there is one difference. Tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise. They also have a limit to how much nicotine that they can put in their cigarettes. However there is no limit to how much scaremongering a news channel can put out. They can also broadcast as often as they want and can advertise as much as they want!
Great. This gives my husband an excuse for why he refuses to stop and ask for directions.
Driving in circles around public places is something I do on a regular basis, thanks to a toddler who hates being in the car and gets really upset if I stop without letting her out, or worse, get her out of the car and put her back in minutes later. So when we arrive five minutes early to pick up big sister from work, I drive in circles around the mall. Or picking up brothers from the library. Or letting one of my teens run into a store…
I’ve noticed that sometimes in discussions about free range and abductions, someone will claim that they’ve been “almost abducted,” even multiple times. Usually these stories are like the ones above. “A man talked to me, and I ran away! I’m lucky to be alive!”
OMG, that article about using phones at the park is ridiculous. I was sure it had to be from The Onion.
“Now, researchers have found a child playing on a playground is 3 times m ore likely to engage in risky behavior if their caregiver is using an electronic device. Those behaviors include running up slides, throwing sand or jumping off moving swings.”
Oh, no, not climbing up the slide! It’s the end of the world!
I solved the problem of needing to look at my phone while at the park by not going to the park any more. My kids go on their own and can do all the risky things they want without mom finding out. They even take the four-year-old with them. I don’t want to know what they’re doing.
OMG He had approached a girl and had a conversation with her? He was obviously assessing her value for the sex slave trade!
Isn’t jumping off a moving swing half the fun?
Here’s a REALLY scary statistic: 500 children are killed every year in the US by their own parents.
That’s far more than are murdered by strangers.
“more likely to engage in risky behavior if their caregiver is using an electronic device. Those behaviors include running up slides, throwing sand or jumping off moving swings.”
I’m tempted to bang my head against a brick wall, but that actually would be risky behavior.
Back when I was about 12 years old (so that would be 1980), I was riding my bike on the side of a busy road. The bolt holding my handlebars in place came loose, and I crashed (I still have a scar on my thumb from where it was scraped raw).
A man in a car stopped, helped me up, put my bike in his backseat and… drove me home.
More recently, in bad weather, I ended up in a ditch at about 2 in the morning. A trucker stopped, picked me up, and dropped me off at my destination (I called a tow truck the next day to pull me out of the ditch). Nicest man you’ve ever met.
Paranoia would have had me refusing both rides, as a bleeding child and as frustrated adult.
And as for the first incident, if it was today, multiple people would have been pulling out cell phones to report me as kidnapped by a strange man off the street.
Yes, there were a number of times when I accepted rides from “strange” men, both as an adult and as a teen. Especially back when I didn’t have a cell phone. Like the time when I had planned to ride my bike home (about 10 miles) and ended up caught in a heavy downpour with a flat tire. (I did have a tire fix-it kit, but I trusted my gut that this guy was safe and that thankfully accepting his help was a better solution at that moment.) Or the time when my car completely broke down on the freeway. Or the time when we arrived via Amtrak in the wee hours, half a day late, and didn’t want to wake the friend we had lined up to drive us home. (That time, the guy who gave us a ride to our high-crime-area college campus had several characteristics that some would consider higher-than-average risk, but our gut told us he was a good guy.) The gut has been right every time so far, and I’m not sorry for the decisions I made. I also want all the nice guys out there to know that some of us really appreciate their kindnesses.
That doesn’t mean I encourage my kids to get in people’s cars. 😉 Nor did my parents do so.
Jill, jumping off from your point about parents killing more kids than strangers.
Child abuse in the home is a big reason for cultural norms to include kids playing outside and interacting with other adults often. The more opportunities for outsiders to observe and interact in casual situations, the more likely a child will be able to tell someone about the abuse, or that excessive / unusual injuries will be noticed. In addition, sending the kids out to play (when developmentally appropriate) offers a needed break to stressed-out parents (and kids).
I suspect nothing will change until collectively society has become such a basket case that it collapses in fear.
So a guy stopped, asked if she needed a ride and then drove away when she said no? THIS is an attempted abduction?
If a guy asks me out on a date and leaves when I say no, has he now committed an attempted rape?
If a guy asks me for my car and leaves when I say no, has he now committed an attempted theft?
It’s like that guy who did nothing but drive down the road, a girl got scared and reported it, and the video of his car was on the news as an attempted abductor they were looking for. Poor guy had simply driven into town to buy a part for his boat. It’s a good thing he had a receipt to prove it, or he might be in jail and on the sex offender registry right now.
I am a big fan of free range parenting. Lately I have been thinking of counter-arguments to the idea preparing for when people disagree with me.
What do you think of a drunk driver speeding on the wrong side of the road? As long as the driver doesn’t hurt anyone, we can’t complain can we? No, certainly we would. Help out a free range parent, if we complain about this driver, why would we not complain about possible “abductions”?
@Wellington, because this was NOT a “potential abduction.” He made no attempt to abduct her.
It’s certainly possible he was flirting and trying to come on to her. He may not have realized she was 14. I could have easily passed for at least 18 when I was 14–people would mistake me for a substitute teacher in my high school when I was a freshman. A 50yo guy hitting on a girl who looks 18 or 20 might be distasteful, but it’s not criminal.
He didn’t follow her. He didn’t threaten her. He didn’t attempt to force her into the car. When she declined a ride and walked away, he left her alone. That’s not what a “potential abduction” looks like. Kidnappers don’t politely ask kids if they want a ride and then shrug and drive away if they say no.
“Child abuse in the home is a big reason for cultural norms to include kids playing outside and interacting with other adults often.”
Right there with you. The idea that we as a society consider it safe and bucolic for children to be hidden away, and consider the cities a horrid danger is a prejudice that underlines much of the debate. I’ll venture also that it is an old difference of opinion. Many of the debates about free range bring me back to a line from Sherlock Homes in “The Copper Beeches”
“The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.”
And I think by encouraging parents to lock all children from view, and teaching them not to talk to ‘strangers’ we are forcing children, regardless of surrounding environment, to live in “lonely house” where “deeds of hellish cruelty, … may go on, year in, year out, …and none the wiser.”
The photo is hilarious, because it looks like that guy (the stand-in ubiquitous “creep”) is actually driving a Mini Cooper! Look out!
When I was 8, the people downstairs’ daughter was responsible for letting me in the house when we got off the school bus (we both were in the same elementary school but she was a 6th grader while i was 3rd); I only had a key for our own apartment. Of course, one day the neighbor kid had gotten picked up from school early for some doctor appointment or other and I went home to realize I had no way in to the house. It was a nice cold November in buffalo (NY), but if nothing else, I’d been taugh stranger danger/don’t go into anyone’s house. So I just kinda sat frustrated. Our very nice next door neighbor lady (who was older and had a puppy) heard me crying and offered to let me come in her house and warm up/call mom at work and explain. But noooooo, I’m not supposed to talk/go with strangers (waaaaaahhh!). Finally I wound up giving the lady my mom’s ‘work number’, and they talked and mom said it was okay and so after about an hour and a half of this stuff, I went in her house and she let me call mom back to let her know I was okay. Then the neighbor gave me a snack and I played with her puppy more than I did homework til mom came over after work and picked me up and they became friends; and Ms. Barbara became my emergency place to go if the situation happened again (people downstairs’ kid not with me to let me in).
No, I still didn’t get my own key to the outside door.
Well, I did click on the link and read the story. Now according to the story, the man said to the girl, “You have beautiful eyes… Do you play sports? Do you want a ride? I’m not going to hurt you”. IF this is true and IF this is what the man truly said to the girl, and that’s a big IF, I can understand why police would investigate the matter. But if the guy merely said to the girl “You have beautiful eyes… Do you play sports?” and said nothing further, I would not see a problem with that when most people would. But then he goes on to say, “Do you want a ride? I’m not going to hurt you”. Now there is when the red flag goes up. Perhaps the man had no intention of hurting the girl and maybe she was just “eye candy” to him but offering her a ride and saying he’s not going to hurt her would be a creepy thing to say even TO AN ADULT WOMAN.
But with that said, I do question if that is what the man truly said to the girl. Because we inundate our kids with pedophilia paranoia perhaps the girl was exaggerating the dialogue. My gut feeling is that those things the man supposedly said to the girl were not said in succession as the article seems to imply. Perhaps the man and the girl were in the same general area and started to engage in conversation when the man complimented the girl by saying, “You know, you’ve got beautiful eyes. Do you play sports?” Then there probably was more dialogue between the man and the girl when the girl finally said that she had to get going. That is when the man could have asked the girl if she needed a lift somewhere. So the girl might have said that she doesn’t take rides from strangers (Very wise on her part and a big part of the free range concept of empowering your kids). That could have been when the man chuckled and said to the girl, “Why? I’m not gonna hurt you”.
Now if this is how the dialogue truly went, it brings the matter into a whole new perspective and does not sound nearly as creepy as the article lays it out. BUT, either way, it is not wise for an adult to offer a kid he doesn’t know a ride somewhere in most circumstances. This was true even in the 1950s and 60s. The man was questioned and not charged so the matter was probably not as nefarious as the article suggests. Was the man a foreigner or maybe a new immigrant to the United States? The article didn’t say but if so, that would shed some light on things. When I lived and worked in Israel a few years back, it was very common to see young kids as young as 12 or 13 hitchhike around the country and people would pick them up. Many other countries are not nearly as paranoid of strangers around kids as we are in the United States and other western countries.
Once I was looking for some antenna parts that had been left in a field. I drove around to find the field and even stopped my auto looking into a cul de sac where children were playing. I didn’t find the field that day, but I did get a visit from police shortly after asking what I was doing.
The nation is all messed up.
This is typical of human psychology. I’ve always known this about people. But when I started watching the show “Brain Games” (a show about how and why people think the way they do, and do what they do because of it), what I’ve realized was actually explained by science. There is actually a scientific name for the “monkey see, monkey do” attitude people have. And many don’t even realize they are actually doing it. I highly encourage everyone here to check out the show. It will help to understand others, and allow you to be well equipped when having to confront these sheeple. 😉
If the girl, and every other kid for that matter, did the smart thing and not go off with the person. As well as knowing what to do, if that person was being persistent. It doesn’t matter who talks to them. Because they will always keep themselves safe. But that is the key thing, if they KNOW. Sadly, most kids these days are never taught how to fend for themselves. They are constantly sheltered, and never taught street smarts. Many parents have the band-aid approach. Just covering up a big problem, instead of actually solving it. And the best way to solve it, is by empowering our children. Think about it. Imagine ALL children are confident, with relatively good self-esteem, they know how to navigate their surroundings. They know how to pick up on or spot potential danger, and capable of reacting accordingly. Including working together as a group, with no adult supervision. Strength in numbers. Would be abductors would think twice. This isn’t a stretch. This used to be the way kids were, until this generation.
Bezos bought the Washington Post.
Rupert Murdoch owns damned near everything else.
What more could be said?
I’ve given up reading almost all US media outlets. No cable TV either. The internet has virtually destroyed the idea of “journalism.” Instead, I look mainly to Canada for readable on-line news coverage. A lot less clickbait, and a lot longer stories, for in-depth coverage.
Somebody thought the 1st Amendment would act as a check on government. High tech has found a way around all this. They put it right in your pocket. An electronic Orwell.
I hate this culture of fear that has been created. I see evidence of this everywhere. Where I live I see almost as many dads & grandparents at pick up & drop off as mom’s. Maybe some dads work closer or have more flexible hours or maybe they work out of the home, but they are just as much the caregivers as mom’s in my community. I am also greatly concerned that a disproportional amount of this fear is directed towards men, very evident in this story,I will never forget this story in our local paper a few years ago is a perfect example of this fear.
and this is a letter to the editor about the story is I just love as well.
I’m not sure if the Measles Hysteria that began at Disneyland at the end of 2014 & the early part of 2015 and the proposed new legislation that followed has made it to you, but this is insanity at it’s best. You can do your own internet search of “Disneyland measles facts” any you will find some fact, a lot of fiction & a lot of crazy twisting of the truth and exaggeration, worse case & doomsday scenarios. There were a couple hundred cases related to the cases that began at Disneyland. Out of those cases over half were in adults & probably only a quarter in school aged children. About half were fully or partially vaccinated yet they demonized the small percentage of people / children who are not. The news also blamed upper class white people when that is not the truth. People from all walks of life are not vaccinated for a variety of reasons. I’m not trying to start a vaccine debate, but the point I’m making that is a few hundred cases in a state with over 30 million people is not a outbreak & the danger was greatly exaggerated & every suspected case was reported as though it was fact furthering this hysteria. The mom’s groups on Facebook became battle grounds & there was talk on the view (Whoopie Goldberg) about making people wear something to indicate to the public if they were unvaccinated (yellow star anyone?). Parents were afraid to take their children outside of the home out of fear. Now that they Hysteria has died down, but it’s still fresh in everyone’s memory the California Senators are pushing through & trying to fast track a bill to remove both the religious & personal belief exemption even though they only make up about 3% of the the California school children. California school children are vaccinated at well above the recommended rates to achieve community immunity, yet this is not good enough. Parents who do not want to comply with the Draconian law (if passed) will be forced to homeschool or leave the state or see what fate awaits them.
I suppose this is not exactly free range or only sort of is, but is is a perfect example of how fear spreads & is used against us.
John – Regardless of what way he said it, being “creepy” is not actually a crime. We don’t get to harass people just for being creepy; they have to commit a crime too.
Donna…..I would DEFINITELY agree that it was not a crime but at the same time, I can understand why the police looked into it as it did look somewhat fishy. Regardless, the man was investigated and let go which should reinforce the fact that what he did was NOT a crime.
Sigh, more trolls today?
John – The police can’t look into something because it “appears fishy” when, like in this case, it is perfectly clear that no crime actually occurred. That is just harassing someone for being creepy.
An abduction attempt would entail a physical interaction, the description of the *potential* situation here is a child luring.
Not that having conversation is a crime.
These stupid stories always make the news probably because of the power of the paranoid on social media. A few months back, a mom posted on Facebook about her teen daughter being spoken to by a man in a white SUV. She demanded the school district do something to alert parents to be on alert for child lurings. The vehicle was spotted again in the neighborhood and it made the news.
Days later, in much smaller news, the man behind this *luring* went to police to explain. He was trying to turn into his driveway and this girl was walking in the middle of the street. He was trying to ask her to move out of the way when she freaked out at being spoken to.
Perhaps the mom should talk to her teen about not walking in the path of cars vs. creating a socially inept citizen who doesn’t obey basic pedestrian safety rules.
that would be her “teenage child” was approached by a stranger in a white SUV I love it when they use that. “The Teen child was understandably frightened when approached.” Why do they say Naturally and understandably? this should not be the go to reaction. especially for someone who is a teenager.
if a young woman is traumatized from being told to get out of the way by a driver either she is way overly sensitive ,overly entitled and offended someone “yelled at her” or she mouthed back and was afraid of getting in trouble and made up a story
And here is why men must never approach other children. If a child risks falling off a train platform and under a train to be cut in half, so be it. At least that’s the way society seems to have gone.
When I was in high school, we had a unit based on the book “The Crucible”. Basically, it’s about the hysteria that lead to the Salem witch trials.
We spent a long time having discussions about fear mongering, rumors, suspicion, and how it makes a community tear itself apart at the seams. Not to mention the racism of blaming the Black slave for starting the whole thing in the first place, when it wasn’t even her fault.
Why isn’t anyone having this conversation anymore?
You won’t believe this, but it’s true. A “young woman” I met recently told me about living in Virginia for a year or so recently. She had a place to stay, little money. No car. She got around by hitchhiking. She was maybe 20. This was recently. When she no longer had a place to stay, she got a job in another place and moved on. She loved going to new places, and was very resourceful. After a few such adventures, she went to college. No harm done! No “bad” experiences. Just life. I was happy to meet a person like that. My friends and I lived like that when we were “young women”. Good to know it still happens. Kudos to her parents! They did not raise a “hot house plant”.
The common wisdom is “sex sells,” but since the evening news has to be PG regarding sex (but not regarding violence, of course, this is ‘murrica after all) they use the next best thing, “fear sells.”
My sister (two young kids, two post-graduate degrees) is a smart savvy lady, but will still ‘shush’ the car & turn up the radio if she hears about a missing kid or school violence, even though she’s basically a free-ranger. Brainwashing is effective indeed.
The people in media will do literally anything to maintain and increase their viewers, including but not limited to stranger danger, UFO sightings, satanic daycares, evil muslims, etc etc. I’m expecting soon to start seeing film of random guys in beat-up old cars labelled in tiny type ‘stock footage’ while a breathless woman news reader begs for ratings “. . . a man in a car glanced briefly at a kid today & we want to know what’s being done about it.”
Your point highlights a huge reason for the fear epidemic
Some companies make a huge profit. I worked for a company that manufactured water valves. We wanted to sell a valve for ‘safety’ reasons. Our valve mixes hot and cold water to produce warm. We lobbied very heavily and reprinted very rare occurrences. We printed stories often about a toddler that turned on the bath without his mother knowing. He mistakenly turned on the hot water only. When the bath was 4 inches deep he stepped into it and was burned. We used pictures (from somewhere else) for 3rd degree burns. The foot was chard. It’s impossible that this picture was of the child that burned himself. For it to be an authentic picture he would have had to hold his foot under running hot water (almost boiling) for minutes. We splashed this grewsome picture in as many newspapers as we could.
Our scaremongering worked. It’s illegal for a house in Australia to not have this valve. We sell them to all builders nation wide. By law no house can be built unless it has our safety valve in it.
These valves adjust the temperature of the water by automatically mixing the correct amount of hot water with the cold and maintain a set temperature for the outlet water. This tempered water is piped to the areas where accidents most often happen i.e. showers, baths, basins. No more than 55 degrees Celsius for residential homes as per the plumbing code
We did another scare mongering project.
It’s possible to take a shower and plug up the drain so that you are standing in soapy water while you shower. It’s also possible to have a handheld shower attachment and the shower head can be submerged into this soapy water. If during this time the city water pipes break, your handheld shower head will siphon the soapy water into the city water.
This is why you cannot buy a handheld shower without also purchasing our 2 safety valves (in case one leaks there is a backup) that prevents this from happening. Our two valves are incorporated into one. It is a double non return valve. It’s illegal to have a handheld shower without using our hose (or our competitor)
My 8yo kids brought up “stranger danger” today. Thursday had been a busy evening and I asked them to go stand in line at Chipotle while I stopped into FedEx. They declined. When we finished at FedEx, the line at Chipotle was too long for the amount of time we had left, so they didn’t get their expected treat.
So Friday night my kid brought it up. She said the reason she didn’t want to stand in line at Chipotle was that their aunties talk so much about people taking children, she gets scared, even though I say things are safe. Clearly she was trying to make sense of the conflicting views.
I told her that the aunties watch TV news all the time, and every time one bad thing happens somewhere far away, it gets reported numerous times in the news until it seems like it’s happening thousands of times right here in our town. I asked them how many times anyone ever tried to snatch them, and they answered “zero,” and I said that’s how many times anyone is likely to try in the future also.
They seemed convinced.
Then they brought it up to the aunties. “You see all these news stories about bad things, but it’s the same thing being broadcast over and over. That’s all they do on the news. They never show anything good that happens.” To which the auntie said, with raised eyebrows, “I can see you are being influenced by your mother.” (With the implication, of course, that I’m leading them astray.)
Is abduction what people are really worried about, or the sex that follows?
First of all, at least one study found most teen girls’ first sexual experience is with older males, and the experience is usually voluntary and reported as enjoyable by the teens. Second, most reports of so-called statuatory rape are from the parents not the supposed victim herself. Finally, there is good reason to believe that lack of sexual stimulation during development is the likely cause of subsequent sexual dysfunction in two-thirds of women today (according to two separate surveys).
Ironically, “Ada” is the title of a great novel by Vladimir Nabokov about sibling incest.
Disclaimer: No children were harmed in the manufacturing of this outrage.
Now wait a second. I know we’re all free range here, but we have to use common sense. A grown man pulls over to talk to a 14 year old he doesn’t know. Tries to chat with her, compliments her, and then asks her if she wants a ride. And NO ONE here finds that inappropriate/suspicious? That’s not normal behavior. Sometimes this group goes too far in defending free range. We need a middle ground with common sense. This guy was wrong and police are right to warn people to keep an eye out.
Elizabeth – People do not walk around life with their ages blinking in neon above their heads (thank god). By 14, I was already a DD and almost always mistaken for a coed in our college town. Having no more information than we have above, there is nothing to indicate that this man was creepy at all. He was probably trying to hit on the girl, but we don’t know that he believed her to be a minor when he did so. We DO know that that he stopped, had a brief conversation and proceeded on about his business when she, I assume, turned down his offer of a ride. He did not touch her, threaten her, follow her or in any way try to force her to do anything she didn’t want to do.
Men trying to hit on women is absolutely perfectly normal behavior. Even when the woman is not interested. It doesn’t fail to be normal when he makes a reasonable mistake about her age. If he was trying to pick up a 5 year old with the same scenario, it might be different, but 14 year olds frequently look like adults, particularly from a distance.
@sexhysteria – can you please find a website that will help you deal with your issues? You and your wife or partner can find help for her ‘dysfunction’. Talking to someone might help.
In the interim, no one with any brain cells would suggest that rape, the sort of ‘sex’ associated with abduction, is in any way helpful for teen girls. And how you could think it might help with ‘female sexual dysfunction’ is absolutely beyond me. Are you an ex-rapist attempting to justify your actions?
@Elizabeth, it’s just as likely that the situation was “Man pulls over to chat up young woman he thinks is attractive; drives away and leaves her alone when she indicates she is not interested.” Many 14yos do not look physically that much different than 17, 18, or 19 year olds. Is a 50yo guy hitting on 18yos something we should celebrate or promote? Probably not. But, men hitting on younger women is kind of a fact of human life, and post-pubescent minor teen girls who look physically indistinguishable from post-pubescent of-age teen girls are going to get hit on and need to know how to handle it. This girl handled it well, and no harm was done. We can’t criminalize or pathologize men finding attractive post-pubescent young women attractive.
On a side note, if we really, truly do not want men ever hitting on 14yos, perhaps we can, as a culture, stop celebrating bodies that look far more like the bodies of women just out of puberty than the bodies of grown women as the female ideal. But it seems a bit silly to have 40 year old women aspiring to look like 14 year old teen girls, because we believe that’s what an attractive female body looks like, but then lose our crap when a man finds said body attractive.
I am certainly not in favor of 50 year old men hitting on teen girls. However, it’s fully reasonable he did not realize she was underage, and she wasn’t a small child he was attempting to manipulate. A guy driving up and trying to get a 6 year old into his car is putting the child in a situation beyond what they might be able to understand. A 14yo teen should get what’s going on when a grown man tells her she has pretty eyes and offers her a ride and, as this teen did, she is fully capable of saying no and walking away. I was a pretty naive teen, and even I understand when men were hitting on me, and I was a pretty compliant teen, but even I had the wherewithal to rebuff and walk away from any advances. If this man had threatened her, detained her, or otherwise forced or manipulated her, that would have been a problem, but the situation as it is just seems like some probably-skeezy old guy hitting on a young thing with a woman’s body who he thought was hot, and then taking no for an answer. That is not a matter for the police.
I don’t see an age for the man anywhere in what we have. He could just as easily be 18 as 50. But that is the problem with making conclusions with so little information. Some seem to jump in their mind to the a 14 year old who has not yet hit puberty and a middle aged man even though there is nothing to indicate that that was the case here.
The description in the reports did say the man appeared to be in his 50s.
I didn’t see a photo of the 14yo girl. But some of what he allegedly said would not normally be said to someone you’d think an adult. Do you play sports? Do you need a ride? I’m not going to hurt you. Why would a middle-aged guy say that to someone he thought was a legitimate dating prospect?
I guess I’m on the fence on this one. At any rate, the girl’s creep-meter went off and I think we have to respect that.
They should have focused more on the fact that the girl did the right thing – listened to her gut, did not get in the car, ran away, told someone who could decide what to do about it.
Another thing – even if the guy really is a creep, he hasn’t committed a crime, so they can’t do anything to prevent him from trying with other girls. So that would be a reason to say “report any suspicious activity” rather than “this was a false alarm.”
SKL – Those things seem like perfectly reasonable things to ask a college aged adult to me. “Do you play sports” is the most odd, but the question could have made perfect sense in context. Asking a particularly fit woman around here if she played a sport would not be odd as we have a college campus loaded with women’s sports as well as a number of very active adult leagues.
I’m not sure why you would think someone wouldn’t offer a walking adult a ride or try to reassure one that seemed unsure about you.
I admit that trying to pick up a coed aged woman while in your 50s is a bit questionable if that is what he was even doing. We tend to look at these situations as if everyone thinks exactly like us. In many places in the world, offering rides is normal. Anytime I walked 2 steps in A. Samoa, someone stopped and offered me a ride. The idea that someone would WANT to walk is foreign to them, as you would expect if you ever meet a Samoan from A. Samoa (they tend to be morbidly obese).
And it isn’t even just foreign cultures. My only time in the suburbs was the few years I lived in suburban San Diego/Orange County. We were considered oddities for walking places. It was considered normal to walk for exercise or to walk the dog or to walk behind your kid riding a bike, but actually walking to a destination like the grocery store or restaurant was just not done, even if said grocery store or restaurant was just a block or two away.