Warning! 50-ish Woman Seen Offering Ride to Kids!

Dateline: Montreal — and talk about scary: A middle-aged woman was seen offering a 13-year-old girl a lift. But wait! It gets worse. Possibly the SAME woman also recently offered a ride to a 10-year-old.  Can you believe it? How brazen! As if she’s just some nice lady and it’s cold outside!  She didn’t drag the kids into the car or insist they get in, but still — isn’t it pretty obvious she’s a pedophile on the loose, or part of the white slave trade? Why ELSE would any adult ever be nice to a child?

I wish I could embed the video news report (because this sure IS news), but I can’t, so here’s the link. It explains that warnings have been sent out to all the schools, day care centers and stores in the neighborhood where this would-be unspeakable tragedy occurred.

That’s good, but I still don’t recommend watching this story right before bed, or you will have nightmares. (Especially if, like me, you are a middle-aged lady who likes to be nice to strangers. Even young ones.) – L.

The possible perp drives a grey car, and you know how scary those are!

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63 Responses to Warning! 50-ish Woman Seen Offering Ride to Kids!

  1. Donna February 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    What always gets me about these stories is that, even if I think the woman’s behavior is a little odd – and I sorta do – it isn’t criminal. Why are these people calling the police and why are the police taking a report and sending out warnings? This woman did nothing legally wrong. Talking to a child isn’t illegal. Offering a child a ride isn’t illegal. Even if she intended to kidnap the child, offering a ride is not a substantial step in furthering that crime to make it attempted kidnapping. She has done nothing to warrant police involvement.

    And these warnings are not a vague “we’ve had reports of someone offering rides to kids at bus stops so you may want to make sure you remind your kids not to get into cars with strangers.” These warnings give full descriptions of the people and the cars as if they are suspects in actual crimes. I hope someone of means and indignation gets so identified after something completely innocuous and sues the pants off of the police.

  2. Jenna K. February 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    A couple of years ago, when my kids actually got a bus, I was heading to the store with my pre-school kids (ages 3 and 4), and I saw one of the kids who is always at the bus stop walking. At that time, the only way to get to the school was to go around this long way that was nearly two miles. I knew he had probably just missed the bus. I thought about offering him a ride, but then I thought to myself that someone might think I was trying to abduct him. So I didn’t do anything. I’m sure he was about an hour late to school. Our society is so paranoid that good people sometimes don’t stop to help because they don’t want to be accused of anything.

  3. Warren February 9, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Hang on, nice try Lenore. HA HA HA. You know how I can tell this is a phony story, the suspected predator is a woman, and not a man.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. For all we know, the kids just didn’t recognize the mom of a friend, because let’s face it, we really do not look our best at -20 degrees.

  4. Kimberly February 9, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    My HS was basically across a road and football practice field from the JH my sister and cousins attended. One overcast day I was driving home, I saw my cousin K (2nd cousin our Dads are 1st cousins) walking home. There was bolt of lightening a clap of thunder and the sky opened. I honked, pulled an Uturn and popped the door open as I pulled up to him – and he dove in my car.

    In the less than 3 minutes it took me to drive to his house -someone called his mom and reported the kidnapping. She was white faced (and believe me for her that was something) when we pulled up and he jumped out. She gave me a tongue lashing about how he wasn’t to ride in my car. She hadn’t recongized it when the neighbor described the kidnapping. I drove home – across the street. Technically I had broken a family rule – so I fessed up to Mom.

    Mom said of course you picked him up it is raining buckets out there not to mention the thunder was is right on top of the lightening. I told her that K’s Mom was mad. She rolled her eyes. That night K’s Dad called to complain – my Dad asked him if I was supposed to let him walk home on flooded streets with near zero visibility and lightening dancing all around us. When he got off the phone he said he always knew the man was fool but know he proved he was an idiot.

    Fast forward 5 years. I’m driving near another cousin’s house (I have almost 30 1st cousins and 60 2nd cousins most I know pretty well). Same thing. Younger cousin (this one is a 1st cousin once removed – his mom and I are 1st cousins) is walking home, threatening sky opens up and hell comes down. I honk, turn around, he jumps in my car – a concerned neighbor calls his mom. She asks well what kind of car was it (at least 6 relatives live in the area plus all the friends). Neighbor tells her. She says oh that is ok that is Kimberly’s car, oh they are pulling in right now. Comes out and insist that I come in for lunch and wait the storm out sense visibility is so bad.

  5. bmj2k February 9, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    Hmm. Small town, 2 incidents in 2 weeks, I’m tempted to say that this woman probably knows the kids’ parents, maybe the kids didn’t recognize her. What is unknown is if she offered rides to any other kids who did recognize her and got to school safe and sound. On the other hand, the kids did the right hting not getting into a car with a stranger. Is the news sensationalizing it? Seems like maybe nothing lese was happening locally, slow news cycle = big deal of this.

  6. Beadydee February 9, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    My mom has an irrational fet of grasshoppers. One afternoon, just before getting into her car she saw one jump in. Frozen in terror, she did what any rational 50+ woman would do…offered two passing 10yr old boys $5 to get the little bugger out of her car! They effectively eradicated the little monster and my mom happily paid them for their kind service. It was hours later that my mom realized that offering kids money to get into her car may not have been the wisest choice!

  7. amy February 9, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    Why would she ask them if they need a ride when they are obviously about to get on the school bus? I’m sorry, but that IS creepy and suspicious. If her motives were to be caring and helpful, she would also have enough sensitivity and common sense to know how inappropriate her offer was. I cant see how this could possibly be construed as an innocent act, no matter how hard I try, even putting myself in her shoes. You don’t offer a strange kid a ride if you are normal and they are not in need of a ride.

  8. LadyTL February 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    I have gotten rides from strangers over a dozen times in my life from middle school to now and nothing bad has ever happened. Other than a concerned stranger saw a girl walking in bad weather of one sort or another with a huge overstuffed bag and had been walking for a while and so kindly stopped to offer them a ride. They always are very nice people too and it is nice in 100 degree heat or pouring rain or freezing temps to see that not everyone forgets about compassion. When I am driving I do the same too now. I might be doing the same favor to some other over stressed person who is walking in bad weather because they have to not because they want to.

  9. Emily February 9, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    The craziest thing I found about the video was all the scary language, about “predators,” etc., juxtaposed against images of a very nice, safe, middle-class neighbourhood, including “Ecole Good Shepherd,” while the people who were offering to “shepherd” kids to that school, were being treated like criminals.

  10. Warren February 10, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    Even in here people are jumping to conclusions.

    Through years of helping at the schools, coaching, my kids going to their friends, and vice versa, there are dozens after dozens of kids that I recognize all over the area. Do they recognize me, probably a 50/50 chance. Would that stop me from offering them a ride in the winter, or the heat, or a storm? No.

    Again, this will turn into one of those issues, that people will not help out a child, on the off chance that they will be pegged as a predator. Stranger danger at it’s finest. The only danger is stranger danger itself.

  11. hineata February 10, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    Wow – that place looks COLD. If I was driving past – always assuming I could actually keep a car on the road in that kind of ice! – I think I would offer lifts to anyone I saw hanging out waiting for a bus. Personally I often pull over at the bus stops in our street and give the oldies waiting lifts, or the odd neighbour, and our weather don’t get that freezing…

    I’m a frizzy-haired blondish fatish 40ish white-looking chick, in case you want to warn your kids in advance, LOL!

  12. hineata February 10, 2013 at 5:18 am #

    PS., Happy Chinese New Year, everyone :-)

  13. Tsu Dho Nimh February 10, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    @Amy … perhaps the child was waiting in weather that was well below freezing, or in near-freezing rain? Or was ill-dressed for the conditions?

    I checked the weather for Montreal over the past two weeks and it’s been nasty.

  14. Sutton Keany February 10, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    You know …. it is easy to be rhetorical and harumphy. But you don’t have to be a full-blown Manichean heretic to know that bad things do happen. And good procedures and rules reduce the incidence of bad things.
    The police reacted as they did because investigations of bad events of this sort often reveal that the perp made various testing runs before actually committing an act.
    If you accept that there are bad or disturbed persons out there, how can you impose on the child the task of distinguishing between the malevolent and the benign.

  15. Coccinelle February 10, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Nooo not here!!! Seriously, I dreaded the time I would first hear about Quebec in here. That’s not good news.

    I think about this site every times I think about what they did with our school. They amputated the really small school yard for a sort of drop-off area where the cars can stop without blocking all the street.

    It’s a vicious cycle that creeps everywhere: http://vorige.nrc.nl/international/article2039676.ece/Taking_the_kids_to_school_by_car_is_dangerous

  16. Ravana February 10, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    What kind of idiot offers strange kids waiting at a school bus stop a ride? It isn’t like she’s offering rides to kids walking along the side of the highway in a snow storm. The kids obviously have a ride coming, they are waiting at a school bus stop! Predator or not, there is something very off about the person in the car and the kids all did the right thing. They refused the ride and reported the incidents to an adult. Even in my childhood era of being kicked out of the house at dawn and not allowed to return until dusk this would have been considered very questionable behavior on the part of the driver.

  17. Captain America February 10, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    This is funny. I just heard today, Sunday Morning, about a female pastor who, on a week night, picks up various kids around town, feeds them dinner and then does a Bible study, on her own. Dangerous, eh?

  18. Puzzled February 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    @Sutton: What you’re looking for is Bayesian calculations. Simply put, it is utterly unhelpful to say “Those who eventually did B often did A beforehand” without providing any information about the background rate of A. Consider – the vast majority of those who ended up committing murder had, beforehand, consumed hot dogs, usually within less than a month of the murder.

  19. lollipoplover February 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    I bet y money this was a busybody who thought kids are fragile and may freeze to death outside at a bus stop or shouldn’t be seen *alone* in public. She offered the ride but now she’s the bad guy. The irony is delicious.

  20. Warren February 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    It is a sad state of affairs, when someone is automatically deemed dangerous, without knowing a damn thing about them. The fact that the police are investigating and issuing warnings is disheartening.

    There very well could be a nice woman sitting at home right now stressed out, full of anxiety, worry and afraid to leave her home.

    This is so stupid. We want community, we want a sense of belonging, and yet we will target kindness, with police action.

  21. pentamom February 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    “What kind of idiot offers strange kids waiting at a school bus stop a ride? It isn’t like she’s offering rides to kids walking along the side of the highway in a snow storm. The kids obviously have a ride coming, they are waiting at a school bus stop! Predator or not, there is something very off about the person in the car and the kids all did the right thing.”

    Yes, goodness knows, it couldn’t just be someone being nice, thinking, “Gosh, if I had to stand outside for another 10 minutes waiting for a bus, I’d be really cold, so maybe this child could be spared that.”

    I mean, unless a person is obviously at risk of dying, you’re either a horrible predator or an overbearing busybody if you think, “Gee, I wouldn’t like to be in that person’s shoes, maybe I’ll help them out.” Just being nice isn’t an excuse for anything and it’s nobody else’s business to wonder if someone else might be uncomfortable and like something nice done for them.

    That said, maybe there is something not-right going on here. But goodness sakes, the mere fact that she offered rides to kids who did not ABSOLUTELY NEED them is hardly an indicator. People are allowed to just be nice.

  22. lollipoplover February 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Last year, there was a lead news story in our area about an attempted “child luring”. Seems a foreign couple stopped a boy walking his dog, asked him to come up to the car because they were lost. The reporters had the make and model for viewers as the boy reported it immediately. I guess no one thought they might actually be lost.

  23. Warren February 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    For all those who are saying that this lady does not know the kids, and therefore shouldn’t offer them a ride, I have a question.

    How do you know that she does not know the kids?

  24. Nic February 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I agree with Amy, it does sound suspicious. My daughter was approached by a woman in a car last year in grade 6. She called to her out of the window and told her mum said to come and get her. My quick thinking daughter told her “my mums dead”. At that point the car quickly left. Surely if you knew who you were asked to pick up you would know their name. I am not an alarmist, but it did ring alarm bells. Not all people who look like grandma’s or are women are innocent, and in no way would I condone someone offering my daughter a lift unless it was pre-arranged. Needless to say she walked to our designated meeting point again the next day, fully aware that she had to skills to do so. Our local police also found the circumstances suspect, if not unusual, and praised her for her quick thinking.

  25. hineata February 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    @pentamom – amen!

    And actually, wouldn’t you be more likely to pick up someone at a bus stop? In my area the bus is only going one of two places, and I would be more inclined to pick up someone from the bus stop because I know their likely/actual destination (dependent on age, uniform etc) and therefore whether I am passing close to their way.

    If someone is just walking down the road they could be going any place, and unless the weather is completely foul/dangerous, (or I knew the person well) I would be less likely to offer a ride.

    Do the buses in Montreal go all over the place?

  26. Earth.W February 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    It is advisable to teach children to never accept rides from strangers regardless of gender.

  27. Amy U February 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    @Warren: The kids did not know her. The parents would surely have said, “Well, with all that curly red hair, it must’ve been SoAndSo,” if they knew her.

    @Tsu: Yes, I’m sure the weather was so very cold. But they live there, and they know that before they set off for the school bus five days every week.

    Compare and contrast the folllowing with the article we are discussing:

    We live in a rural are, and my kids walk a half mile to the bus stop. The weather here is similar and sometimes I really hate sending them out in it, but I know they’ll be fine if they’re properly dressed. One freezing cold morning, they missed the bus but didn’t know it.

    A lady who lives nearby, but whom we didn’t know at the time, met the bus, then further down the road saw my kids waiting for it, and realized they’d missed it. Rather than them walking all the way back home in the frigid weather, she gave them a ride home. Then proceeded to offer them a ride to school AFTER she introduced herself to me and explained the situation and where she lives. THAT was kindness and completely appropriate. Wow!

  28. Warren February 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    She is described by police as a French-speaking woman in her fifties, with red-brown curly hair.

    This is copied from the article. Is there another one out there that has her described as Reba McEntire of 15 years ago?

    Your answer still does not address my question. How do you know the lady didn’t know the kid?
    I know lots of kids in our area, and have never met their parents. Most of these kids see me clean shaven, clean and dressed for social reasons. Alot of them do not recognize me in my service truck, covered in dirt and grease, and wearing coveralls.

    And are you telling me that at a distance, in a car, dressed for winter, that kids will recognize someone, especially if the meeting was a simple intro to a friends mom? No they won’t.

  29. Donna February 10, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    So you find the actions suspicious. So what? They are not illegal in the least. This is what we want the police doing; tracking down people who have done absolutely nothing wrong? What are the police going to do if they find her? Even if she has no good reason for stopping to offer those kids a ride, the police can’t arrest her. They can’t make her to stop offering kids rides. Heck, even if she admits that she was planning on kidnapping those kids, they can’t arrest her because no crime actually occurred.

  30. Warren February 11, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    As usual, when it comes to something to do with children………guilty untill proven innocent. Even then, society will never forget, and assume you are still guilty, but lucky.

  31. Donna February 11, 2013 at 1:22 am #

    This isn’t guilty until proven innocent. This is being found guilty even though no crime occurred. This is Minority Report precrime stuff – we think you may be thinking about committing a crime so we’ll treat you as if that crime occurred and you committed it.

  32. Silvia Wilson February 11, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Heck, I got rides from strangers in high school during a transit strike. It was quite the thing; cars stopped at red lights would open their windows and negotiate with pedestrians going the same way.

    I never quite had the guts of a friend of my brother’s whose GF moved to Whitehorse, so he hitchhiked there from the east coast for the summer.

  33. pentamom February 11, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    “@Tsu: Yes, I’m sure the weather was so very cold. But they live there, and they know that before they set off for the school bus five days every week.”

    Oh, well, hey that makes it not feel cold then, and not a nice thing to do to spare someone walking in that if you have the opportunity.

    Why can’t it just be nice?

    Again, it could be not-nice. But the mere fact that people could survive if you don’t help them is not a reason to conclude that an offer to help is probablyt be the first step in a crime.

    BTW, Earth W. is right — if the kids didn’t know the lady, it was right for them not to accept the rides. But that does not mean that we must necessarily conclude that her motives were evil and that she intended to do something illegal, dangerous, or evil. That’s a non sequitur.

  34. Andy February 11, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    I know I’m going to get slammed for this (and I probably deserve it). However speaking as a man and being used to hearing ; a man was seen talking to…, offering… to a child, ect. I’m actually glad to hear that a woman started the latest media freak-out about child safety.
    All the child “safety experts” tell children that are lost to find a female because men are dangerous. Maybe now that other groups of people are being dragged into this madness, people will begin to calm down and start putting things into perspective.

  35. marie February 11, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Maybe now that other groups of people are being dragged into this madness, people will begin to calm down and start putting things into perspective.

    Oh, c’mon, Andy! What’s the fun in that? It is so much more delicious to imagine all the horrifying things that might have happened.

    Anybody remember And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street? Today’s version would start off with a middle-aged woman offering the kid a ride and the rest of the book would be full of kidnapping and sexual assault and white slavery.

    Goodness. I get all vaporish when I think of it.

  36. Warren February 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    This just in woman arrested for picking up her grandkids, at the bus stop. On the way back from the hair salon, on a day with below zero temperatures, she picked up her grandkids, to drive them home. No one recognized the woman, because of her new hair colour, and immediately called the police.

    The grandmother was arrested and charged with purposely trying to disguise her appearance, while in the company of minors. She was released on bail, awaiting her day in court.

  37. pentamom February 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm #


    When asked by the reporter why the police objected to the woman picking up the children on a cold day, the officer replied, “The children were wearing coats and it was not dangerously cold. We do not want to foster a society in which people help one another out if they are not convinced the other people are in immediate mortal danger. You never know where that could lead.”

  38. a-non-e-mouse February 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    Normally, I agree with you, but in this case, I think you’re all wet. This is EXACTLY the kind of behavior we SHOULD be making our children think is a possible danger. This isn’t meeting a stranger in the park and riding bikes with them, or even unsupervised play. This is a complete stranger, in their car, asking children to get in. I let my eight-year old wander freely; he walks our dog; if it’s sunny out, he’s outside playing unsupervised. But this is one of the cardinal rules we have, not to go into stranger’s cars or houses. He has enough friends in the neighborhood if he needs help.

  39. pentamom February 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    a-non: I don’t think anyone’s objected to the idea that the kids didn’t accept rides.

    It’s treating this case as though this woman definitely is dangerous, with no actual evidence that she committed, or intended to commit, any crime, that’s objectionable.

    It’s great to teach your kids never to accept rides from strangers (except in dire emergencies), but it’s wrong to make this woman a pariah and have the police after her.

    We don’t have to teach our kids to “think” the worst, in able to teach them safe practices. I think that’s where the disconnect is here. We seem to think that in order to teach kids never to accept rides from strangers, we must believe, and teach ourselves to believe, that only predators offer rides. (Kind of like the person referenced a couple of posts back who told her child that he couldn’t go to the men’s room alone because someone “WOULD” take him.) That’s not the case. You can give your kids safety rules without having to believe that everything to practice safety about is actually as dangerous as it might be — and that everyone whose behavior causes those rules to be invoked IS a criminal.

  40. Warren February 11, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    It still amazes me that some people just cannot accept the fact that this woman may know the kid.

  41. Neige February 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    I do think this is a ridiculous story, but as a former Montrealer I’d like to provide some historical context that other posters may not be aware of.

    The first thing that crossed my mind, even years later, was that the woman sounded like Karla Homolka, a Canadian serial killer. I was living in Montreal when she was released and went to settle there, under a new identity, and as young female university students we were all told to be on high alert for females matching that description offering us rides, etc. Although it’s believed she no longer lives in the country, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cultural memory of those years she was living in Montreal hadn’t contributed to the paranoia/hype of the story.

  42. Warren February 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    As someone who lives near where Carla was imprisoned, I am well aware of the history.
    If the community is acting on that history, they all need to get some help. That was a long time ago, and not even the same MO.
    This is nothing more than overprotective and over sensitive meeting and coming up with “OMG a predator!”

    People have got to stop being paranoid, period. Common sense has to eventually win out, doesn’t it?

  43. amy February 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

    @Warren Maybe now would be a good time for her to contact the parents and let them know who she is. She could ease their fears. If she’s a friend. Betcha she hasn’t. To which you’ll reply, perhaps, that she’s afraid of prosecution. Maybe.

    @pentamom I’m just saying that they were likely dressed for the weather.

    On the one hand, we’re cheering on the concept of Free Range Kids; on the other hand, we’re talking about how they shouldn’t be standing out in the cold. That jumping in a car with a complete stranger is okay because most people have good motives. AND that good motives sometimes involve scaring the crap out of kids. She knowingly put them in a very uncomfortable position, no matter how well meaning she was.

  44. Warren February 11, 2013 at 9:57 pm #


    Why do you have such a hate on for this woman? Anyway, if she knew the parents she probably would contact them. Here are two very likely scenarios.
    1. I know alot of kids, but do not know their last names, or their parents, or their phone number. And after this story, and the assumptions that people have made, I wouldn’t want to get seen asking kids for their last names, parents names and phone numbers if they turned down the ride. I would be hung by a mob.
    2. She has contacted them, and like so many other happy endings, it is not news worthy.

  45. amy February 11, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    @Warren So sorry if I sound hateful! I’m just trying to explain my position. I’m trying to understand hers and yours as well. To me it’s so obvious that her behavior was inappropriate. You feel the opposite. So we are starting with different assumptions, and forming opinions based on those. I’m not assuming she was trying to snatch a child. I am assuming that she should have known her decision to offer a ride to a child WHO DID NOT KNOW HER was ill-founded. From there, I determined that either her judgement was not sound OR her motives, impure. When I was a (free-range) kid, a man offered me a ride and it scared the daylights out of me. But my parents didn’t alert anyone, just told me I’d made the right decision not to go with him. This was a town of 900 or so and maybe he did know me, but the point is that I was so so frightened.

  46. Warren February 12, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    Thank you for adding in your childhood experience, it helps to explain.

    What I am getting at, is that one cannot automatically assume anything, or determine anything. As I have stated before, I know alot of kids, from various things. I will recognize many of them, but you are running a fifty fifty shot at whether they remember you, or recognize you as a classmates parent, or a teammates parent. Yes they have seen you, and even met you. That is no guarantee, that a month from now they will instantly recognize you, even more so sitting in your car, dressed for winter, and so on.
    Does this mean we should just drive by, and say to hell with the kid, and basically say to hell with being nice, or courteous?
    Good natured people should not have to stop doing nice things, for other people just to avoid looking like a criminal.
    If society comes to the point where I have to think about how it appears to stop and help someone, then at that time I will call it quits. I will sell everything and we will move up north, off the grid, and other than family, no contact with society.

  47. Donna February 12, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    @amy – I hope to raise a child who is not terrified if some person she doesn’t know offers her a ride. I don’t want her to get in the car but if she is “so so frightened” by the mere offer, I will consider that a failure as a parent. And I don’t think you need your kids to be terrified to not get into the car. I was offered rides several times as a teen. I was never afraid. I said “no” and the person moved on. No fear. No terror.

    So I don’t think it is a fair assumption that these children were definitely frightened by this just because you were. They may have been. They may not have been. They clearly told their parents who were frightened but that could have been in casual conversation and not a fearful call.

  48. Donna February 12, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    You also have to remember that different cultures do things differently. In A. Samoa, giving rides to strangers is extremely common. I can’t walk anywhere without being offered a ride. I have both accepted rides from and given rides to strangers. One of the high schools on the island is a long walk from a regular bus stop. The kids at that school stand outside at the end of the day and beg rides. Twice last month while borrowing a friend’s pickup, I let as many teenage boys who would fit in the bed pile in and drove them to the bus stop. I was not investigated by the police.

    Most places are not A. Samoa, but maybe this woman is from someplace where rides are frequently solicited and offered. She may have neither poor judgment or bad motives. She may just be from another culture.

    Or as Warren said she may know the kids who simply didn’t recognize her. Kids, who can pick another kid they met once out of a large group, don’t pay much attention to adults. It makes perfect sense that an adult would recognize a child but a child not recognize the adult.

    Or maybe she was crazy. Or maybe she was bad. I just don’t think we should be treating someone as the last thing must be true without knowing anything other than a woman stopped and offered 2 kids rides.

  49. hineata February 12, 2013 at 4:17 am #

    Amen Donna. Different cultures do do things differently. When I was growing up it was very common to offer lifts to strangers, and seldom did anything bad happen, Even now it is still not unheard of, especially if the weather is bad. I ‘picked up’ a guy outside the video store a while back, because the rain was sleeting down, he didn’t have a coat, and he was obviously a foreigner. We did the same thing to a very elderly man outside the supermarket. The kids thought it was hilarious, but they enjoyed talking to both these guys. Turned out the old fella was an actor from way back. Very interesting man.

  50. hineata February 12, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    And a ‘stranger’ dropped me off outside my house twice today. Very grateful I was to them both, too.

    Actually both times were bus drivers.I am still learning to use my foot again after having it in plaster for two months, and they both made the point of dropping me outside my house rather than the bus stop further along the road. Which is technically illegal here but very nice and neighbourly. One knew where my house was ( he often drives the girls, and has been known to stop for them if they’re charging out the house late). The other made a point of asking.

    Oh my gosh, maybe they were really casing my house.


    The world really is, more often than not, a friendly place. Maybe we should celebrate that more often, rather than look for shady motives every time someone tries to do something nice.

  51. Warren February 12, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    The first day of highschool my oldest girl ended up on the wrong bus, at the end of the day. New school and horror of horrors, we had just moved to town a couple of weeks ago.

    Not making the best initial choice, she got off the bus at a stop, without telling the driver what went on. She tried to get her bearings, and finally just walked up to a farm house and asked to use their phone. The farmer called and said not to worry he was bringing her home.
    She got home in minutes, with a quart of gresh strawberries.

  52. Warren February 12, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Gresh? what the…..meant fresh.

  53. pentamom February 12, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    “On the one hand, we’re cheering on the concept of Free Range Kids; on the other hand, we’re talking about how they shouldn’t be standing out in the cold.”

    Nope. No one’s saying they “shouldn’t be standing out in the cold.” What I’m saying is, if a child (or adult) is standing out in the cold, it is a *nice thing to do* to offer them a ride (depending on the situation.) That’s what you seem to be missing. There is no disconnect between teaching children to handle life on their own, and giving/accepting offers of help because helping people is a nice thing to do.

    Not because they “need” it. Not because they “can’t handle it.”

    Because it’s nice to offer help even to people who could tough through life without it, and like most people I’d rather be in a warm car than standing in the cold, so it might occur to someone else (like this woman) that it’s a nice thing to do.

    I really don’t like the idea of teaching people to think, “Hey, well, they can handle it without me, so I won’t offer help even though I feel like doing it and they’d probably appreciate it.” That sounds like a stingy approach to kindness. Offers of kindness should not be contingent on an assessment of whether the person could “survive” without it, but on whether it appears that it would be more helpful than not.

  54. hineata February 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Yes, Pentamom, yes! What happened to just being nice?

  55. Warren February 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    What hap? No one trusts anyone anymore. If you do something nice, they want to know your motives. Nice huh?

  56. pentamom February 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    “That jumping in a car with a complete stranger is okay because most people have good motives. ”

    I didn’t see anyone say that at all. I didn’t even say this woman had good motives. I’m just saying there’s no reason to assume she didn’t.

    Not jumping into a car with someone you don’t know — good rule to follow. You never know who does, and who does not, have good motives.

    Assuming that there couldn’t possibly be a good motive behind someone offering a ride — unnecessary and unfair.

  57. Kay February 14, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    Well I don’t know. This article implies that if it were a man, it would have been scary. And aren’t we all tired of men being made into predators?

    I just teach my kids to not get in a car with strangers, period, without analyzing this woman’s motives, good intentioned or not.

  58. SJ February 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    I have a Free Range idea. How about we let kids wait at bus stops in the cold or rain or even walk to school in those conditions rather than assume that is a big hardship and that they need a busybody adult to give the a warm, comfortable ride in a car so they don’t have to suffer the bad weather for a few minutes?

  59. Warren February 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm #


    Would it not be more free range to allow people to do neighbourly things, while not assuming that everyone out there is a pervert, rapist, child molesting predator?

    I wonder how many redheads were followed into parking lots, in order to see if they were driving the vehicle in question? Nice sense of community.

  60. SJ February 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm #


    Sure. I am not suggesting that the police and the news need to be called every time someone offers a kid a ride, especially since the kids in this story clearly handled themselves well and chose not to get in a car with a complete stranger. But if we assume the woman was just trying to be helpful, I would at a minimum consider her to be a busybody non-free ranger of the highest sort. I also don’t understand what is particularly helpful about offering a ride to kids when they are already standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus that is going to take them to exactly where they need to go. It seems to me that there is a pervasive belief, at least in the US, that walking somewhere or waiting for a bus, especially in the cold weather, is some sort of hardship from which kids need to be rescued. Kids are capable of being in cold weather or walking somewhere without needing to be coddled and it can often be quite fun for them to do things independently, at least when there are no busybodies around trying to ‘help’ them.

  61. Warren February 16, 2013 at 1:56 am #


    So no matter what, no matter what the circumstances, the motives, the enviroment, 100% of the time, this woman is WRONG. She is either a busybody that should mind her own business or a predator tying to snatch kids?

  62. SJ February 16, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    @ Warren

    That’s my opinion of this incident with the little information we have about it and based on what I would think if someone tried to pick my kids up at their bus stop instead of leaving them to wait for their bus. I am sure that there are plenty of people who disagree with me. And if there were actually some information about why this woman offered the girl a ride, that could always change my mind, but that information isn’t available, so all we can do is speculate.


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