“We Did Everything Right in Our Seemingly Safe Neighborhood and Yet, It Happened”

 

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This piece by Christine Burke on ScaryMommy is about how we interpret the world. Or at least that’s how I interpret it. It begins:

We did everything “right,” and yet, it still happened.

We moved to a neighborhood with thoughtful neighbors and wide, safe streets.

We enrolled our kids in a school district known not only for its exemplary teachers but also for its low violence and drug statistics.

Our kids know how to dial 9-1-1 and they know how to call a neighbor for help if we aren’t home.

Stranger Danger. Scream, kick, and yell for help if someone grabs you. If you’re lost, find a mom — she’ll help you. All of these tenets were drilled into our kids’ heads from an early age.

Like I said, we did everything right. We did what the experts said to do to keep our kids safe, but all of that couldn’t protect our daughter from being approached by a potential predator while she was on a walk with our dog in our seemingly safe, tree-lined neighborhood. And, while we came to learn that stranger abductions make up a small percentage of child abductions, the threat does exist and what happened to us was a wake-up call for our family.

(Does it sound like this family needed more “waking up?”)

On a recent summer morning, I was, as usual, distracted by the details of our summer chaos. In between juggling work assignments, I was in the midst of orchestrating camp drop-offs, playdates, and my need to squeeze in a much-needed exercise class. My 11-year-old daughter had slept in, immune to my scheduling chaos, and was annoyed that I wanted her to bring a book and accompany me to the gym.

“Can’t I just stay here?” she asked. “The dog needs a walk anyway. Pleeeease?” Because I was harried and behind schedule, her request seemed like the path of least resistance, so I relented. We reviewed where I’d be and how to reach my cell phone. As I hurriedly pulled away from our driveway with our son in the front seat, I caught an image of her skipping down the road, our dog trotting next to her in the summer sun.

I’ll only be gone an hour. She’ll be fine. My neighbors are home.

But she wasn’t fine.

No?

While she was on her walk, a simple half-mile loop at the end of our street that we’ve walked hundreds of times, a strange man slowly drove by and came to a stop. He rolled down his window and started asking her questions. He asked about our dog (“What’s her name?” “What kind of dog is she?” “How old is she?”) and probed for personal details about our daughter (“What’s your name?” “How old are you?”).

My daughter, afraid of appearing rude, answered his questions even though warning bells were going off in her head. He continued to talk to her, almost as if he was trying to stall her, and she grew uncomfortable and scared. She didn’t know this man, had never seen him in our neighborhood, and had the good sense not to get near his car. Thankfully, she decided to run home, and he decided to drive away. Somehow, by the grace of God, she made it home safely.

No thanks to me, of course.

What interests me is the idea that her daughter “wasn’t fine.”

She encountered a stranger, they spoke, she decided she didn’t want to stick around, so she didn’t.

A child could encounter ME and I’d be a “potential predator.” We’re all potential everything — saints, circus clowns, excellent melon-choosers. (Actually, that’s me.) Our society seems to be giving “potential” a lot more weight than it’s worth.

The piece continues with the mom reporting the “incident” to the police and listing the “valuable lessons” she learned, a few of which I actually do find valuable:

*If a stranger approaches by car, stay out of arm’s reach.

*Being rude could save their lives.

The other lessons strike me as unnecessary and even crippling, including, “No matter how safe you think you are, you should never, ever let your guard down. EVER.”

It’s good to be aware of your surroundings. But re-writing everyday life as the climactic scene of an action movie seems exhausting and alarming. So does self-flagellation for letting an 11-year-old walk the dog. For me a lesson from this “incident” would be that my daughter feels she’s ready for some independence, and she has proven herself worthy of it. – L

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Mom regrets letting daughter walk dog...even though the daughter was fine.

What age can a child walk the dog? 

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91 Responses to “We Did Everything Right in Our Seemingly Safe Neighborhood and Yet, It Happened”

  1. Scott September 15, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    “a lesson from this “incident” would be that my daughter feels she’s ready for some independence, and she has proven herself worthy of it.”

    Amen!

  2. Kay September 15, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    If this guy was a potential anything, I’d guess he was a potential “good Samaritan” who was contemplating calling the police to report this poor, neglected child out on the street all alone.

  3. pentamom September 15, 2016 at 11:14 am #

    That very likely was a real incident with someone up to no good. It’s hard to come up with a plausible scenario for a guy pulling up to a kid in a car and asking random questions.

    But she handled it exactly right, and what happened was, the preparation that they did for her worked, not that it didn’t work.

  4. Meg September 15, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    This reminds me of a time I took a friend’s son skiing. His mother asked me about his day, and I said everything was fine. Later she freaked out because she discovered he had a minor collision with another skier. It wasn’t his fault, no one was hurt, he handled it well. So I promptly forgot about it. To her it was a major issue.

    Learning how to negotiate the world is only done by actually doing it.

  5. Meg September 15, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    “If this guy was a potential anything, I’d guess he was a potential “good Samaritan” who was contemplating calling the police to report this poor, neglected child out on the street all alone.”

    Yep. He was probably trying to get info out of the kid so he could report the parents to the police for having an unattended child. LOL

  6. Usually Lurking September 15, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    He might have been wanting to offer her a teddy bear.

    Seriously, I agree with the lesson learned – daughter has demonstrated she’s ready for some independence.

    The summer I was 13, I rode the bus from my home in downtown Orlando to the church where I did volunteer work. I remember a creepy guy trying to engage me in conversation while I waited for the bus one day; I just refused to engage in conversation. No harm done. I was just fine.

  7. Rachel September 15, 2016 at 11:30 am #

    Pitch-perfect interpretation and I do think the mom should thank herself – for teaching her child to be strong, capable and independent.

  8. lollipoplover September 15, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    “That very likely was a real incident with someone up to no good. It’s hard to come up with a plausible scenario for a guy pulling up to a kid in a car and asking random questions.”

    It’s not hard. Maybe the man has the same breed of dog. Perhaps it’s a unique dog and he’s a dog lover and curious. Or a grandfather with granddaughters of similar age….
    It doesn’t make him a monster just because he spoke to an 11 year-old kid walking a dog.

    Among dog people(I count myself as one), it’s not uncommon to initiate random conversations about our dogs. Dog lovers are pretty friendly people. We walk a power line trail every weekend and my children routinely speak to random strangers about dogs, mostly fellow dog walkers. I’ve had people in cars stop me to ask me about my dogs. So no, it’s not hard to see an innocent encounter actually happening and being dissected by a paranoid mom who spends too much time on Facebook.

    How this is “IT HAPPENED” when nothing actually happened makes the anxiety-dripping tone of this article hard to stomach. What should have been a “You did a good job” to a kid learning independence turns into:
    “Thankfully, she decided to run home, and he decided to drive away. Somehow, by the grace of God, she made it home safely.”

  9. John B. September 15, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    Personally, if I saw a young girl or boy I didn’t know walking their cute little dog, I would NEVER stop my car to ask the kid questions about the dog or whatever. Perhaps if I were walking past them on the sidewalk I might make a comment to them about their cute little dog but stopping my car to do so? Don’t think so. But neither would I do that if it were an adult woman walking the dog.

    Regardless, as strange as it sounds, this doesn’t mean the guy had carnal intentions for the little girl. He could be just a very sociable person. Some people manage to get into conversations ANYWHERE, ANYPLACE and with ANYBODY. My father was a very sociable person and would somehow get into conversations with a stranger in a public restroom while standing at the urinal! “Awesome game the Packers played on Sunday! They just gotta shore up their running game!” etc., etc.

    What gets me is people ASSUMING this man had evil intentions toward this little girl. Staying out of arm’s reach of a stranger is good advice for this girl but telling her that she just escaped torture and dismemberment would be presumptuous and irresponsible. We certainly don’t know that. I would praise her for not approaching the man and trusting her gut instincts BUT I would also emphasize to her that the man very well could have been OK but just a talkative guy. Otherwise you scare kids into believing that any adult they don’t know who merely talks to them is fixing to rape their soul and leave them for dead. This gives the child a false perspective of the world.

  10. Mary September 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    I think this girl needed R.A.D.D. Training. She got away but this stranger was clearly up to no good- and yet her worry about being rude is what she needs training for.
    http://rad-systems.com/
    RAD training ( endorsed by Elizabeth Smart abduction survivor) teaches kids that a stranger may save their life- but how to determine which stranger that would be is vitally important as well. RAD helps kids determine that quickly with no worry about being “rude,” rather than worry about being “rude,” this empowers kids to be RADICAL- and safe. Check it out!

  11. JulieH September 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    Seems to me like the girl handled it well. Most importantly, she trusted her gut and acted on it – which was to leave the situation and return directly home.

    My 11 year old had a friend spend the night this summer. They went for a walk downtown (about a mile from the house) in our also “very safe community” to window shop. At one point their guts told them that they were being followed from shop to shop by a gentleman that was not familiar to my daughter. Once they had this gut feeling, they entered one of the shops where my daughter is particularly friendly with the owner and staff and hung out there. When the guy didn’t follow them down that street, they waited awhile, called to let me know that they were walking straight home and why, and headed back home.

    It is possible that he was following them with malicious intent (highly unlikely). It was possible he was concerned and thought he was being kind by keeping an eye on them “without them knowing it” – and didn’t do as good a job as he thought. It is possible that he is the guy with the brother from Florida who drives up fresh oranges a few times a year – before he has a fresh shipment, he checks in with the business owners who have purchased before so that he can judge the amount to have brought up – and it was purely coincidence. It could have been completely imagined.

  12. Nicole September 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    I really don’t like that website, and usually the comments drive me crazy, but I am thrilled to see nearly a quarter, maybe even half the comments I read are more along the lines of your reaction than the OMG you are so right what a near-miss scary thing.

  13. fred schueler September 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    A free range girl would have asked him why he was asking her these questions, so she’s have had some information on which to base her judgement of his creepiness . I remember a time about 15 years ago when there was a flap about some guy doing something to a girl in a mall – and imaginging how the three young ladies I called, at the time, the Free Range Girls would have reacted, and what the guy would have looked like with a strip torn off of him.

  14. Mary September 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    You people are ridiculous. The “puppy dog”‘intro is commonly used by preditors. As is the candy lure.
    Any child being approached by a passing vehicle should get away. Normal People do not strike up conversations from their cars – and not everyone in the world works a 9-5 job but guess what? MOST DO!!!!
    A 60+ man in upscale Cos Cob, CT, an employee at a local restaurant, had a few friendly conversations with a 25 year old girl several times on her way home from school. They were becoming acquainted and on one of those ocaissions he offered her drugs and a modeling contract. He wanted her to go to his home in White Plains , NY.
    This was where she decided he may not be such a good friend and she refused and told her mom.
    Police arrested this pets who had a long history as a sex offender.

  15. fred schueler September 15, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    …also, how did the Dog react to the tone of the questions? I’ve never had a Dog that wasn’t a pretty good judge of creepiness.

  16. Mary September 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Typo in my above post- the girl was 15 , not 25

  17. Becks September 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    This story did not go as I expected at the start. I thought something bad would actually happen!

    This could have happened if the mum was home and the girl did the right thing.

    She’s had the chance to put her lessons into practice and aced it!

  18. david zaitzeff September 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    They did most things right and “it” did not happen. 1) They had mostly trained the girl well enough to recognize and avoid potential danger. 2) The girl would probably benefit by visiting the local martial arts or karate studio for a few months or years. 3) Every one of us needs to be emotionally aware of the possibility of our dying. There are drunk drivers and there are terrorists like the guys at Orlando or Paris or Nice, France. A person can do everything right and still be killed or wounded in Paris France or while running in a marathon.

    It is a fact of life.

    When we teach a kid to drive a car, we teach the kid to be aware that some other drivers are idiots and we need to avoid them to avoid a collision. Some drivers go through red lights and some go through stop signs and some change lanes suddenly and without signaling. OK, 15 year olds need to learn this to drive.

    kids at age 10 and 11 and 12 start to go and do things on their own. We just teach them to be aware of and stay aware from some dangers!

  19. Catherine Caldwell-Harris September 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    On the theme of kids making the right decision and strangers helping, a quick few sentences from what happened to my 6 yo last night:

    Me and my twin 6 yo boys attended their school picnic, scheduled for 6 – 7:30. The sun had set, it was sometime after 7, I was trying to round the kids up to go to the car, they ignored me, whatever, having fun playing on the playground chasing a dog, people still around. One twin took me into the school bldg (we had been in and out of it all evening), started showing me around, meaning other twin is out on the playground with all the people (although crowd was thinning now). Maybe 10-12 min had passed while the twin relished taking me around his nighttime nearly empty school building.

    I insisted we cut the tour short, but when we returned to the playground it was empty, about 7:40pm, and darkness had suddenly fallen. It was night time. Dark. The other twin was no where to be seen. We called his name, no one was around. We went backthru the bldg. We went to the car. There he was, clinging to the side of the car, near tears. Three people out walking their dogs had stopped to keep him company. The adults didn’t seem overly concerned, just said they were sticking by him until him Mom got there. I commended the ‘lost’ twin for being brave and showing such good sense as to go to the car. He extracted his demand (get to watch the ipad when we got home rather than straight to bed) and all was well.

    A child survived a brief separation at night, no police called, the strangers that helped didn’t even lecture me (relief). I’m not going to dwell on what could have happened because statistics are *nothing bad was going to happen.* Instead, make a plan for leaving events together and designate a meeting place inside the event bldg.

  20. Anna September 15, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    Just a sidenote: “wide, safe streets” tells you that this mom, in her anxiety about abduction, is actually not very attuned to the much more realistic danger of car accidents. Wide streets are not safe – they make drivers unconsciously speed through the neighborhood, because they feel like highways. (I know – I live on one!)

  21. Coasterfreak September 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    I just read the whole “terrifying” article. It boggles my mind that she is not patting herself on the back for doing everything “right” and raising a daughter who was able to take care of herself when approached by someone she didn’t know, and is instead flogging herself for taking her eyes off her daughter for an instant. It must be exhausting to have the need to be that vigilant.

    But instead of learning that she did a great job teaching her kid how to handle herself, she has instead learned that her kid should always have a cell phone so that 911 can be called immediately if anybody dares to speak to her, that a kid can never hold information that an adult might need, that she should have taught her kid to be rude instead of polite, and that she needs to be even MORE hyper-vigilant.

    Personally, I think the kid could have been more unaware of her surroundings if she had a phone to play with while walking. How many times have you seen people walking along, staring at their phones, completely oblivious to their surroundings? Seems to me it would be easier to snatch a kid who is staring at a screen. (uh-oh, did I just reopen the Pokemon Go paranoia can of worms?)

    I think the world already has enough rude kids, and the polite ones should be applauded.

    And I think that it’s completely wrong that a kid could never have information that an adult needs. I know that this particular situation wouldn’t apply nowadays, since everybody has GPS on their phones, but 25 years ago I was hopelessly lost driving around a neighborhood in a section of town I was unfamiliar with. I saw two kids on the sidewalk (guessing aged around 11-13) and I pulled to a stop, rolled down the window, and asked if they knew how to get back to a particular road. They did, and a few minutes later I was un-lost. If they had been taught to never talk to strangers, I might STILL be lost! LOL

    Seems to me the author of this article was under the impression that teaching your kids personal safety means that potential predators will somehow be repelled and never approach them, and not that it means you’ve given your kid the tools needed to take care of themselves in the event that they are approached. So of course this “incident” has terrified her and made her think she somehow caused this to happen by letting her daughter out of her sight. What a miserable way to live.

  22. Reziac September 15, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    A couple years ago I had a similar conversation with someone in a parking lot. Nope, she mistook me and my dog for someone else. But turned out she was the daughter-in-law of someone I’d known 40 years previous. The horror!

    The lesson here is: this kid is savvy enough to be responsible for her own safety, regardless of her age.

  23. Gina September 15, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    John B. and Lollipopover:

    I, too, will stop to admire a dog…especially if it is particularly large or an unusual breed.

  24. Jason September 15, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    Could it be that the “potential predator” started asking questions because he saw a child alone and was overly concerned for her safety. Maybe he was thinking “Why is this young child walking alone on the street?” That’ll teach him to be concerned with another person’s child again.

    Sad state where it has become against the law for a man to talk to a child.

  25. mer September 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    Dog people are weird, including me. If we’re out and see someone with the same breed we’ll stop and chat for a few minutes. I’ve been known to actually stop the car and go talk to them and had people do the same to me.

    I guess that makes me a potential predator, no? Or just someone that loves dogs and seeing an unusual one I need more info (being able to tell the difference between a Belgian Tevuren and a GSD makes the Belgian’s owner very happy)

    Teach the kids how to recognize “something doesn’t feel right” and get out of the situation. Also that “Nunya” is an acceptable answer to strangers asking questions they don’t want to answer (Nun ya business).

  26. bmommyx2 September 15, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    Wow. Maybe the lesson should be to teach her kids to trust their instincts. You can smile & say hello without giving out personal information & keep a distance. Her judgement of danger might just be her perception & be totally inaccurate since she was not there & her daughter might see danger where it doesn’t exist since that is what she has been taught. Maybe they were a horrible predator or maybe they were just checking to see that she was OK? We live on a cul-de-sac & my son has a friend two streets over. The short way to his house is to walk on the outside of our tract down the main street rather than inside the long way around each block. The boys used to take the short way back & forth to our houses until the other boy told his dad a stranger approached & now he has been instructed to take the long way. When his dad told me of the “incident” I was not overly concerned & my when I asked I got a less scary version of a car slowing down & asking their age or something like that. My perception based on observation is that grown ups are not used to seeing children playing unsupervised & when the see what appears like a young child or children alone it send up read flags & they go into protective / investigative mode & that is the reason for the questions. Our boys are on the small side & look several years younger than they are so when your 8 yr old looks like a 5 or 6 yrs old & they are wandering alone people worry & want to make sure they are OK. I’m not saying danger doesn’t happen & there are not creeps among us, but I give my children the tools & permission to act accordingly.

  27. lollipoplover September 15, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

    Anyone been following the clown case down South?

    http://jezebel.com/two-people-arrested-for-making-hoax-911-call-claiming-c-1786665937

    I’m truly surprised this girl’s encounter didn’t involve a white van! Even without conversations we all know drivers of white vans can never ever ever even look at children. Too tempting…

  28. Yocheved September 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    When my daughter was 7, she was approached by a man in a car, who wanted directions. She stayed far away on the sidewalk and said politely “I don’t know. Let me go get my mom.” She ran home and told me about “the creepy guy”, and by the time I stuck my head out the door the car was just driving away.

    We didn’t freak out and call it it a “near tragedy”, we called it a VICTORY for common sense and good training. Kiddo got lots of praise, and to this day she remembers how calm she was, and what a good job she did when she was all alone outside.

  29. lollipoplover September 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    @Gina and mer-

    I truly believe that the average dog is a nicer person than the average person. I also trust my dog pack and their judge of character sometimes over my own brain, especially with wacky stories like this one where nothing actually happened, but we are told to never let our guard down, *translation* never talk to anyone else or very bad things will happen to you, and anxiety and mistrust are more prevalent than basic human decency.

    A man (no dog) approached me this weekend in the woods with my kids nearby. I could hear him asking the breed of one of the dogs. He came closer and I warned him they were muddy, wet, and stinky from the shallow creek swimming but he didn’t care and told me about his bulldog at home and said her very long name, “Her Confirmation name”. I was cracking up and he poured his water bottle for the dogs out of his hands. Turns out, he knew my sisters and a long conversation ensued. Small world. Dog people are my people. I find them more down-to-earth and laid back than those who need to tell me “They did everything right”.

  30. Juluho September 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    I appauld her daughter for her behavior.
    As a mother, absolutely the knee jerk reaction is fear. But your daughter, who will soon be a woman, handled herself well and stayed safe.

  31. K September 15, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    While I agree with pentamom that the way this guy’s behavior was described doesn’t seem like a natural interaction to me, I also think the mom’s paranoia is nuts. Especially “She wasn’t fine.” She’s totally fine! I remember as a kid – maybe 6 – walking my dog, along, and a truck slowed down to talk to me. He asked me what I was doing, where were my parents, should I be out there alone? It freaked me out a little, because who was this guy to interrogate me? I think I have him short answers and tried to engage as little as possible. Who he was, it turned out, was my parents’ old neighbor Tony, from years ago. He recognized me, I didn’t recognize him, and he was concerned that I was too young to be out alone. (I’d say the dog was there for protection, but she was very much on her last legs at the time.) Even though I had an interaction with a stranger that scared me – I was fine. That’s what happened here, too – even if it WAS an interaction with a stranger who was up to no good.

  32. Mary September 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    Just got this link from our Greenwich Patch: here in upscale Darien, CT , a sex predator/ offender on the run from the law in Idho was arrested with a machete, sleeping in a lovely park woods where kids play. I bet everyone is jut overreacting and this nice man wanted to use his machete for skinning rabbits while he camps in his way toncanada! Of course!!! NOT
    Thank Goodness one of the hysterically overreacting Darien Mom’s alerted police:

    http://patch.com/connecticut/greenwich/s/fvuz5/convicted-child-rapist-captured-in-darien-park-pd?utm_source=alert-breakingnews&utm_medium=email&utm_term=police%20%26%20fire&utm_campaign=alert

  33. Michael Blackwood September 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    The young girl did everything correctly. However, her mom is going to keep her locked in the house now until she is thirty. Nothing bad happened. We can guess, oresume, and opine all we wish but we will never know the man’s intentions. The mother should be terrified of parking lots and business’ driveways. Those are true danger spots. What she encountered might or might not have been but the young girl did the equivalent of “looking both ways.”

  34. EricS September 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    It’s the world. Crap happens when we least expect it. No matter how hard we try to prepare. It’s called life. It’s not about what your children come across (they will come across everything we do, and have, that’s a given), it’s how they respond to the situation. Sounds like this little girl did everything right on her part. And it worked for her. THAT is what matters most. This is one of those jump in the deep end experiences. And she passed with almost flying colors. Not sure if her mother has taught her about divulging personal info. I’ve taught my kids to NOT give personal info. At most, their first name only. They know not to give their last name, their address, or phone number. They also know that most people wouldn’t ask for those info, unless they were police. Police is ok. These are flags they look out for. They are smart kids. I’m actually trying to teach them to “turn the tables”. If they are ever in this girl’s situation, I want them to be able to say, “Why are you asking me all these questions? I don’t know you. You don’t need to know. I’m going to tell my dad”. And then run home. Nothing more surprising than a smart aleck kid, who acts and says things most adults would find “shocking”. To me this is equivalent to a man trying to assault a woman, and the woman fights back. The assailant is caught off guard and bolts. This also serves as great learning opportunity. Where the girl can discuss with the mom. And if the mom can stay collected, and not freak out, they can sort through the positives and negatives, and improve on them. Gives the girl more confidence that she did the right things, as well as the mother realizing that her daughter is aware and understands the things she needs to do.

    And to touch up on the mothers comments about “doing everything right”. Doing everything right doesn’t mean nothing bad will ever happen. That’s not how life works. We can only minimize things. But in putting the false sense of security of moving to a good neighborhood, only enables people to NOT pay attention and keep up due diligence. There isn’t anything wrong with not letting your guard down. But there is a difference between constantly looking over your shoulder “not letting your guard down”, and being mindful of surroundings and not being distracted “not letting your guard down”. Everyone should always be aware of what’s going on around them. If they condition themselves to do this (which includes prioritizing what they pay attention to), it eventually becomes second nature, that even if you were with friends walking and chatting, you can pick up the group of people several meters ahead of you, the on-coming traffic, that dog off it’s leash, all without interrupting your conversation. That is why I always say, teach your kids early. So as they get older, those things become second nature. It’s an automatic thing even among the distractions they will have to deal with.

  35. Emily Bartkowicz September 15, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    Sounds like a non-issue to me and this mommy-writer was looking for blog content…..

  36. Shana September 15, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

    This is so something my dad would do. He has aspergers and us not great at realizing appropriate social behavior at times. As he and my mom are getting on in terms, they’ve been increasingly hiring neighborhood kids to do chores like take leaves, shovel snow, etc. I could absolutely see my dad seeing a new kid in the neighborhood and approaching them to quiz them as a potential hire, totally oblivious to the fact he was making them uncomfortable.

    I also had this happen twice to me as a young teen, a random stranger coming up to me and asking me personal questions. In both incidents, it was a new parent to the neighborhood wanting to find out if I or if any if my friends did babysitting.

  37. Beth September 15, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    @Mary, a guy asking a girl questions about her dog has absolutely nothing to do with a guy sleeping in a park with a machete. The only parallel I’m seeing is “be really really scared of everyone, especially men.”

  38. EricS September 15, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    @Mary: “You people are ridiculous. The “puppy dog”‘intro is commonly used by preditors. As is the candy lure.”

    Lol! Your comment is ridiculous. I chat with kids whenever I get the opportunity. I love interacting with kids, I get a kick out of how smart they can be. And yes, I’ve even asked about their dog (those that have one with them). But not from a car, only because I’d be blocking traffic, and if I’m in a car it means I have to be somewhere. So to stop would take up time. Either way, does that make me a predator? Hmmmm. Can you predict the future, can you read minds? So how do you know this was the case here? It could’ve been. At the same time it could have been some very innocent and non-threatening. You have the “what if” attitude. With that attitude ANYTHING is possible. ANYTHING. Which means even getting out of bed is a dangerous thing to do. Think of all the things that can happen. You hop of the bed and roll your ankle. Sprained ankle. You can slip in the tub and crack your head open taking a shower. You can choke on your breakfast. A plain can drop on your house. Zombies can be outside your house. For real. Ever hear of those face eaters in the news? You getting the point? lol

    The point of this situation with the girl, is that she did what she was taught to do, and she’s ok. Now she can build on that experience, and improve her street smart skills. Just like in sports, you can’t get better without faltering. If you don’t know your limit, you never learn to get passed them. Teach your kids to be successful adults. Start them young. Trust me. They will ALWAYS surprise you. ALWAYS. For some parents it’s not a surprise, because they know their kids and what they’re capable of. But it is still amazing to watch them evolve before your eyes. And sometimes, they even go beyond expectations.

  39. James Pollock September 15, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    “That very likely was a real incident with someone up to no good”

    ” this stranger was clearly up to no good”

    “You people are ridiculous. The “puppy dog”‘intro is commonly used by preditors. As is the candy lure.
    Any child being approached by a passing vehicle should get away. Normal People do not strike up conversations from their cars”

    Yup. That’s one count of “talking to a child while male”. Book him.

  40. theresa September 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    I notice that a lot of folks here are going the nothing happen and nothing might happen idea. But the fact is we have instincts to help us to stay safe. I know there no 100% odds of always being safe but we can use the good sense life gave us. Lets hope this guy was a good one and the child bad feeling was wrong but better safe than stupidly sorry.

  41. Alanna September 15, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    My first thought was that the man might have been interested in her dog just because he could have been a dog person. Strangers frequently talk to me because my dog is just so darn cute.

  42. Ater September 15, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

    It’s weird, children are taught now that grown ups would never ask a kid for directions, but as a grown up I was never taught that you should never ask a kid for directions. It wasn’t until I learned about the stranger danger I was supposed to have been teaching my kids that I realized it.

    Maybe it’s a common sense thing that I never picked up on, but if I saw some preteens outside and needed directions, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask them. I guess that makes me a predator.

  43. Jason (The) September 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    I commented here re this post when it was referenced several days ago. As I basically said then, yes, this girl did the right thing and there’s no reason to freak out or for the mom’s “self-flagellation” lol!

    However, it’a not normal for people in cars to pull over to talk to pedestrians they don’t know unless it is for a specific purpose, such as ask for directions, or MAYBE to comment on a particularly unusual dog. This is the case regardless of the ages and genders of the parties, and to claim otherwise is either naïve or dishonest. It is correct to be suspicious of this guy’s motives, and absurd to dismiss his actions as commonplace.

  44. SteveS September 15, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    While it impossible to determine if this guy was up to no good or completely fine, none of us were there. Regardless of how we think she should act, this kid was in a better position to make a decision and there may have been other factors in her coming to her decision.

  45. James Pollock September 15, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

    ” It is correct to be suspicious of this guy’s motives, and absurd to dismiss his actions as commonplace.”

    You speak with great conviction, considering that you were not there and did not witness any of the actions in question.

  46. Beth2 September 15, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

    I find some of these posts and comments to be silly and bizarre.
    If these so-called unwritten “rules” about not talking to kids or asking kids for directions had been in place 30 years ago, my own sweet mom would have been locked up.

    My mom was wonderful, but she was an odd duck, and she did not have a high “Social IQ”, I guess you could say. My parents didn’t like our school district, and wanted to move to a better one. But in the 1980s, how could you get good info on what schools specific were really better than others, particularly for cultivating the interests of a quirky, shy “gifted kid”?

    So my mother’s solution was this: Drive through a neighborhood we particularly liked, with me being carted along in the back seat, roll down the windows and ask random groups of school-aged children: “How are the schools here??” To which they would stare at my mother, confused, and point in the direction of the school and say, “The school’s that way,” thinking she’d asked for directions. “No, no! How ARE they? What’s the QUALITY of the school??” And then they’d kind of go, “hunh?” and shrug and keep walking, or stand in confused silence, until my mom would say, “Never mind” and drive off. This must’ve happened 3 or 4 times.

    Was my mom “normal”? As a very embarrassed pre-teen, I would have said “Heck no!!!” Was she a dangerous predator? Absolutely not!

  47. Claudia September 15, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    When I was 13, and had already been walking around my neighbourhood park alone for about 5 years, I walked into a very quiet and empty local park where I cam across a naked man lying in the grass. He asked me the time – I kind of froze, and told him, he then said ‘Could you come over here please?’, I turned and walked away, and when out of sight, I ran home and called the police.

    I was mostly glad that it was me who encountered him and not some of the younger children playing in the road by the park entrance, there was little doubt he was up to no good – he was gone when the police got there.

    This was also a safe neighbourhood. Was it a reason not to let me or any child out? No.

    I managed the situation and I was not mentally scarred for life!

  48. Jason (The) September 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    “You speak with great conviction, considering that you were not there and did not witness any of the actions in question.”

    Yep. I don’t have to have been present, nor does this event even have to be real, for me to regard the driver’s actions – as described – as unusual.

    Since I can’t be sure of what really happened, nor what the driver was thinking, I’m absolutely positive that I won’t draw any firm conclusion one way or the other, but instead I’ll remain open to the definite possibility that the driver posed a threat to the girl.

  49. pentamom September 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    lollipoplover, normally, I’d take the same line, but….

    If they were both out walking dogs and they crossed paths and the man started talking, there’s nothing there.

    But driving along and pulling up beside her? That’s just not a normal way to strike up a conversation. How often do people actually pause in their driving to talk to unknown passersby just to shoot the breeze? I’m not going to absolutely say he was up to no good. But I do think it is a reasonable evaluation that it is more likely that he was, than that he wasn’t. I’m not suggesting we send the police out after him, I’m just saying it’s not an unreasonable assessment that something was not right.

    As I said, she handled it right. So it still amounts to, “Your neighborhood is safe enough and your child has learned to be safe” rather than, “It’s hopeless! No matter what we do, our kids are not safe!”

  50. pentamom September 15, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    James, apparently I’m guilty of “not assuming a situation absolutely must have been harmless while being on FRK” so now you have to get the put-words-in-people’s-mouths police after me.

    Absolutely we shouldn’t send the cops after people of whom we have no actual indications of wrong-doing. But I can sit here and say that pulling off the road to persistently talk to a child without having an evident end in view is sufficiently unusual to me that it makes me suspicious, without assuming that “talking to children while male” is always nefarious. Since my suspicions here aren’t going to get back to that guy or result in any action against him, I don’t think I have to prove that all men talking to kids are a threat to think that there’s a good chance this guy was.

  51. Carrie September 15, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    Sounds to me like she taught her daughter well. She DID trust her gut and ran.

  52. NY Mom September 15, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

    Ask your grown kids and your friends if they ever had an experience of being approached by a stranger.

    Common as rain.

    Get over it.

  53. Donna September 15, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    While the guy’s behavior is odd, odd isn’t the same as nefarious. I’m sure that I’ve done things that, when viewed from outside my own head, were completely odd to others. Heck I’ve done things that even I realized were weird for the people outside my own brain after I did them. For all anyone knows, he had a reason for this conversation that was perfectly logical to him at the time. For example, maybe he had a very similar dog that disappeared and he originally stopped to see if it was his dog. Or maybe he just thought the dog was really cool. The fact is that most people, at least occasionally, act spontaneously and don’t always dissect every possible interpretation before they act. As a result, we all sometimes do things that will be interpreted as odd.

    That said, I have no problem with the girl having a bad vibe – it was weird behavior – and acting on it. Everything she did was perfectly appropriate. Mom’s reaction was waaay over the top. The only it that happened is that her daughter had a strange conversation with a man. It probably won’t be her last.

  54. Donna September 15, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    “The “puppy dog”‘intro is commonly used by preditors. As is the candy lure.”

    Yes, it is … on Law & Order: SVU. Not so much in real life.

    And even on Law & Order: SVU, it is generally the ABDUCTOR that has the puppy and not the victim. The abductor lures the kids to a white van to look at puppies. The victim doesn’t have a dog. In fact, much like the fact that burglars tend not to break into houses with dogs, regardless of size of dog (too much noise), I am going to guess a kid with a dog is not a big draw for abductors.

  55. Buffy September 15, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

    Or the guy asks the kid to help him search for his lost puppy. (on SVU)

  56. Michael_oz September 15, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    @Donna

    “The “puppy dog”‘intro is commonly used by preditors. As is the candy lure.”

    And to add to that, if I were a predator on the hunt for a kid to snatch, that is the last kind of lure I would use. Just think about it. If I exhibited behaviors that people expect from a predator, it would reduce my success.

    The most effective route to take is deception – to make people think you are some kind of person when you’re not. This has been demonstrated clearly in some newsworthy cases.

    Why is it some of us (humans) just can’t think things through?

  57. sexhysteria September 16, 2016 at 2:40 am #

    So pathetic it’s funny. Find a mom? Not a dad? Made it home safely by the grace of god? Sounds like the wild dogs were on her heels about to eat the kid alive. A near miss by a speeding truck would pale in comparison to the terror of this experience!

  58. Derek Logue of OnceFallen.com September 16, 2016 at 5:52 am #

    Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your paranoia grow?

    With “preditor” alerts and victim groups all on the Nancy Grace show.

    Wherever you got the dope you’re on, I do not need to know,

    But I will gladly tell you where you are wrong, or just tell you where you can go 🙂

  59. Mimi September 16, 2016 at 5:54 am #

    Your daughter showed sound instincts and commonsense. Feel uneasy? Act on it.

  60. BL September 16, 2016 at 6:23 am #

    Why would anyone try to abduct a kid with a dog? Wouldn’t the dog’s teeth be likely to end up in the would-be abductor’s jugular?

  61. Katie G September 16, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    That part about “everything right” is bothersome, because it implies that anyone without such ideal circumstances is doing it wrong

  62. baby-paramedic September 16, 2016 at 7:51 am #

    You know what never letting your guard down looks like? PTSD, that’s what is looks like.
    The fact I can now walk into a room and not immediately and consciously plot various escape routes from the room took hard work.
    Being able to sit with my back to a room… took hard work.
    You don’t WANT to be always alert, never letting your guard down.

  63. Jessica September 16, 2016 at 7:59 am #

    Check the comments on the article. They all agree with us. “Sounds like your daughter did a good job.” “An 11-yo should definitely be allowed to stay home for an hour alone.”

  64. BDK September 16, 2016 at 8:16 am #

    What guy talks to a girl in a car? People don’t do that in this day and age. It’s creepy and the kud did good taking off. I don’t blame the mom either. I remember two guys sitting in a rust bucket of a car who would be waiting around whenever the school bus came around. We ended up calling the police because they were really suspicious. Later, it turns out they were waiting for their kid to get off the bus. I don’t feel bad calling the pilice because they were suspicious at the time. You gotta do what your gut is telling you.

  65. Jen September 16, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    @Ater
    Years ago, it might have been odd to ask a kid directions but kids were everywhere and they probably cruised the entire town and surrounding area on their bikes all the time. They would be pretty capable of giving you directions. Now that kids are not allowed outside and are chauffeured everywhere, you’d be hard pressed to find a kid that could give you helpful directions.

  66. Beth September 16, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    What on earth is suspicious about a vehicle waiting at a school bus stop, every day, doing the very same thing you were doing? Because they didn’t have a nice car? I wouldn’t be so pleased with myself for calling the cops on them.

  67. mer September 16, 2016 at 8:43 am #

    Beth, you missed the part about it being “…two guys..” That was the problem; two women in the same car, no problem.

    😉

  68. lollipoplover September 16, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    @pentamom-

    I teach my kids to follow their gut and we play out many “What Ifs” situations they many encounter, but I am careful not to speak in absolutes like:

    “But driving along and pulling up beside her? That’s just not a normal way to strike up a conversation. How often do people actually pause in their driving to talk to unknown passersby just to shoot the breeze?

    Two situations for us recently:

    1. I was doing a morning run with 3 dogs and listening to music…a car approached me at high speed from the other side of the road and the male (eek!) driver told me to stop. A dog was loose (a doberman) and broke out of it’s electric fence. I know this dog (he’s aggressive) and this stranger probably saved me thousand in vet bills.
    Thank you stranger!

    2. My daughter bikes to school daily. A new family was letting their 2 kids bike but following them in their car on the way to work. The man stopped my daughter and asked if their kids could join the bike line..she said of course. Now she has 2 new friends.

    It’s these “Man in a car” never talking to kids absolutes that confuse our children. We need to coach our kids to use good judgement and evaluate scenarios and not act automatically on this default of paranoia. Starting out on that paranoia or profiling, that any man should never talk to a child, especially from a car, is what causes these false child luring reports in our towns and take attention away from real crime!

    My teenage daughter has 2 friends who reported a child luring incident to police and that was discussed at length on Facebook forums in our community (“How scary!” “You can’t let kids outside anymore”). The two girls(13) were walking in their neighborhood when a man in a car approached them and asked if they called for Uber. They immediately ran home and told their parents who called the police. In school, the girl told my daughter that she “almost died that day”.
    I don’t see how teaching our kids to fear men in cars makes them any safer, just in need of anti-anxiety medication.

  69. lollipoplover September 16, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    “I remember two guys sitting in a rust bucket of a car who would be waiting around whenever the school bus came around. We ended up calling the police because they were really suspicious. Later, it turns out they were waiting for their kid to get off the bus. I don’t feel bad calling the pilice because they were suspicious at the time.”

    So the rust bucket of a car or the maleness made them really suspicious?

    Did you ever consider waving at the window of the rust bucket, maybe making the gesture to put a window down, and asking these folks waiting, like you for their own kid, if they had a kid at the same school as yours????

    Instead you called the police on some kid’s parents! Or grandparents, who maybe aren’t can’t walk to the stop, and put them through police questioning?? For the crime of waiting at a bus stop while male….

    Glad you don’t feel bad about it! I would have felt like a COMPLETE ASSHOLE and apologized profusely for jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of my neighbors.

  70. pentamom September 16, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    Well, I don’t think I used any absolutes. I certainly never intended to communicate absolutes.

  71. pentamom September 16, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    And I’m not about teaching kids to “fear” all that much. But sometimes caution at certain signs is warranted. I don’t want my kids to be cruel to anybody, but no harm would be done by just excusing oneself quickly from such a situation promptly if warning bells went off.

  72. lollipoplover September 16, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    @pentamom-

    I personally think many of this generation’s warning bells are rewired wrongly to go off with *any* communication because of this men-in-cars-plucking-kids-off-streets urban myth. Why are only men, not women, subject to this profiling?

    Caution IS good. A simply, “Why do you ask?” for questions you don’t want to answer is an option, too. As much as I’m not a fan but my girls love her, Megan Trainor sings a song called “NO”, and I think it is smart for girls and boys to understand they don’t have to answer questions and can say NO and not even entertain ANY unwanted attention, especially if they’re trusting their instincts. How that basic street smarts gets misconstrued to mean a man in a car can never talk to a kid on the street and this isn’t normal is what I have a problem with…not telling kids to trust their instincts. Instincts are good…except when paranoid parents make kids fearful of ALL men in cars.

  73. Jason September 16, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    @lollipoplover – both of your examples of recent incidents are of men pulling over with a specific purpose in mind. Had the man who warned you of the Doberman instead asked you your name, then your age, and maybe if you were married, I suspect you would feel differently about the encounter.

    Had the man in the story just asked the 11 y.o. girl directions to the post office or the dog park, neither her nor her mom would probably have freaked out.

  74. Amy September 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    The comment above from the one who “lost” her six year old for ten minutes reminded me a couple of my own scenarios and how lucky I’ve been that the adults my kids have run into have reacted appropriately. The first one was on a road trip. My 6 year old had to use the restroom so I stopped at a rest stop. Rather than take my two year old out of the car, I sent her with my 8 year old pointing out the path to the building with the restroom. A little after they started walking, it hit me that I actually also had to use the restroom so I unstrapped the toddler and went in figuring I’d catch up with the other two there. When I went in I didn’t see my daughter, but went about my business figuring they headed back out to the car. When I came out, I didn’t see either kid at the car so went back to look for them. I saw a couple of police officers walking around the corner of the building with a child and then got scared (I was never scared that somebody kidnapped them or anything, just scared because I believed I’d get some kind of lecture from the officers). When I caught up to them my daughter was not with them, but they informed me that she came to them when she couldn’t find her brother (the 8 year old-he was in the restroom and she didn’t wait) but that when they were walking she spotted him and they went on their merry way. I met them back at the car. With stories of “incidents,” I was so happy that this non-incident was recognized for what it was. My daughter spotted a couple people in uniform that she thought could help her and they trusted her to go back with her brother without lecturing about where her mother was.

    The second incident was when we were staying in a hotel. I decided to take a shower and the 8,6, and 2 year old were watching tv. During the shower, the two year old had somehow opened up the door and went running down the hall. I spotted her in the arms of gentleman going around to each door. When I called out her name, he brought her over explaining he heard her crying outside of his room and was going around to all the doors on the floor trying to find out who she belonged to. My older two got a lecture about not paying attention to what their little sister was doing and I was grateful that the gentlemen had the sense to find out who the toddler recognized rather than just calling security.

  75. lollipoplover September 16, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    “Had the man in the story just asked the 11 y.o. girl directions to the post office or the dog park, neither her nor her mom would probably have freaked out.”

    I’m not so sure about that.
    We had an incident last year when an older man in a vintage car approached kids at a bus stop asking for directions to their school. He told them he was a substitute at the school.
    They ran.
    He was reported to police with the very specific type of his car. It was all over our news for several days. Turns out, he WAS a substitute (probably never again, after being investigated for this) at their school and this was his first time getting there and apparently he made the mistake of asking for directions while male in a car.

    I agree, the line of questioning with this kid was not appropriate. It still doesn’t mean that all men in cars should never speak to kids, ever. That’s why I gave the examples of normal interactions that do occur with strangers and children. They happen all the time, often positive outcomes, and no one freaks out, calls the police, or blogs about it.

  76. James Pollock September 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    “’You speak with great conviction, considering that you were not there and did not witness any of the actions in question.’

    Yep. I don’t have to have been present, nor does this event even have to be real, for me to regard the driver’s actions – as described – as unusual.”

    Except you DIDN’T SAY “this driver’s actions– as described– are unusual”.
    You DID SAY “It is correct to be suspicious of this guy’s motives”

    How do you know, with such certainty, that the guy in the story had “suspicious” motives? The only way you COULD know would if YOU ARE the guy and you therefore know that your motives were suspect?

  77. James Pollock September 16, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    “Later, it turns out they were waiting for their kid to get off the bus. I don’t feel bad calling the pilice because they were suspicious at the time. You gotta do what your gut is telling you.”

    My gut is telling me to call you a paranoid wacko.

  78. James Pollock September 16, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    “James, apparently I’m guilty of “not assuming a situation absolutely must have been harmless while being on FRK” so now you have to get the put-words-in-people’s-mouths police after me.”

    free advice
    In future, if you want to whine about people putting words in your mouth, try to do so without putting words in people’s mouth.
    /free advice

    You’ve gravely mistaken my position. I don’t assume this situation must have been harmless, and never said anything of the sort. We do not know if it was the most nefarious of cads, or the most innocent of saints, who talked to this girl. Work with me on this. We. Don’t. Know.
    Assuming EITHER ONE is true and proceeding as if that were the only possible truth, is wrong.
    Treating “talking to children while male” like a criminal act is wrong (AND stupid).

  79. Jean September 16, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    I did everything I was supposed to. The kids never played outside without my husband and I having them in our sites at all times. They were not allowed to go to the park without one of us, couldn’t walk to school alone, and when they did, had a cell phone in case danger arose.

    We bought our home in a very safe neighborhood, and make sure no sex offender lived anywhere near there. When Jessica’s Law was on the ballot, I voted in favor of it, because we would be in the safe zone.

    However, my worst nightmare came true. But it wasn’t a stranger, nor was it a known sex offender, but a family member. None of saw the warning signs, until after my child disclosed the abuse.

  80. Jason September 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

    @lollipoplover – yes, I agree completely.

    @JP – I suspect you’re off your meds. I can be suspicious of anyone or anything. I don’t need to know what is in anyone else’s head for me to be suspicious of his motives or his sanity, because the suspicion is mine. It represents my own doubts. From that individual’s perspective, there is nothing suspicious about his own motives or behavior – he knows exactly what they are.

  81. James Pollock September 16, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    “@JP – I suspect you’re off your meds”

    And I suspect you’re on some unprescribed ones, if you think your having a suspicion of something makes it true.

    “I can be suspicious of anyone or anything.”
    This is known clinically as “paranoia”.

    Have a nice day… if you can.

  82. Messy Mama September 17, 2016 at 1:20 am #

    Not entirely on topic but closely related – I was on holiday in Michigan at the Tulip Time Festival last spring (a huge deal with tons of tourists, clogged streets, etc). In the middle of the busy downtown area a toddler was wandering unattended and visibly upset. She must’ve been 18 months, two years old at most. No one was approaching her to help. People looked and stared but were obviously afraid to go near a strange child. I picked her up and asked her where her mommy or daddy was, were they in this store or that store and pointed and walked VERY slowly so she could point at a place or face that looked familiar. I specifically picked her up because the street was so crowded the parents couldn’t have seen her until she was a foot away. I wanted her high up so they could spy her or vice versa. Turns out grandma was watching the kid who had gone from slow toddler to quick toddler recently and hadn’t even really missed her yet. Grandma was about six stores away and glad to get her back from a kind stranger. Let’s all be kind strangers so there’s more of us than the other kind and so kids can get help when needed. It’s a sad state where toddlers are left to fend for themselves.

  83. LJ September 17, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    The idea that we can control for every variable in our kids’ day to day life is absurd and crazy making. The idea that to be a good parent you must tighten the controls at every single bump in the road is an impossible and unfair burden for both kids and parents. It’s fine and necessary to help our kids figure out what to do in tricky situations but to act as though it is our fault because they face a tricky situation is feeding anxious parenting and sheltered childhoods. I think of all the things my husband and I routinely let our kids do; play outside and in the neighborhood on their own, sleep outside, climb trees, use pocket knives, walk/bike to the village store or friend’s house, ski, trampoline, play sports, fly together without parents, the list goes on…all of these things I did as a child too and I honestly cannot imagine having grown up without it. I also cannot imagine crippling myself with ‘what ifs’ or banning any of these activities when something scary happened. I have felt the impulse to do this but have not actually followed through with it. Honestly our kids would have stopped skiing and organized sports long ago if we lived by that mindset. Of course I would be devastated if my children were badly hurt. However, sometimes terrible things happen and it is actually NOT a parenting mistake, it is simply the inherent risk of participating fully in life.
    P.s. As I’m writing this I just remembered the time when my son (who was about 9) and a neighbor kid were playing in the woods right off of the neighbors’ yard, and they saw a black bear. What happened? Pretty much the same thing that happened in the story above; nothing, they got a little scared and went home. As could be predicted by non sensationalists, the bear also turned tail and headed home. And to this day these boys have great story (that they can and have embellished upon) of what it felt like to be without grown ups in the face of something that felt potentially dangerous.

  84. CrazyCatLady September 17, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

    If…if we can trust this girl…that the man did indeed question her.

    If, I say if, because last spring the police came cruising slowly down my private road. I went out to ask what was going on. They asked me if I had seen a man walking through the area or knew of anyone who might have been. The boy down the end of the road had gone up to wait for the bus that morning. While waiting, according to the 3rd grade kid, a scruffy man came by and lunged at the boy who ran away, back down the road. He hid in a neighbor’s driveway, then when he saw the coast was clear, went back up and got on the bus when it came. At school, he told someone that the man tried to grab him….and then the police were involved.

    I talked to the lady who lives at the end of the street. Yes, there is a guy who walks by, she had talked to him some, he seemed harmless. She called the police to vouch for him.

    After a day and a half…the kid’s story changed. He was waiting at the stop when the guy walked down the road. The guy waved at him and the kid ran away. There was no lunging, trying to grab or anything. The boy’s father came and apologized to everyone on the street, and the kid had to apologize to the man. He had gotten scared, and made the story bigger than it was, which could have made things really bad for the man walking down the street. I am SO glad that the guy had talked to my neighbor….that she could kind of vouch for him.

    All we have with the above story is the side of the girl. I don’t want to discount kids when they say something happens…but sometimes…their imaginations can get away from them. Who knows if all the questioning actually happened.

  85. SKL September 17, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

    How would this have been different if the mom was home?

    Or is it that an 11yo must never be allowed to walk a dog?

    So frustrating to see people pushing this. Why do they want to cripple our daughters?

  86. Heresolong September 18, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

    Mary @12:26

    Thanks for the correction. I was trying to figure out what the issue was with a 60 y.o. man hitting on a 25 year old. Might be a little out of his age range, but running home to tell her mom and report it to the police, as well as having him arrested?

    15 makes a lot more sense.

  87. Angela September 18, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    I read this a while back and had the same reaction as you. Scratching my head over why this was so tragic when the child did all the right things.

  88. Red September 19, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    This paranoia is so ridiculously widespread. I seriously doubt that very many people on this post let their children go about their towns independently, either. How widespread is pedophile paranoia today?
    Every weekend and evening, I cannot HELP but notice the sheer “desertedness” of Fresno California’s neighborhood streets, when it comes to kids riding their tricycles, bicycles, scooters, and roller-blades down the sidewalks. And the parents are so much more “strict” than they used to be, particularly to girls. The neighborhoods are chalk full of paranoid “uber-moms” who will quickly whip out their iPhones and call the cops at the first sight of a “stray kid!!!” I’m serious. The absence of kids on Fresno’s streets is impossible to NOT notice! Deserted playgrounds, empty skate parks, etc. This is especially profound during summer and Christmas vacations! Everybody is keeping their kids locked up behind double dead-bolted front and back doors!!! Just imagine what it must be “like” for a kid growing up today! I mean, seriously, as a kid, the only times you’d ever get to see the outside world are, 1. On television. 2. The limited view you get from your non-openable bedroom window, and 3. From the tinted rear windows of your parent’s SUV!!! What’s more, after years of having your parents tell you how “defenseless” you are and how “incapable” you are, you’ll probably feel that they are RIGHT! By the time you reach the age of 16, the world will look so “evil” to you that you won’t want to go out into it!!! And you probably won’t have any “self confidence” at all, either! This ( and free iPhone video game apps ) sadly, has caused most video game arcades to become a thing of the past. At Oh Wow Nickel Arcade in Fresno, they decided to get rid if their bicycle rack, because kids are never allowed out on their bikes anymore. Day after day, the bike rack sat there completely unused. Parents strictly DROVE their kids to the arcade, as to where in the early to mid 1990s, kids used to stop by the arcades after school( there were a number of them around town back then ) and play some games and buy a few sodas. ALL of that independence has been COMPLETELY taken away from the kids of today, all due to media and police “fear mongering!!!” The last time I went to the Oh Wow Nickel arcade ( just for old time sake ), I got my pride hurt. I went in there like I always had in the past, and I was told that,1. I now ( just like at Chuck E. Cheese’s ), Ihad to be accompanied by a child that i could prove I was “related” to, and 2. for “security and “legal” purposes, neither adults OR children could enter the establishment without being accompanied by either a parent or a child! No kids or teens allowed without parents in tow, and no single adults allowed ( male OR female ) PERIOD!!! When I pass by the arcade, I realize I ain’t missin’ anything much anyway. Most of the best games are from the 1980s to mid 1990s. Their screens are either a jaundice yellow, or they are blacked-out entirely. HOW that place remains ‘open’ is a mystery to just about everybody.
    Anyway, kids have absolutely NO freedom at all today. They are being made to live in a state of “forced seclusion!” We can praise the Lord and thank our fear mongering mainstream media and our excessively inclusive sex offender registries for that. It really is sad. It must really SUCK spending your entire childhood being raised by stern, suspicious parents while being kept behind locked security doors! This also stems from yesterday’s “generation-x” who has said, …. “I’ll be ——- if I’m going to let “MY” kids behave the way ” I ” used to and run around in the streets the way ” I ” used to do!!! “We had freedom, and over half of us ended up brain-damaged, perverted, and HOMELESS!!!!” “Not “MY” kids!!!! Now, while this isn’t bad, it can definitely be “overdone!” And man, is it EVER being overdone.

  89. Red September 19, 2016 at 7:11 am #

    I forgot to say that, if you really do think that this “Free Range Kids” movement is gaining at least a tiny bit of momentum, all you have to do is go for a drive at around 3:00 on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to realize, that, no, it is NOT gaining ANY momentum at all!!! We tell the parents out there that the world at large really is not all that dangerous and that their kids only need to learn common sense, street smarts, and self defense. What’s their answer? …. “Yeah, RIGHT!!,….”pervert!!!***” Seriously, I almost got punched in the face by an irate Dad over this issue! In that man’s mind, I wouldn’t even be TALKING about “children’s freedom” if I was not a “pervert” MYSELF!!!That’s when I learned that some topics should only be brought up “ONLINE!” THAT’S how “touchy” the topic of “children’s freedom” really is! So for God sake, BE CAREFUL.

  90. Jill September 19, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    Sooooo, basically her kid walked the dog, a guy talked to her and nothing happened, Terrifying!

  91. Christi September 27, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

    It sounds like what she learned is that her daughter was ready and capable. The girl did exactly as any parent would hope their child would do and made it home safely. This should be a success story, not a cautionary tale.