Would Your Kid Go Off with a Stranger and His Puppy?

Since this pseudo-helpful video is making the rounds again, here’s my take on it, again:

It may look like the creator of this video, Joey Salads, is doing something other than creating terror, angst and hate with his Stranger Danger “social experiment.”

But he’s not.

As you’ll see, Mr. Salads asks parents if they’ve taught their kids not to talk to strangers — a lesson I don’t endorse, since most strangers are good and you want kids to feel confident asking strangers for help, if they need it. “You can TALK to anyone, you cannot go OFF with anyone,” is the advice I prefer. Anyway, here’s the piece:

Mr. Salads proceeds to startle the parents by showing them that their kids DO talk to strangers. He does this by going up to very young kids (kids so young they would normally not be at the park unsupervised) and asking them if they want to meet his puppies. Some go off with him.

Not addressed are a few salient facts, including the biggie: Isn’t it more than likely that these kids feel fine going off with this man because they just saw him talking to their mom? What’s more, their mom is right there! If she didn’t want them going off, she’d intervene.

After this bizarre scenario that he calls an experiment — without ever telling us how many kids he approached who did not go off with him — he says 700 kids are abducted a day, presumably by the type of person he’s warning us about: a “stranger.”

Which is interesting, as the U.S. Dept. of Justice puts the number of children abducted by strangers at 115 a year.

He says 255,550 a year.  The crime stats say 115 a year.

If 700 kids actually were taken by strangers on a daily basis, that would be closing in on 1% of all kids under age 9. So if you sent your kid to a grammar school with 500 kids, by fifth grade your child would have witnessed 25 kids — a classroom full — kidnapped the way they are on “Law & Order.”

But the story of how easily a child can be lead to his doom is one that TV can’t get enough of.  Here is almost the exact same “experiment,” on Headline News. As I said then:

A show that “tests” whether kids can be lured to a car with the promise of a puppy — the premise of this show — makes it seem as if this is a situation kids could very likely be faced with, something on par with, “Would your kids eat a cookie if someone offered it?” What is so hard to understand is that, first of all, the vast majority of crimes against children are committed NOT be strangers they meet at the park , but by people they know. So it is bizarre to keep acting as if the park is teaming with danger.

But this scary, misleading  message just seems to be one that everyone loves to share, as if it’s a public service.

As if parents just aren’t worried enough yet.

As if kids have just way too much unsupervised time outside.

Thanks, Mr. Salads. You have emptied the parks, locked children inside, and frozen parents’ hearts, with a big lie.

And a cute puppy. – L

.

I may be cute, but I’ll haunt your nightmares.

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31 Responses to Would Your Kid Go Off with a Stranger and His Puppy?

  1. Jim K April 29, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

    The video is proof that STEM is important. The 255,550 is about as ridiculous as the million plus which those milk cartons used to promote. Lets do the math. 255,550 / 50 = 5,111 / state annually. 5,111 / 365 = 14 / day.

    If 14 kids a day were abducted, or whatever, we couldn’t turn on the news without hearing about another abduction.

    So the real problem is all those Mothers at those playgrounds hovering over those kids instead need to help their kids with their math homework.

  2. James Pollock April 29, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

    The question of “is your kid/are your kids old enough to be left alone somewhere?” is a valid question and one that’s hard to know the answer to. Mostly, it depends on the tolerance for something totally unexpected happening.

    To drag up another bugaboo, Adam Walsh was left in a place he should have been safe, but he allowed himself to be sent away rather than speak up and say that he wasn’t with the group of boys who were sent away from the department store videogame display for being disruptive. His parents didn’t (couldn’t) anticipate that young Adam would be sent out of a department store. With 20/20 hindsight, we can see that he should have spoken up with then store employee shooed away those other boys, and perhaps should have been taken under supervision rather than shown the door. But he didn’t and he wasn’t.

    Which brings us back to Mr. Salads and his sting operation. What’s the best way to prepare your child to face the actual dangers of a park or playground (which are more likely to include bullies or vicious animals than pedophile child-abductors)? Remembering that ideally, the kids are resistant to all of the dangers. Where I live, the dangers include the occasional bear or mountain lion. Other places have snakes or scorpions. Cars remain the predator most likely to seriously injure or kill a child. I wouldn’t have wanted my 8yo in the NYC subway system… not because I think the NYC subway system is too inherently dangerous for an 8yo, but because my specific 8yo had no experience that would help her identify and avoid the dangers that do exist there. Ditto for the African serengeti, arctic tundra, or 500 miles from land on a 36-foot sloop. (OK, maybe that last one actually IS too inherently dangerous for an 8yo alone. I don’t think I’d want to try that one… but there are minors who’ve done it, and been just fine.)

    The fix, probably, in the long-term is for pretty close to everyone over about 6 years old having a cell-phone. When kids can check in (or be checked-in-on) via cellular phone, there’s less need to be right there with them. Sure, that’s less freedom than we had as kids… we’d disappear down the block and around the corner and be more-or-less out-of-touch to our parents (well, there were helicopter parents then, too… “tell me where you’re going and phone me as soon as you get there” works with just landlines, too. Back when I was in high school, I knew a 16-year-old girl who had less freedom than I’d had at 9 or 10. I’m not sure if that was just “different rules for girls”.)

  3. SKL April 30, 2017 at 12:59 am #

    And the sensationalism is catchy in general. The other day someone started a fb discussion about an immigration case. In short, a European woman had been stripped of her citizenship and deported in fall 2016, because it became known that, in applying for refugee status and citizenship status years earlier, she and her husband had lied about husband’s miltary involvement in a massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Europe. The case was being argued in the Supreme Court and the question was raised whether just any lie or minor crime could cause one to lose his/her citizenship. Someone in the international adoption community wants us all to think this could happen to our kids if they (after already being citizens since babyhood) get caught speeding or similar.

    At one point a poster said, “none of us should be feeling comfortable or safe right now.” I guess we should all be in a state of permanent panic over the status of our kids who gained automatic citizenship as babies the instant they first deplaned within the USA. Has any such adoptee been faced with a challenge to their citizenship, ever? No. Has there been any discussion about changing the law that makes our kids citizens? No. But: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. 😛 I won’t even get into the people who advise against traveling with our kids lest they are denied re-entry, abused, jailed, deported, and generally drawn and quartered for being US citizens. 😛

  4. James Pollock April 30, 2017 at 3:45 am #

    ” The case was being argued in the Supreme Court and the question was raised whether just any lie or minor crime could cause one to lose his/her citizenship.”

    That is the position the Solicitor General of the United States has taken… any misstatement of fact, at any point in the citizenship application, no matter how serious (or not) or how long ago, allows the President (via the Dept. of Justice) to revoke naturalized citizenship and proceed to deportation. The Justices did not seem receptive to this position, according to observers.

    ” Someone in the international adoption community wants us all to think this could happen to our kids if they (after already being citizens since babyhood) get caught speeding or similar.”
    That person misunderstands the point that Chief Justice Roberts was making. They’re confusing failing to disclose a speeding ticket when applying for citizenship, with getting a speeding ticket after citizenship has been granted.

    The power the government is claiming to possess is quite far reaching. The jury instruction given by the judge in Ms. Maslenjak’s trial was this:
    “Even if you find that a false statement did not influence the decision to approve the defendant’s naturalization, the government need only prove that one of the defendant’s statements was false.”

    Chief Justice Roberts was quoted in the NY Times:
    “Chief Justice Roberts added that the government’s position would give prosecutors extraordinary power. “If you take the position that not answering about the speeding ticket or the nickname is enough to subject that person to denaturalization,” he said, “the government will have the opportunity to denaturalize anyone they want.””
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/us/politics/supreme-court-naturalization.html

    This is frightening for someone who’s adopted internationally, because it suggests that citizenship of the child could be revoked if there are any irregularities surrounding the adoption. (i.e., If you are in any way not 100% sure that your adoption was in total compliance with both U.S law AND the law of the nation your adoptee came from.) The government isn’t trying to expel adoptees (yet?) but the position the government IS arguing would allow them to do so in the future, if they wanted to, (if the Supreme Court allows the lower court’s decision to stand.)

  5. donald April 30, 2017 at 5:31 am #

    It’s obvious that Joey makes these videos to get viewers on his channel. It’s working. Why would he need to be truthful? He wouldn’t get as many viewers.

    “Isn’t it more than likely that these kids feel fine going off with this man because they just saw him talking to their mom? What’s more, their mom is right there! If she didn’t want them going off, she’d intervene.”

  6. Jessica April 30, 2017 at 7:21 am #

    SKL
    That is an amazing observation, about people wanting to feel terrified about their lifelong American citizen adopted children. I find that people LOVE to be scared. They love to feel that they’re going to have the opportunity to be a hero (or a victim) ANY MINUTE NOW.

  7. Joseph Magil April 30, 2017 at 9:47 am #

    Not only, as you mentioned, did the children witness their mothers talking with this man, but as you can see in the still shot from the video, the girl is looking directly at the camera. It appears that the girl knows that she and the man are being filmed. Naturally, she would take that as a further guarantee that nothing bad can happen. Real abductors do not film their crimes.

  8. Anna April 30, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    To be honest, although I’ve talked to my son about not going off with strangers, I can’t say for a fact that he wouldn’t. Truth is, it’s pretty easy for an adult to trick a child if they put their mind to it. Which is, of course, why teaching “stranger danger” is equally useless.

  9. elysium April 30, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    @SKL – If people didn’t do their diligence, they should be somewhat concerned. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/27/499573378/south-korean-adopted-at-age-3-is-to-be-deported-37-years-later

    But as long as they were under 18 by 2000, they should be fine.

  10. DocHal April 30, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    Isn’t anyone besides me bothered by the fact that this person, who’s a total stranger to the mothers, was given permission by the mothers to approach their children and walk away with them. These mothers, who tell their children not to talk to strangers, gives a stranger permission to do just that and walk away with them. Does a stranger telling you he’s doing an experiment and asking permission mean he’s not a pervert or is he just trying to gain your trust? If he actually was snatching your kid what are you going to do? Chase him? Some of the mothers had other kids in carriages.

  11. Celine April 30, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    I saw that video a few days ago as a FB friend shared it, and was kind of waiting for your take on it: thank you so much!
    As you say, as if parents were not worried enough. Most will admit they simply can’t have keep an eye on their children constantly simply because they might have two or more to watch, who often go different directions. After seeing that video, I can almost understand why some are too worried to take them to playgrounds, even if they turn their phones off.

  12. Catherine Caldwell-Harris April 30, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    I really like this point of SKL:

    Isn’t it more than likely that these kids feel fine going off with this man because they just saw him talking to their mom? What’s more, their mom is right there! If she didn’t want them going off, she’d intervene.

    Developmental psychologists call this “social referencing.” Even 15 mo old do it. When a stranger approaches, the infant / child looks to the caregiver to see whether to be friendly or scared of the stranger. Developmental psychologists consider it a positive thing, “secure attachment” when the child will interact in a friendly manner with the stranger following seeing her caregiver do so.

  13. bluebird of bitterness April 30, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    True confession: When I was a new mother, I still believed a lot of the stranger danger nonsense that I’d had drummed into me since approximately forever. Then when the Jacob Wetterling abduction happened, and it was on the news day and night, and pictures of Jacob were everywhere, I found myself wondering, What’s the big deal? Doesn’t this sort of thing happen all the time? What’s so special about Jacob, that he gets all this publicity, when there are hundreds of other kids in the same predicament, with more of them being abducted every day? I guess that’s when the first seeds of doubt were planted.

  14. Catherine Caldwell-Harris April 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    Dr. Charles Nelson of Children’s Hospital Boston did the correct version of the “go with a stranger” test. He asked his female graduate students to show up at the door of the home of children whose parents had previously agreed to participate. The children were age 6-teen years (possibly a few younger). The stranger rang the doorbell and the child opened with a parent not in the same room. The stranger said, “Would you please come with me?” Fewer than 5% agreed. The exception was children who had spent their early years in an orphanage in Rumania. As many as half of those children agreed. Nelson discusses this as the long-lasting social relations deficit that accompany the deprivations of crowded, poorly funded orphanages.

  15. Rebel mom April 30, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    Please, please, please no more comments advising to give kids cell phones to stay safe. (A)It’s another leash and (B) it keeps them from developing their own senses. “Does this seem okay? I’ll call mom and ask” vs “no, I’ve thought it over so I’m leaving this area.” Everyone needs to be able to do this ALONE. Mom will not answer, the cell phone will get lost/dropped/etc and with no skills the kids will be paralyzed without a clue what to do. No, cell phones are NOT the answer. Skills are!

  16. K April 30, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

    Rebel mom, luckily, I don’t think that’s how kids use cell phones. The other day, I heard a 9-10 yo boy, walking down my block with a friend, saying, “Siri, text mom ‘can I go to 7-11 with my friends?’ . . . Siri, text . . . Siri, text mom . . .” I laughed for two reasons: 1) it would have been faster to text her yourself! and 2) once he’s walking past my house, he’s well on his way to 7-11, regardless of what mom has to say about it. Cell phones make parents feel better, but I don’t think kids will ever actually give up decision making to their parents because of them.

  17. SKL April 30, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

    The social relations deficit brought up in Catherine C-H’s post is interesting. Could it happen to US kids who don’t get to experiment with real-world situations?

    I was thinking about this along other lines this afternoon. I was trying to drive out of a parking lot after a youth group event. There were 4 jr. high age youths hanging around in the parking lot. They had released some balloons and were watching where they went. A dad was present but wasn’t telling them what to do. None of the youths thought to move out of my way for some minutes. It just didn’t occur to them that taking up the entire [and only] outlet of the parking lot when someone was waiting to exit was not appropriate. Or maybe their instincts to notice a massive killing machine in close quarters were not developed. When I was a kid, this would only be done by us if we were trying to be annoying and pushing our luck. So, this made me wonder if our drive-them-everywhere culture, coupled with ubiquitous passive safety measures, has prevented kids from developing basic horse sense about pedestrian safety.

  18. Anon Y. Mouse May 1, 2017 at 3:15 am #

    Spelling nit: “teeming,” not “teaming” — in this case, it does change the meaning of the sentence
    into something abstract.

  19. rudster May 1, 2017 at 5:07 am #

    “I guess we should all be in a state of permanent panic over the status of our kids who gained automatic citizenship as babies the instant they first deplaned within the USA. Has any such adoptee been faced with a challenge to their citizenship, ever? No.”

    SKl, no international adoptee EVER gained US citizenship simply by deplaning in the US – their parents had to apply for it. Many did not, and either lied to their children that they did, or just never told them that they weren’t citizens. Many of these adoptees find themselves faced with deportation at some point.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/17/502413247/as-adoptee-in-u-s-awaits-deportation-his-korean-birth-mother-is-studying-english

  20. hineata May 1, 2017 at 6:23 am #

    Without thinking anything about what he was asking, a guy I know asked a bunch of kids playing in the street outside his house (to which he’did very recently moved) if they would help him find his lost kitten. They did, not one asking their parents first, and between them all they found the kitten ☺.

    The area he lives in is pretty free range. Presumably they have learnt to trust their instincts regarding who is safe. That and they all went together, not off singularly.

  21. SKL May 1, 2017 at 9:01 am #

    elysium and rudster, I am aware that there are legal steps to be taken pre-adoption (obviously) and that the current law (automatic citizenship upon deplaning assuming laws were followed up to then) was not always in effect. However, the discussion was on a page where these legalities have been discussed ad nauseam and almost all the members’ adopted kids are minors. And one hopes they were all legally adopted and legally flown here (if not, they have bigger problems than whatever is happening in the above-mentioned court case). The person who made the comment that “none of us should be feeling comfortable or safe right now” has a middle-school daughter who was granted citizenship upon landing in the USA.

    This is just one example of an ongoing onslaught of sensationalist fear-mongering in that community. It’s ridiculous.

  22. James May 1, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    SKL:

    ” It just didn’t occur to them that taking up the entire [and only] outlet of the parking lot when someone was waiting to exit was not appropriate. Or maybe their instincts to notice a massive killing machine in close quarters were not developed.”

    I used to fly a fair bit (fortunately not as much anymore!). Every time, I’d see those carts the size of a small car going down the hallways. And every time I saw grown adults nearly get run over by them, because these adults simply didn’t notice the huge machine with the loud, obnoxious beeping siren and the bright flashing light. I have always wondered just how stupid and unobservant a person has to be to miss these. Don’t get me wrong, I can get lost in my own thoughts–gave myself a black eye once by walking into a door that wasn’t even closed!–but when I’m in an airport, where we all know these machines operate? I keep my eyes open!

    I think it’s a cultural shift. People expect you to get out of their way, whether you have the right-of-way or not.

  23. SKL May 1, 2017 at 9:10 am #

    Kids’ instincts are interesting. When my daughters were 3, I sent them to swim lessons with their nanny. One day there was a new swim instructor and my normally mellow kid started screaming that she would not work with him. It was so bad that the nanny called me and asked me to set the kid straight. Well I assured her that nothing was going to happen with her nanny and all the lifeguards standing right there watching, so she complied. But the fact that she had such a fit was probably not random. Over the previous several months she had had at least 10 different non-family caregivers (male and female), including multiple swim instructors. I do believe there was something not right about that one guy. He didn’t return to that class.

    Since my kids have become verbal, they have had comments about various caregivers. A few have tripped their personal “creep meters.” I respect that.

  24. Steve May 1, 2017 at 9:24 am #

    Well, come on. That puppy is really cute. Heck, I’d go off with a stranger if that puppy was the bait.

  25. James Pollock May 1, 2017 at 10:18 am #

    “SKl, no international adoptee EVER gained US citizenship simply by deplaning in the US – their parents had to apply for it. Many did not”

    That’s not why the Maslanjuk case should be troubling. If an adoptive parent didn’t bother to do paperwork at all, they KNOW that’s a problem.

    The reason Maslanjuk should be scaring people who adopted internationally is that the it is the government’s position that ANY inaccuracy in the paperwork, no matter how small, renders the citizenship application illegal. Did the adoption agency tell you the child was born on July 18 but the child was actually born on July 17, and you put July 18 in the paperwork? Did the child’s foreign birth registration list the father with the wrong middle initial? Surprise… the government’s current position is that any inaccuracy in the paperwork… any at all… renders the citizenship application illegal and they therefore claim the power to denaturalize the child and deport them. (The adoption is still legal, but the government can deport.)
    So, you followed all the rules, jumped through all the hoops, got all your ducks in a row… are you certain… absolutely 100% certain… that there were no mistakes made filling out forms? By you, or your lawyer (if you had one), or the agency that handled paperwork for you? Are you sure that no foreign official was bribed to “expedite” getting foreign paperwork completed? (Paperwork that should have been promptly approved, I mean, and was being held up specifically to to obtain a bribe. If you had to bribe the foreign official to overlook the fact that the mother of the child objected to overseas adoption, that’s a real, serious problem with the adoption.)

    Earlier this year, a number of people who had lawful permanent residency status in the U.S. were nevertheless turned away at the border crossing. Not because there was a reason to keep those people out of the country, but because of political grandstanding. Their paperwork was in order when they left the country, and it was still in order when they tried to return, but they were denied entry anyway. Is the government targeting international adoptees with their current case? No, they aren’t. But it’s important to note that they don’t always hit the targets they aim at, and only the targets they aim at, when they act. (For example, laws that target people who create and distributed child porn being applied against teenagers who exploit… themselves.)

  26. John B. May 1, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    Is this guy up to more nonsense OR is this video from the one he did a year ago? It wouldn’t open here on my work computer. Has anyone ever challenged him to his face on all his crap??

  27. SKL May 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    James, I’m not saying I agree with the US attorney’s specific language (taken out of context of course). It’s a lot more complex than “any lie will get you deported,” but I’m not going to get into that here. The point is that extending this (consequences of knowingly lying about a Very Bad Thing on your immigration papers) to a ridiculously remote “possibility” (i.e. that my kids could be deported in the future for something neither they nor I did in their immigration process) is exactly as ridiculous as saying your toddlers “could” get trafficked if you go to Ikea. Actually it is much more ridiculous. And yet this sort of talk is rampant in that group.

    [Actually they are trying to say that the US attorney’s partial clipped argument can be interpret to mean that any small FUTURE misstep could get our kids deported. Or, that even if that isn’t what it’s saying, there’s that “slippery slope” that ought to keep us up at night.]

    I have enough real life stresses to worry about. My kids’ citizenship status is the very least of my worries.

  28. James Pollock May 1, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    “Actually they are trying to say that the US attorney’s partial clipped argument can be interpret to mean that any small FUTURE misstep could get our kids deported.”

    And, as I specifically pointed out previously, that is incorrect.

    But the truth is scary enough, because (yes) the government is taking the position that it can denaturalize a naturalized citizen at any time, over ANY false statement in their citizenship paperwork, whether it was important and serious or trivial and unimportant, and even if you yourself have not done anything wrong. If it’s false, and the government can prove it, that’s grounds to denaturalize.

    The Supreme Court case that was heard last Wednesday is over a specific question: Does an error or lie in a person’s citizenship application paperwork have to be material… that is, have an effect on whether or not citizenship is ultimately granted… or does it just have to exist, in order for the government to denaturalize.

    It doesn’t matter if you agree with the Solicitor General or not, or whether you think the Maslanyuks should be deported or not. The implications of the government’s position is alarming, and it’s not hysteria to be concerned… if you are a naturalized citizen or are responsible for one.

    ” Actually it is much more ridiculous.”
    Actually, it isn’t. (At the moment).
    The consensus of the legal scholars I’ve seen weigh in, is that it’s very likely that Ms. Maslanjuk wins this case, and they read in a “materiality” requirement to the statute. This gets Mslanjuk a new trial, at which gets to try to prove that her lie wasn’t material. Mr. Maslanjuk loses that one straightaway, he forgot to mention that he was a war criminal. But Ms. Malanjuk isn’t a war criminal, her lie was about being married to one. She probably loses, but I agree with her lawyer that she deserves a chance to try.

    I happened to read the brief discussion of the case on “Lowering the Bar”, which led me to the NY Times coverage, which led me to read the full transcript of the oral argument.

    I saved this one for last.
    ” It’s a lot more complex than ‘any lie will get you deported,'”
    It’s a little bit more complex than that, but not much. Any false statement that the government can prove can be used to revoke naturalization. That’s not “any lie” because the government has to be able to prove, and it’s not “will get you deported” because it’s up to the US attorney’s discretion whether or not to pursue it, and being denaturalized doesn’t technically mean you get deported, though there’s certainly a high likelihood that the denaturalization proceeding will be followed by a deportation hearing.
    But it’s not “consequences of knowingly lying about a Very Bad Thing on your immigration papers”, either. If Maslanjuk wins, the statute is still there, it’s just that the government has to prove that your lie was material to the application being granted. Call it “consequences of lying about something that matters to your immigration status is a Very Bad Thing”. Just refer back to the jury instructions given by the trial court judge, which I quoted previously.

  29. Derek W Logue of OnceFallen.com May 1, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

    To be fair to the racist Pro-Trump prick that makes fake videos,
    (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/20/youtube-star-joey-salads-fakes-racist-pro-trump-stunt), this idiot from Arkansas claim his 16 year old daughter was lured by a puppy too (http://shiitakeweekly.blogspot.com/2017/05/akansass-dad-shelton-kitchens-posts.html).

    It is hard to decide which if these douchewagons are worse.

  30. John B. May 2, 2017 at 11:55 am #

    Basically, this guy has 0 credibility.

  31. Michelle May 10, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    I cannot stand this man. A friend of mine, last year lamented about how everyone is so helicoper and how she’d love to be free range if she didn’t fear the law interfering. Today the same woman posted one of his videos with the words “THIS is why I hover. It takes only ONE SECOND”… it’s like she doesn’t even remember why she started to hover initially, because everyone else did. It wasn’t this video either. It was the one at the playground, with the dad on his phone. Salads walked up to the kid with candy and said “Come on,let’s go” and the kid just went. He wasn’t dragged away, he just willingly climbed down the slide and went with him with even a “Hey, who are you? I don’t you” . My first thought was that kid has not been taught properly and that we know very well that most kidnappers are people the child knows. As Lenore says, it needs to be pounded into their heads to NOT go off with anyone. I do like the “family password” for children old enough to not have the password weaseled out of them.

    I do still go with my 4 year old but he goes off to play and I’m with the almost 1 year old, who really needs to be watched closely, period. My guy is loud and he’s had not going with anyone, whether he knows them or not, pounded into him. One time some other kids mom accidentally wanted to take him as he and her son were dressed the same, he SCREAMED. I don’t believe he is that unusual. I would have never gone off with anyone myself and my mother told me that when she was in Kindergarten the delivery guy always gave her a piece of candy, which she buried when he was gone because she was skeptical about it . Past generations were taught well and had common sense. Now we beat it out of them.