A Social Experiment with Kids and Strangers that Does NOT Involve Abduction Fantasies?


Kids, age 5, at the bus stop. Strangely enough, this isn’t a “social experiment” to show how endangered they are. It shows something else. Something you don’t see much of on American TV.



Yes, mom is leaving him at the bus stop alone with strangers...and a dilemma.

Yes, mom is leaving him at the bus stop alone with strangers…and a dilemma.


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43 Responses to A Social Experiment with Kids and Strangers that Does NOT Involve Abduction Fantasies?

  1. Montreal Dad July 3, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    Asking a 5 year old to wait for the bus without mom but next to a bunch of strangers? In Japan, that’s just normal…

  2. That_Susan July 3, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    That’s sweet.

  3. Peter July 3, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    I like the one who wipes the dirt off it before returning it.

  4. theresa hall July 3, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    the kids seem fine. the adults didn’t seem to notice the kids till the kids pointed out the lost wallets. unlike here the adults can talk to kids.

  5. Warren July 3, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    I would love for this to be on one of those news channels, and let them take a poll. The american public will come up with dozens of reasons why this cannot be done in the states.

    You have to love how the pride and joy the kids have being able to help an adult.

  6. George July 3, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    Oh, that’s beautiful. I hope I’ve raised my kids well enough that they’d do the same.

  7. Alanna July 3, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Yes, with all this nonsense about strangers, we have forgotten that we must also teach children good manners.

  8. Eric S July 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    A much more accurate social experiment. 😉

  9. Krystle July 3, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    This is adorable. Also shows that kids are trustworthy. 🙂

  10. Bill Kidder July 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    I’ve heard accounts from Americans going to Japan in the 90s, leaving a purse or
    wallet on a park bench, and coming back 3 hours later and finding it there, untouched.
    So to me this is more documentation on how early Japanese children are socialized
    to respect other people’s property. Keep in mind this is a country where kindergarten
    kids do basic janitorial duties in their classrooms as well.

    So much going on in this short video.

  11. James Pollock July 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    To be fair, mom left the kid at the bus top… with a hidden surveillance camera, and at least one of the people there in on it.

  12. Anna July 3, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    It’s rather cute and charming that every kid is immediately trying to figure out how to return the wallet. They’re obviously not torn between honesty and dishonesty, but just struggling to overcome their shyness and speak up.

  13. Warren July 3, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Okay James,
    First it is a bus stop, not top.

    And do you really know what the experiment was about?

  14. Puzzled July 3, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Bill – what were those adults doing in the park without a child to accompany them? They must have been perverts or kidnappers – too bad their wallets weren’t taken, which would have contained evidence. /end_sarc

  15. Helen July 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    Very sweet – I also like the little girl who dusts off the wallet before she gives it back! This video makes me realize that I’m not as free-range as I think I am – I’m only free-range by North American standards and that’s not saying much! I have the courage of my convictions when it comes to allowing my three-year-old to climb the tallest ladder at the playground without hovering over her, but if I imagine her being only two years away from this type of independence, I just can’t fathom it. Helicopter parenting has woven itself so deeply into the fabric of our society that it’s hard not to be swayed by it, even if you fight against it. I compare it to advertising – we all think we’re smart enough not to go buy something because a commercial tells us to – but it has an insidious way of affecting us anyway, even without our realizing it.

  16. James Pollock July 3, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    “Okay James,
    First it is a bus stop, not top.”

    Yes, thank you. I meant “bus stop” not “bus top” That must have been very confusing for everyone who thought I was referring to the roof of the bus rather than the place you stand and wait for the bus.

  17. Travis July 3, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    Yes! I love seeing these things, because it shows that it’s not the whole world that is as crazy as the US. In Japan the children not only go to school by themselves, but kindergartners also wear bright yellow hats that show that they are supposed to be there (that would clearly be a bad thing here, a sign that a child is alone and waiting to be kidnapped!).

    I also like that it shows that kids are not useless idiots. They saw a problem (small as it was), and reacted to it appropriately.

  18. hineata July 3, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    So cute…..

  19. Kimberly July 3, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    Is it wrong that I want to eat those kids up? How cute are they?

  20. Paul Bearer July 3, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    Japan has some serious issues with gender politics and enforced conformity, but they rarely have nationwide boats of irrational fear like we do. Paranoia is seen as paranoia.

    Also, those kids are seriously adorable.

  21. sigh July 3, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

    Oh, lovely, the one in the checked jacket looks a bit like my son did at that age. I’m going to show it to him, since he made such a fuss at age 10 when I told him to take the bus to get home by himself one day. He was arguing that someone might “kidnap” him (his other parent campaigned on that platform from day one).

    I’m assuming that all of these lovely kids were planning to TAKE the bus somewhere, not just stand there to wait for Mom to come back and get them. So there you go. Take the bus, kids.

    My daughter is going to attend a middle school next year that issues a bus pass and a YMCA membership to each kid. That’s right, my 11-year-old is EXPECTED to take public transit to get to her downtown school each day, without an adult to accompany her. Hooray.

  22. Joy N. July 4, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    I, too, loved the one where the child wiped the dirt off. 😉 In Japan, China, etc., children are taught from a very early age to respect their elders. This is sadly not the norm anymore in many American homes. People are taught to take pride in themselves and treat others w/respect at all times. I’m not saying that children don’t misbehave, but when they do, there is correction. Great experiment!!

  23. Joy N. July 4, 2015 at 12:26 am #

    I have a 16 year old young lady who does domestic work for me, as I am disabled. The other day, as she was walking home (as she’s done many times) a man in a van flung open the passenger side door and yelled at her to, “get in or I’ll shoot you!” She began running, as she was in a Fry’s (Kroger for some of you) strip mall type parking lot. She got into Fry’s safely-alerted the Security Guard….Police report filed, The police have gotten many other reports re: this guy and his partner from other teens and have been/are trying to find him. She had a cell phone on her, but didn’t even think to use it. She was too scared and her flight response took over. Kidnapping does happen. Again, I’m not a helicopter parent advocate at all. However, this incident has shaken even me up a bit. Now, her mom isn’t allowing her to walk alone. I don’t blame her.

  24. sexhysteria July 4, 2015 at 1:12 am #

    Honesty is the best policy!

  25. hineata July 4, 2015 at 2:17 am #

    @Sigh – ah, the kidnap thing. I’m on my little Big OE with Miss Knows Everything at the moment, and the other day in Barcelona she jumped on a train in the dodgy looking metro just as the doors were closing, leaving me hysterical on the platform. This being Europe, by the time the next train came along she was halfway to Syria as a bride of ISIS.

    Except that actually she just hopped off at the station we were going to, and I spent the five minutes peace I had reading. And had a good laugh when we caught up with each other.Why does anyone run for trains in these countries. …they come along all the darn time.

  26. Candice July 4, 2015 at 5:27 am #

    I live here and the age at which they can be left alone is actually grade one. The local park is full of children playing until the music that plays in each city. It changes times depending on the season. I let my last year of kindergarten boy go because he is six and it’s down the street. Right now they are having a great time playing with water guns and the shallow fountain.
    My kids for now don’t want to go back to the U.S. My older kids take public transit every day to and from school. One big reason is the total lack of freedom back there. We also live very urban so they can pop down to the combini and buy candy with money they’ve earned. And no one thinks anything of kids playing on the streets either! The quiet residential ones I mean.

  27. Jen July 4, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Wow, your young employee must have been truly terrified. Glad she knew exactly what to do — get the heck out of there!

    In response to questions about current news, we had a talk with my daughter last night — she’s more interested at this stage in what to do if she encountered a shark or bear (which to be fair, are small risks but probably statistically more likely than her being kidnapped by a human). we talked about the likelihood of being attacked, why and when an animal might attack and what to do in the unlikely event that should happen. We have the same sort of talk when it comes to human predators — although it seems to me that they prey on people for reasons entirely illogical.

    What it boiled down to is — arm yourself with knowledge, repeat said knowledge so it is ingrained in your brain when you are in a panic — and most of all, be aware of your surroundings at all times.

  28. Warren July 4, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    Glad she is mature enough and smart enough to handle herself. Sounds like a smart lady.

    I disagree with the mom. She needs to get back out there. If you allow something like this to change how you live, then you are a victim. A victim of fear. And it is something that has a bad way of getting worse. Now it is walking alone, then it is being home alone, then it is not being out after dark, and so on and so on.

    Gotta get back up on that horse.

  29. JP Merzetti July 4, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Well shucks. I got all choked up watching this.
    But then, that’s what happens when your heart is in the right place.
    And yeah, I noticed that none of the adults present grabbed a kid and made off.
    Instead, they had a bit of social interaction with a delightful child.
    Just imagine.
    What a concept.
    Probably made their day.
    Or at least brightened up their commute, um?

    What do we need to do – have a new Selma, Alabama? Some kind of “take back the world” march for the nation’s children?
    It’s their world too. Only they’re as segregated as the old pre-civil rights deep south used to be.
    Kid: Don’t look, don’t talk, don’t feel, don’t think. Just stay in your own private bubble.
    Adult: (same as above)
    End result: Strangers in the Day (and that ain’t Frankie singin’)
    (sung to the tune of “Strangers in the Schools”) Love that tune.

  30. Anna July 4, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Joy, that’s terrible, but it doesn’t have much bearing on childhood supervision. After all, a 16-year-old is usually as big and strong as an adult. If a 16-year-old can’t walk alone somewhere, can any woman? I would think, depending how common such things are in the specific neighborhood, one might decide to try to walk with a friend rather than alone, but supervision doesn’t seem like a relevant concept here.

  31. Neil M July 4, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    Joy, given what happened, I don’t think anyone blames the mom you mentioned for being jumpy about letting her daughter walk by herself. It’s natural to be fearful when fortunately rare things like that happen, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing it safe for awhile. (Peace of mind, and all that.) There *would* be a problem if that mom decided that teens walking alone anywhere, anytime, are in danger, and began to phone police at the sight of an unaccompanied teenager. The former is a very understandable, temporary reaction to a close call; the latter is an example of letting a justified fear turn into paranoia.

  32. Old Music July 4, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    Dear Lenore,

    Are you aware of the commentor ‘sex hysteria’ on this blog? I found your website today through a Guardian article, and I was happy to find it as a resource, but not so happy to see that a pedophile-apologist seems to be a regular commentor here.

    I would be interested to know if you have actually looked at their blog in any detail, and if their commenting here can be seen as tacit approval?


  33. J.T. Wenting July 4, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    In the US the kid would take the wallet and pocket any cash in it, then find some junk or gangster to sell the credit cards and ATM cards to…

  34. Warren July 4, 2015 at 11:51 pm #


    That is rather nasty. I prefer to think our young citizens would be more than happy to turn the wallet over immediately.

    Then whine and moan on social media that they were not given some huge reward for doing it.

  35. Papilio July 5, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Gentlemen, gentlemen! Selling ATM cards to junkies? Remember we’re talking about a US 5-year-old at a bus stop without a parent obsessively staring at him.
    He’d be scooped up by the police before he could even touch the friggin wallet in the first place…

  36. Paul Bearer July 5, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    Old Music,

    I just read the “sex hysteria” blog, and I fail to see any issue. He’s pointing out, with ample evidence, that societal fears of the effects of consensual intimacy between children and adults are overblown.

    Do I like his point? No. Does that make it invalid? No! Just because he’s making an unpopular point doesn’t mean he should be censored, especially when he’s backed up by data.

  37. SKL July 6, 2015 at 4:37 am #

    Last week I sent my kid to tell a guy that he’d left his car window down on a day with random intermittent downpours. She isn’t comfortable talking to strangers and I’m forcing the issue. Naturally, the adults approached under such circumstances are always encouraging. 🙂

  38. Rina Lederman July 6, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    yea i also like how she trys to clean it off. i think its so sad when the kkids try to give back the wallet but the adult “doesnt see of hear them.”

  39. Vicky July 7, 2015 at 4:44 pm #


  40. Minnie July 12, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    I feel like car culture is a big part of the lack of independence of children in the US. These kids knew how to take the bus because they had taken the bus every day with their mothers until they were ready to do so on their own. While cars are the default form if transportation in the US it is going to be hard for kids to go more than a couple of blocks by themselves.

  41. BL July 12, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    “These kids knew how to take the bus because they had taken the bus every day with their mothers until they were ready to do so on their own.”

    If cities are unwalkable and unbikeable, that’s the problem, not “car culture”. I grew up in a small town: no busses, but young ‘uns walked, ran or biked everywhere. And all the adults drove cars.

  42. Old Music July 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Dear Paul,

    ‘Sex hysteria’ is not backed up by data, the main scientific papers he cites have been discredited by other scientists.

    The papers he cites claim that “adult-child sex” (as the authors term it) does not cause harm to children – did you miss the bit in the comment thread (the post called ‘Child Sex Abuse Hysteria’) where he tells a victim of child sex abuse at age 4 that her and her sister’s mental health problems *could not* be due to the sexual abuse they experienced?

    His web-site as a whole sets multiple alarm bells ringing, the demonisation of feminists, the support for pornography (as sex education!) and prostitution (despite the fact that that the vast majority of women and children (and men) involved in the sex industry made no kind of free choice to be there, and despite the fact that the mainstream of het porn is getting more and more violent and degrading).

    There’s his obsession with massage (his sources all seem fine, but I don’t trust his individual interpretation, which read like a groomers’ manual:) encouraging kids to get naked (because massages are always naked) and fall asleep – with a ‘friend’ if their parents are too busy (perfect opportunity for an adult man to whip his dick out), and to show off their genital erections (so the adult can argue they were ‘seduced’ by the child); encouraging children to be ‘discrete’ about their massages, to avoid arousing ‘suspicion’ in other adults.

    And then there’s the obsession with the clitorises (and clitoral erections) of pre-pubescent girls – including his account of using nudist beaches as an opportunity to get a really good look at the genitals of pre-pubescent girls.

    Organisations dedicated to children’s rights always attract paedophiles, who try to ride on their coat-tails; the NAMBLA does it, PIE (Paedophile Information Exchange) in the UK did it – all claiming they were acting in the name of ‘children’s rights’, of course, while they campaigned for the drastic lowering or complete removal of age of consent laws, and claimed that “adult-child sex” was harmless.

  43. Old Music July 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    This ‘sex hysteria’ character is dodgy as hell (you can find all this via some quick google searches), he has published a book under the name Frank Adamo called ‘Real Child Safety’ ($18.02 for 66 pages on Amazon and no reviews!) which is endorsed by the ‘Foundation for Research and Education on Child Safety’ which is not an academic foundation of any legitimate kind, but a webpage copy-righted to … you guessed it, Frank Adamo! with nothing but a hotmail email address for contact info. The free poster from the website lists really obvious stuff like how shaking babies is dangerous (who knew?). The poster, for no known reason, includes a photo of a very young woman breast-feeding. The website’s front page (it’s only page apart from the free poster), is dedicated to rubbishing “supposed mental health problems in childhood.”

    His YouTube user name is ‘GirlBecomesWoman’ (bluergh).