From my mailbox:
Free-Range Kids:Â I’m currently being blasted in my local mom’s group for my questions about the events outlined in the police statement below.Yes, I agree that a 40 year old man asking a 13 year old out for coffee is weird, but are we really calling that luring now? It saddens me to read the comments my fellow moms are making like, “I don’t want any men my daughter doesn’t know talking to her!” Why? We live in a well-off Chicago suburb that is known for being safe. From what I read below, all this man did was speak to a child and he’s being treated as a dangerous criminal about to strike at any moment.ÂSure, he was weird, but being weird isn’t a crime. The girl handled it appropriately – she was creeped out and ran away. The way the authorities are acting I thought I missed a paragraph where he followed and harassed her.ÂAm I making light of a serious situation here? My daughter is only 17 months old, but my sons are 4.5 and 6, and rather than teach them to never ever speak to strangers, I teach them to trust their instincts and obviously never go off with someone they don’t know, but that generally people are good and nice. I hate that our community is jumping to the “all strangers are bad and scary!” extreme.ÂI’ve pasted the police alert below.ÂThanks! — CorinneÂ .THE ALERT:Â .On 12/13/2016 at approximatelyÂ 3:00 pm, the Westmont Police Department received a report of an alleged child luring incident in the area of 55th and Wilmette. A thirteen year old female told police she was walking home from her bus stop, when an older male driving a beige four door vehicle pulled up next to her and asked if she wanted to get a cup of coffee.Â The student said no and ran home. Â Â
The male was described as a white male in his 40’s, dark hair, unshaven, wearing a tan plaid shirt. Â
The Westmont Police Department is currently investigating this incident, and at this time we have received only one call regarding this subject.Â We are asking if anyone sees this vehicle or individual to call us atÂ 630-981-6300.Â You can also call 911 if you believe you have seen the person matching this description.
Please speak to your kids about talking to strangers, and stress to them it is important to let you know if they are ever approached by a suspicious person. Â
I wrote back to Corinne that it sounds like the 40-year-old isÂ weird, or maybe wildly optimistic, and the girl clearly did the right thing by not getting into his car. And I Â didn’t even mind the cops making the basic announcement of what just happened. But that’s it. It’s not attempted luring to ask someone out. It’s asking someone out.Â
I’d add that when my friend’s daughter was 13, she looked like a Vogue cover model. So it’s possible the guy got the age wrong but was still mildly off-base.
Then Corinne wrote me back to say that someone had posted under her “don’t freak out” comments to say: “I hope one day no man ever asks your children to coffee.” Wrote Corrine (to me):
Â The subtle, passive aggressive comment that implies that I’m a bad parent because I don’t assume everyone is out to kidnap my children, as nice as they are. If you don’t jump to these wild conclusions you’re apparently being a bad parent.
A few weeks ago we got a robo call from our school about a “stranger danger” incident AND an alert from our police department about an attempted “luring” at a local party store. 2 kids reported being followed out of the store by a stranger, went home and told their parents, who called the police.
One of the kids dropped his wallet and the man, who is a store regular, was trying to return it.
Of course, that part of the news didn’t get spread as far as the headline grabbing stranger danger, so the damage was done
When I was thirteen, i would have found it a little freaky if a 40yo asked me out for coffee .
Hot chocolate, though…
The reaction should be to this event: it is important to teacher our kids to know what to do in weird situations. This kiddo did the right thing. I do think it is luring when you invite a child – you are trying to lure a child into your car and the public should know someone is out there doing that. This does not equal don’t talk to strangers. As Lenore says in her talks no rational adult ask a child to help find their puppy – let’s just add or out to coffee. But if they say hi (like I do to people we pass on the street) that is okay. It is okay for them to say have you seen my dog (which I have done when my dog got out) which is different then can you come help me.
How about the part in the Police Alert that says “…we have received only one call regarding this subject. “?
Did they ever get anymore calls or do we only have this 13 year old’s word on it?
â€œI hope one day no man ever asks your children to coffee.â€ Is there an expiration date to this statement? Otherwise it sounds like she doesn’t want her children to ever date. Or maybe she was being really mean, and is literally saying she hopes the other woman’s children never get asked out.
I agree with Nicole. It IS luring – “Come with me and I’ll give you a treat.” But it certainly does not mean ALL strangers are out to pounce.
One thing I’m curious about: Do 13-yr-olds in that area commonly drink coffee? Because I would have thought the guy would have offered her a soda or hot chocolate, if he knew how young she was. The fact that he offered her coffee make me wonder (and hope) that he thought she was much older.
(Although if a man my own age pulled up beside me and wanted to take me out for coffee, expecting me to get into his car, I would find that creepy, too!)
I think it actually is a possible luring–at least if we go by the definition used in Washington state. Persuading a kid to get into a car or perhaps certain other enclosed spaces, if done by someone not known to the minor, is under some circumstances considered “luring.” Asking a person to join you in a public place or to go to a public place with unlocked exits is not luring. In the RCW, luring also includes having the intent that your successful temporary whatever with the kid will facilitate a crime.
So, if the parents of the kid have both been killed or hospitalized and you are a friend of them and not known to the kid, you may in fact pick up the kid to help the kid.
Now, it is also true that there are 5 to 10% of the girls who are 12-15 who, especially when going to a concert or dancing or even some sporting events or conventions or parties, look like they are 20.
Most girls who are younger and who look like they are 20 are not wearing that look merely for a day at middle school or high school–or middle school and high school would have been more memorable.
A “girl” in a school uniform could be anyone of age 12 to 24, unless you know the source of the uniform and if we assume that the girl has the uniform because she attends the school of the source.
But in a line in front of certain theatres and dancing places about to open for the night, or in the vicinity of some parties and dancing places, then, yes, you can easily mistake the age of a person, if you are going by appearance alone and the girl has chosen to look mature.
My question in these cases is always – what exactly do the police intend to do if they find him? Asking someone for coffee is not a crime. Talking to a minor is not a crime. There is no crime of “attempted luring.” You’d need a whole helluva lot more facts to get to attempted kidnapping.
We don’t even know if the guy was weird, just bold. I know 13 year olds who would easily pass for college age. I had a 13 year old client this week who is 6 feet tall. If the age of the guy came from the 13 year old, it could be way off on the guy too.
Did anyone consider that the description by a 13 year old girl of the man, “in his 40’s,” easily could have been off by 10 or 20 years?
I am not saying it’s not odd. It IS odd for ANYONE of any age to invite anyone of any age to go have coffee (or any beverage) FROM A CAR.
My only point is that, if the girl looked older than her age and the “man” was in his 20s or even older, he might have been a man between 19 and 40. Have you ever watched college sports and thought some of those “boys” look like grown men (some balding, some very tall and/or very large, with very mature faces, beards, etc.)?
I don’t know the legal definition of luring, but I would find it creepy if a man in a car pulled up by me on a sidewalk and asked me to go for coffee. That doesn’t mean he has any bad intent or that he’s done anything wrong. It would just feel a bit too uncomfortable to me. As a child of course it would have been much scarier. I just don’t think that is the right circumstance to “ask for a date” if that’s what he was doing. I don’t mean to say I believe he had bad intentions. I have no idea. He could have been a man seeing a young woman he liked the look of and not realizing she was 13 he asked her out. That’s not a crime and shouldn’t be reported as one. But I think it should be noted for the record. Later, if a bunch more calls come in of a man cruising up and down asking only underage girls for coffee they will start to be on more of an alert.
I don’t know whether she sees it as an overreaction because of the word “luring” or because police are out looking for him. And we don’t know what the 13 year old looks like. At 13 I was 5’9″ and I was routinely asked for my (alcoholic) drink order in restaurants when out with my older cousins. I was also asked out by several much older men who were shocked when I told them my age.
” Is there an expiration date to this statement? Otherwise it sounds like she doesnâ€™t want her children to ever date.”
They’re going to be children forever, don’t you know?
Yesterday, my 14 year old was offered a ride home from school from her classmate’s dad, a friend of the family. At first she didn’t recognize him in his hat and sunglasses, and said she was creeped out by some random guy offering her a ride.
I shrugged and told her, even if it was someone we don’t know, you can simply say, “No, thank you.” Just like if it’s someone we do know and you don’t want to accept the ride, you can also say “No, thank you.”
This is where your blog gets a bad rap and discredited. Absolutely that girl did the right thing and ran home. Check in my friends who operate Operation Underground Railroad where they rescue child sex slaves. This is EXACTLY the horrific thing in our now Porn-ified world that leads to all kinds of sordid stuff. Horrible stuff people never recover from. Seriously look at their website or better yet call them up.
Their true stories will curl your hair. Girls being snatched from their million dollar homes after hosting teen parties and being away for a year as a sex slave. How could that happen? I asked. I was shocked to hear how easily.
I am with you on a lot of your observations and the things you report as outrageous but this is definitely NOT one of them.
By not seeing the obvious you are written off by many. This is obvious.
Well, I know a number of 13 and 14 years old’s who could easily pass for 18. They spend hours with makeup hair and clothing to try to look older and they succeed. Their mothers praise they’re actions and encourage it. (It totally boggles my mind. They don’t see any issue with it whatsoever.) And I just looked, the age of consent in Illinois is 17 so if she looked older, there’s that. He didn’t ask her age did he?
Aside from all that, this was blown out of proportion. It wasn’t a child and he didn’t press the issue with the teen. If anything it helps her be more prepared for any creeps and annoying jerks who most likely be bothering her in the future.
Not at 13, but certainly at 14 and 15 I was mistaken for much older, so this could have been nothing more than a very clumsy offer of a (normal) date.
And now that I work with kids, I can tell you they often have NO CLUE how old a particular adult is. I’ve had kids guess my age anywhere from 20-60. Teenagers are a little better, but basically they think in categories of “my age”, “older sibling”, “old like mom”, or “old like grandma”.
This is not necessarily totally innocent, but also not necessarily child sex trafficking.
I read an article this morning about a clothing company that was manufacturing children’s pajama bottoms with patterns of marijuana leaves on them. I guess since the legalization of pot in some states, clothing with marijuana leaf patterns is somewhat popular. Well, as you might expect, the outcry was deafening. Many of your anti-pot organizations were calling it “child abuse” and because of that were working hard to get them off the market. But most of the people commenting on the article in the blog below thought it was a big stretch calling it “child abuse” and I agree whole heartedly with that assessment. You can call it distasteful but calling it “child abuse” is insulting to children who endured authentic cases of child abuse such as beatings resulting in permanent scars, penetrable type of sexual abuse, being locked in a closet for days at a time, etc. But since everything nowadays is considered “child abuse” apparently it’s becoming confusing for some people to discern what true child abuse really is. Basically if a parent has heartburn over children’s pajamas patterned with marijuana leaves, THEN DON’T BUY THEM FOR YOUR KID!!!!!!!!
I guess it’s the same thing with using the term “luring” about a stranger asking a kid out for a cup of coffee. Now I would NEVER drive up to a kid I don’t know and ask him or her to join me for a cup of coffee and it does seem weird but it doesn’t necessarily mean the person had ill intentions. Like anything, you’d have to know the context behind it all. If ill intentions were not meant, the guy was not “luring” the kid.
My impression was that it was a socially awkward person who probably failed to properly judge the girl’s age. It’s not normal to ask someone to coffee from a car. But, and this might be just my local culture, who asks tweens out to coffee? Do kids that age normally drink coffee? That makes me think he probably thought she was older.
Girl responded correctly, but social media, at least, is blowing it out proportion.
Guy-creepiness aside, I have to agree that if he was asking her to coffee, she may have looked much older than 13. I have a niece who from a very early age was allowed to dress sexy and wear makeup. Add to that the fact that she was tall for her age and developed early, and she looked MUCH older than she was. I personally felt her parents should have made her tone down the clothes and makeup, but that’s their call, not mine.
Anyway, her grandmother relayed a story to us one day about how she was with my niece in a restaurant for lunch and a table full of college aged guys near them couldn’t keep their eyes off her. It was apparently very obvious. So grandma marched over to that table and told them, loudly, in the middle of the restaurant, to stop undressing her granddaughter with their eyes, she is only 11 years old! The guys were embarrassed and said sorry, they thought she was college age. Grandma told them they were stupid if they couldn’t tell the difference between an 11 year old and a college girl.
Upon hearing this story, I said that I could understand the mistake. I said that if I didn’t know her, I would never guess that she’s only 11, with the mature clothes and makeup. I might not guess college aged, but certainly late teens, and old enough for a young college guy to be interested.
You can probably imagine how that went over… LOL
Mary: Nowhere in this blog, *anywhere* will you find someone saying that running home when someone creeps you out is wrong. In fact, that’s what we recommend, using your built-in skills to assess the situation, and acting accordingly. What this blog is *not* going to suggest is a blanket “Don’t even *talk* to strangers” because in an emergency, you’re likely to be surrounded by strangers who could help.
When everyone starts assuming that any interaction between a child and an adult is dangerous, how long is it until you need to have photo ID visible at all times so that you are allowed to interact with your child, but ONLY your child and only that until you do something that some other parent disagrees with.
If anyone should be taken out for coffee, it’s me. My kids don’t even like coffee and I’m highly depressed by this.
We can quibble over “attempted luring”, but this incident is *highly* creepy. I don’t care if this guy thought she was 35. You simply don’t, repeat, don’t pull up next to a strange girl or woman or, hell, human being and invite them to get into your car to go for coffee. Any man who doesn’t know this scares me. Any man who knows this but who does it anyway scares me. Maybe no crime was committed, but I for one am happy to hear that the police would like to talk to this guy. At the very least, they could explain to him what he did wrong. And, who knows, they may find out something more about this guy.
A 40 year old male, whom the girl didn’t know, pulling up beside her and asking her to go for coffee isn’t a crime. However, it is out of the ordinary, and it would raise flags for me. I’m pretty liberal with my kids. But even this would raise my eye brow. Even back in the day where parenting was actually normal, this still wouldn’t be. Maybe if he was already at the cafe, and the girl was already there, then paid for hot drink. Then moved on. But not pulling up beside her in the his car and asking her out.
But, I wouldn’t be freaking out. Had she been my kid, she did the right thing by saying no, and running away. That is some of the things I teach mine. So I never worry about them making bad decisions, at least in those situations. I think parents should be focusing more on how well the girl handled herself, and to teach their own kids the same things. And not go on a witch hunt. The cops are aware, and have a description. And nothing else happened. Leave at that. Carry on. Don’t panic.
In California, if I recall correctly, luring is “persuading, or attempting to persuade, someone who is under 14 to go anywhere other than where their parent or guardian believes them to be.”
So, this behavior seems to meet that definition, regardless of the apparent age of the girl. In Illinois, who knows?
If this just represents social awkwardness, I’d say it’s social awkwardness on steroids.
YES!!! I had the same thought. I know that my 14yo is TERRIBLE at gauging the age of adults that she meets. She just kinds lumps most of them into either like mom and dad (mid 40s) or like grandma (65-75). And once kids hit a certain point of puberty (and 13 for a girl is a reasonable age), they become somewhat lumped in a high school through college age range from an adult perspective.
If the event actually happened as the girl described it, the really weird thing about this guy is he seemed to be totally unaware of the mass hysteria over stranger danger that currently gives people an excuse for a witch hunt.
You simply donâ€™t, repeat, donâ€™t pull up next to a strange girl or woman or, hell, human being and invite them to get into your car to go for coffee. Any man who doesnâ€™t know this scares me. Any man who knows this but who does it anyway scares me. Maybe no crime was committed, but I for one am happy to hear that the police would like to talk to this guy. At the very least, they could explain to him what he did wrong. And, who knows, they may find out something more about this guy.
People invite strangers into cars all the time! A stranger pulled up next to me on the street and offered me a ride. I accepted and he drove me to my destination. I have done the same: pulled up and offered a ride to a stranger. I don’t see how an offer of coffee raises more suspicion than offering a ride. I was an adult, as were the strangers I offered rides to, so that’s a little different from offering a ride or a coffee to a 13yo…but NONE of those scenarios come even close to criminal behavior. Why would someone call the cops to “find out something more about this guy” if there was no crime?
My daughter came home from a date with a guy who exhibited some very odd behavior. She told me she was uncomfortable with it, and then she told me how she dealt with it. She managed to extricate herself from the date without even being rude. We talked a little about how to handle creepy situations and that was the end of it. We didn’t call the cops to find out more about this guy.
There is no rule against offering rides/coffee to strangers, not even children. Parents ought to have rules for their kids about what kinds of offers they can accept from strangers but the onus is on the parents to teach kids how to decide what to do. We can’t just go around sending police after people who do the unexpected. Social standards (and laws!) ought not be built around the comfort level of the most paranoid among us.
Pffft, that’s nothing. In my mom’s group, someone was horrified to see a child ask an adult to help them cross a busy street. Another poster replied “but what if the man offered her candy, and then grabbed her arm and shoved her into a car? She would end up getting raped and maybe even killed!”
Yeah, in broad daylight, crossing a busy street. Therefore, no child should be allowed to walk to school, ever, under any circumstances. Otherwise, you are a neglectful parent and don’t love your children.
There is not enough *eyeroll* for this. Lenore, you know which board I’m talking about. 😉 Mass hysteria, camouflaged as virtue signalling, wrapped up in parental smugness. *barf!*
First, I have a 13 year-old daughter. She, like most of her friends, are growing, beautiful, and could pass off as older than their age.
We do our children NO FAVORS by not teaching them the *how* to address ANY unwanted attention at any age. People are going to talk to them, male and female. They need to have a creeper sense and listen to it. It may be people they know well. It is not often someone in a random car, who can easily be told “not interested” or if escalated, given a more terse response. Escalating every unwanted encounter to creeper level takes away the seriousness of the real creeper encounters.
Without knowing the circumstances it’s impossible to say what was going on in Coffee Man’s head. Did he mistake her for someone else? Was she mature-looking for her age? When I was thirteen I could pass for eighteen.
Not that it’s okay for random older guys to ask eighteen-year-olds if they want to go for coffee, but it’s better than being catcalled.
This seems like an overreaction.
“Speak to your kids about talking to strangers”.
Looks like this kid set up a business doing just that:
In other groups where I’ve been one of the lone voices of reason, I’ve had people comment that they hope my child(ren) is/are kidnapped some day and no one cares so that I can know the pain.
Talking to other can be scary to some people. This can be the case at any age. (even 40) Face to face contact is intimidating. This why Facebook is so popular. Pets have increased dramatically as well. I’m not talking about the population of animals, I’m talking about the increase of ‘fur babies’. Not everybody is that extreme. However people have gotten MUCH closer to pets. Dogs and cats don’t judge you. People feel much more comfortable when are around someone that won’t judge them. Even Hitler’s dog thought that he was the best thing in the world!
Alas, this is also a reason why some adults would rather talk to children instead of someone closer to their age. Perhaps that isn’t applicable in this case. A 13 year old is certainly old enough to judge others.
As children grow up without developing social skills, they become adults without social skills. If they happen to be male, they’re a concern. If they also own a white van, all bets are off.
Is anyone else thinking that the girl might have got the age wrong? Kids aren’t always a good judge of age, so this guy could have been in his late 20s, and he might have thought she was 18. Just a thought, because I’m sure he didn’t announce his age to her. It may be a little immature, but a man in his late 20s asking someone who they thought is 18 out doesn’t sound that crazy. Who knows.
We went to visit my daughter’s friend, who was 12, and living with her mother and step father on college campus family housing. She had a pair of jeans that she had taken a Sharpie to and written on the rear “I AM 12!” She looked much older, even without make up. She regularly got mistaken for a much older student and this was her method of coping with unwanted attention on her way to and from school when she had to walk across campus.
Sounds like this 13 year old did the right thing. The adult…not the best way to meet people unless you like talking to cops.
Yocheved, your story of crossing the street reminded me of just yesterday, leaving our Homeschool Partnership school. Kids k-12 go there. Normally, with elementary, there is a crossing guard out when the little kids get out of class. But…there were a couple of kids whose parents were late. They drove up to the pick up lane. It was cold, it was icy, many of these moms of younger kids have babies, and I understand that they would not want to walk with them across the ice.
So, I am trying to get out the door, and there are two kids, two cars and the secretary who normally does not handle this. Kinder or 1st grade kids. The door opened, the boy started out, the secretary pulled him back in. The mother saw, and honked her horn. Secretary told me she didn’t want the kid walking that far to the car alone. (In other words, she wanted the mother to get out of the car and come get him.) I reminded her that kids in the regular school, about 300 yards behind our school, WALK to school AND home, every day! I thought this kid could walk 30 feet to his mother’s car. At this time of year…the kids know the routine after class. She let him walk to the car, but gave me a dirty look.
No doubt I will be on the secretary’s $hit list now. Oh well. As long as my 6th grade son gets his bus pass and can ride the public transit to the public library when I am running late, it is just fine! And I am glad that the mom did not have to park and get out the car!
Mike brought up a good point. How accurate was she about estimating his age? I’ve also seen 13 year olds that look 18.
The McMartin trial also comes to mind. Preschoolers say all kinds of things. People tend to say what others want to hear. I wonder if this girl exaggerated a bit when she estimated his age.
Did she look 13? And how accurate was her guess that the guy was 40? I’m guessing there was just a bad guess about age, possibly on both sides.
But I do agree with the advice that kids should know to tell their parents about stuff that feels creepy. Then hopefully the parents are rational about what to do about it.
My 10yo recently got a cell phone, and she gets calls from unknown callers. She doesn’t answer if it’s not someone in her contact list. However, a couple times I answered in order to say “wrong number.” Whoever was on the other end acted strange, but hopefully won’t call again. My kid also gets text messages with “rewards” from some game she has on her phone. I don’t know what that’s about, but I don’t like it if her phone number is out there in connection with some kid’s game. (She says she never gives it out, but there’s obviously some connection.)
In my area, there has been a real problem with human trafficking – not snatching kids off the street, but connecting with them on kids’ sites and inciting them to leave home, ultimately to be taken elsewhere for work in the sex industry (though the kids don’t know that last part until it’s too late). Unfortunately I do think we have to talk to our kids about adults who exhibit a strange interest in children.
On the one hand, asking someone for coffee (presumably, in a commercial establishment dedicated to the purpose of coffee sales and on-premises consumption) is not particularly troubling in an of itself, if the suggestion was “get in my car and we’ll drive there”, then yes, you might have a case of “luring”, just the same as if the child was asked to get in the unmarked white van to help look for a lost puppy.
Not getting in the vehicle of someone you don’t know is probably good advice, even if a lot of the time it just saves you from having to exchange small talk while a stranger gives you a ride to someplace closer to where you wanted to be. The reward for correctly identifying a non-threat is much smaller than the risk inherent in incorrectly identifying a real threat as not-a-threat.
“My question in these cases is always â€“ what exactly do the police intend to do if they find him? Asking someone for coffee is not a crime. Talking to a minor is not a crime. There is no crime of â€œattempted luring.â€ Youâ€™d need a whole helluva lot more facts to get to attempted kidnapping.”
They plan a Terry stop. They can stop him and investigate whether or not he is intending to pursue an actual crime. Casing a retail establishment is also not actually a crime; robbing one is. A cop can stop someone who is casing the joint to determine if, in fact, they are planning on robbing it. They can stop people who are asking children to get in their cars where they are planning on taking any that actually get into the car.
(In either case, the goal is to prevent the crime from happening before it happens, on the theory that a person caught casing a store, who was planning on robbing that store, will make other plans, and ditto for a person who was driving on residential streets, asking children to get into the car, who was planning to taking a child to a secluded place to molest them.)
Surely we agree that actually preventing crime is both part of a cop’s job, and justifiable use of their time.
“Not that itâ€™s okay for random older guys to ask eighteen-year-olds if they want to go for coffee…”
Um… why not?
This probably is luring or at least potentially dangerous no matter what age the guy thought the girl was. However these reactions are the way of things now â€œI hope one day no man ever asks your children to coffee.â€
The knee-jerk, non-circumspect, lynch-mob mentality is the standard now and I expect that to grow in this political climate. You are likely to be shamed for questioning it.
An online mom warned all the local neighborhoods of two solicitors being pushy, actually opening her door, wanting to come in to use the bathroom. She was sure they were thieves. People went nuts, even threatening violence. Even though a dozen more people confirmed pairs of people soliciting for the same cause nearby at the same time, the poster and mob could not be talked down. They wouldn’t accept that this person just needed the bathroom, or that someone simply colored outside the lines and opened a door (perhaps to leave a brochure? ) Replies to those who said it was probably normal were similar to what you described: outrage, shaming, derision.
Here’s a tangent. There is a widespread mob-mentality, just waiting for a lame excuse to erupt, that can be switched on for mass violence if the right message is conveyed. Think Nov. 9, 1938. I don’t see much difference. Sorry, but that’s how I feel. The target could be anyone.
We need to retrain society to question messages of hate and treat them with suspicion and restraint. If someone is teaching hate and fear, they have an agenda.
Everybody is so certain that this guy was trying to pick up a stranger. Based on the extremely few facts that we know, this guy easily could havebeen trying to pick up a person he knew. Am I truly the only one here who has seen a friend from across the room, only to realize, when I got up close, that it is not my friend at all, but a complete stranger?
This guy could have been attempting to ask his wife – who has the same coat and basic build of this girl – out for coffee, realized it was not her when she turned around, but she ran off before he could apologize and explain his mistake.
“They plan a Terry stop.”
A Terry stop requires a belief that a crime is CURRENTLY afoot. The person is stopped when he is actually acting in a suspicious manner, not several days later. A Terry stop does not involve writing an article in the paper about a non-crime, asking for information about the identity of this person who has not committed a crime and then going to his house to interview him about this non-crime.
I asked my teens this morning what they thought of this, and both agreed he probably thought she was older, and she probably upped the age of the driver. Both agreed a random person asking you to go somewhere with them, from a car, is definitely on their creeper radar.
My daughter chimed in, about the coffee- “Maybe he though she was cold (and needing a hot beverage) if she was walking without a coat”. We are in a polar vortex here, and both teens still won’t wear their lovely winter coats. Still wearing hoodies and fleece and shivering, like idiots. At least the youngest still wears a jacket…
Hopefully no one stops them to ask them if they want coffee on their way to school (hint: they prefer hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows).
“Absolutely that girl did the right thing and ran home”
No one anywhere, ever, and especially not Lenore, said that the girl did the wrong thing. Reading Is Fundamental.
“A Terry stop requires a belief that a crime is CURRENTLY afoot. The person is stopped when he is actually acting in a suspicious manner”
Really? There was no crime “currently afoot” when Mr. Terry was stopped.
Two of my daughter’s friends (13 year-old girls) had a parent report one of these *encounters* on social media and called the police as well. It made my daughter furious. What was a man asking the girls from a car, “Did you call an Uber ride?” was reported as a suspected luring, and one of the girls told my daughter, “I could have died” in school after the encounter. It turned local police on patrol for suspicious cars that matched the vague vehicle description (except the man who asked the girls for a ride was a minority in our mostly white community).
It’s amazing how a few lines on Facebook draw out the pitchforks.
Mary, take your victim propaganda elsewhere. The problem with the victim cult is that folks like you aren’t content to drink your own kool-aid, you feel the need to spike our drinks with it too.
Donna December 16, 2016 at 8:17 am # wrote (boldface emphasis mine):
Thanks for that explanation. The reasonable suspicion that a crime is being presently committed does not mean that a crime is necessarily actually being committed, but that the officer has a reasonable basis to believe that a crime is being committed. A reasonable suspicion is articulable, and based upon factual observations, not an inexplicable “gut feeling” or knee jerk objection to the subject’s appearance or activity.
In, Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), for which the “Terry stop” is named, the officer articulated the basis for his suspicion that a crime was afoot, based upon facts that he observed.
“He looked like a creep to me” is not a reasonable suspicion.
“You are walking by the road. A vehicle suddenly stops next to you and the door opens. From within, someone is pointing a gun directly at you, demanding that you get in.”
Advice is to run away. The risk of being shot is less than the almost certain death that will come from entering the car. Incentives are against shooting you, which would cause unwanted attention for no gain. After abduction, the incentives are all for killing you.
The situation of the post did not involve guns, but the dangers are the same. Entering a car ends almost all of your options short of a fight. The door handle may have been disabled. It is the equivalent of following a stranger down an alley to a basement.
The man or woman in the car may be only stupid and innocent, but you can’t bet on it. Invitation by a stranger into a car is luring.
James Pollock –
Yes. In Terry, the police believed that Terry and his buddies were casing a store RIGHT THEN – the suspicious behavior was seen by the police simultaneous with the stop. THAT is a Terry stop. A Terry stop is not police going to someone’s house to ask them about some behavior a week earlier that may have been considered suspicious at the time, but was not followed by any crime.
@Andrew, again, no one, especially Lenore, ever said that the girl should have gotten in the car.
Agree with Mary, this IS luring. Lumping this news with articles on being free range does a disservice to your blog.
And blaming the kid for getting the guy’s age wrong is beside the point.
“this IS luring”
I disagree. This is worst first thinking and hysteria. This attitude perpetuates. I.E. the sensitivity of the panic button increases. It becomes more sensitive every year and has done so for generations. Inheritance isn’t exclusive to bank accounts, hair colour, or shoe size. Anxiety is very often a learned trait.
Creeps are not the only danger. As a telephone councillor for a crises relief hotline, I have seen many problems. (Including suicide and domestic violence) Anxiety is the underling cause of most of them.
I just posted an argument to Mary and Carr. The next blog is an excellent example of how an over sensitive panic button is a danger that FAR outweighs the 1 in a million cases of sex slaves. (or 1 in 100 if you believe the show ‘CSI’)
Also, this isn’t Malaysia. Therefore I don’t think it’s accurate to use Malaysian statistics and say that the US statistics are the same. I’ll admit, the US imports them (unfortunately) but the US kids don’t become sex slaves anywhere near as often as they do in Malaysia.
(However, it sells lots of newspapers and is great click bait)
“Yes. In Terry, the police believed that Terry and his buddies were casing a store RIGHT THEN â€“ the suspicious behavior was seen by the police simultaneous with the stop.”
Read it again… you seem hazy on the fact pattern. The cop observed two men acting suspiciously, and then followed them to a different location where they met up with a third man, and all three were then stopped.
The cop did not observe anyone breaking any law. The cop did not believe that he had observed a crime in progress, and, when Terry was stopped, the crime the cop suspected (which was not the crime Terry was charged with and convicted of) could not have been imminent… the men had moved on to a new location.
“‘He looked like a creep to me’ is not a reasonable suspicion.”
No. But “he tried to get me into his car, and I am very clearly a minor” might be, depending on other factors not disclosed to us.
The other name for a “Terry stop” is “investigative stop”. If a police officer has probable cause (look up the legal definition of that one) that a crime has been committed, they may arrest a person and hold them involuntarily until that person is formally charged with a crime (there’s a time limit for that). An investigative stop has a lower threshold… reasonable suspicion is easier to come by than probable cause… but it also has a shorter time limit… An investigative stop ends when the investigation reveals that there is no crime.
So if the cops DO locate the right guy, and pull him over in a Terry stop, their right to detain him starts as soon as they can articulate a reasonable suspicion that the guy is up to no good, and ends as soon as the investigation shows that there is no crime nor intention to commit a crime.
Again, this is a good thing. If a cop shows up while someone is preparing to commit a crime, and starts questioning them about what they are doing and why, it is likely that the would-be criminal will suddenly recall an important errand, elsewhere, and abandon the crime they were contemplating. This is cheaper to society, on many levels, than having the cop wait until a crime has been committed and then trying to capture the criminal. (which is not to say that there can’t be abuses of the power… see, for example, “driving while black” or “driving while Hispanic”… but those are training issues rather than flaws in the system.
“Read it againâ€¦ you seem hazy on the fact pattern.”
Read your own description of the fact pattern. You describe a scenario that is exactly what I described – suspicious behavior that was ongoing at the time that the police conducted the stop. Terry didn’t act suspicious on Tuesday, only to have the police stop him on Friday to ask about his suspicious behavior back on Tuesday.
“the crime the cop suspected (which was not the crime Terry was charged with and convicted of) could not have been imminentâ€¦ the men had moved on to a new location.”
That doesn’t even make sense. There is nothing in Terry that indicates that anyone – the Supreme Court or the police – believed that the behavior stopped being suspicious when Terry changed locations. In fact, it was the change in location to again meet up with the 3rd guy that heighten the suspicion to the point that the officer felt that he had to chat them up.
Any interaction between this guy and the police at this point based on this information is a first tier police-citizen encounter, not a Terry stop. Should the police identify him, they can certainly go to him and ask him about his behavior on 12/13, just like police can talk to any person about any subject whatsoever. But he is not obligated to respond to the police in any way. They cannot detain him. They are limited to voluntary conversations.
But whether they could detain him was never my point. I fully understand that if they identify him, they will go talk to him. And? I suppose, as with any person they talk to, they could luck into discovering a completely unrelated crime, but otherwise it is a completely frivolous activity. The possible potential crime has already been abandoned (or thwarted). They can’t arrest him for anything. They have no basis to legally bar him from the area or even from talking to the girl again. I guess that they could tell him that he can’t ask minors for coffee any more, but that would be a completely unenforceable directive.
Domestic violence and low/nill self confidence almost always go hand it hand. Granted, you can have a confidence problem without a problem with DV. However, when you see a DV problem, low/nill self confidence is usually close by.
Bear with me. this is an over simplified version of it. I also apologise for the stereotype.
The control freak male is insecure. She is his life support. Life without her is terribly scary. If only she would get it though her thick skull, just how much he loves her, he wouldn’t have to beat the $hit out of her! However she keeps staying because she loves the honeymoon phase of the make up after the fight. She’s also just as dependent on him for emotional support. Another problem is that she sometimes thinks that doesn’t deserve a better partner.
Eventually she has enough and leaves. When violence and intimidation stops working, he may scream, cry, and slobber on her shoes for her to forgive him. Often this isn’t an act. However it usually looks that way when she come back and he starts hitting her again!
I often think about this when helicopter parents become so focused on a small, non existing, or ‘what if scenarios’ that they act as though this is the danger that exists! Low confidence/self worth attracts domestic violence the same as spilled sugar attracts ants!
Sorry I meant to say:
they act as though this is the ONLY danger that exists!
“Read your own description of the fact pattern. You describe a scenario that is exactly what I described â€“ suspicious behavior that was ongoing at the time that the police conducted the stop.”
They were acting like they were casing the joint (which is what got the cop’s attention.)
Then they STOP casing the joint and go somewhere else.
So, in your world, it’s ongoing suspicious behavior to walk away from a business?
“That doesnâ€™t even make sense. There is nothing in Terry that indicates that anyone â€“ the Supreme Court or the police â€“ believed that the behavior stopped being suspicious when Terry changed locations.”
Most people consider it fairly difficult to rob a store from, well, a completely different place. Now, if they rejoined their compatriot and RETURNED to the store they’d been casing, that would be one thing. But… is that what happened? (Hint: no).
Thus, you get my point. Terry and his associates acted suspiciously, which, I assume, would justify their being stopped then and there.
But then they leave.
Several blocks away, the officer makes an investigatory stop, in the belief that, although they are no longer suspiciously walking up and down and looking into the window of a store, they still might be considering a crime at an unspecified future time. While they were stopped so the officer could investigate their intentions, suspicion elevated to probable cause that another, different crime was being committed, and the officer arrested them for that crime. The store the men had been acting suspiciously in front of was never robbed by these men.
The police had no evidence of an actual crime until AFTER the men had been stopped.
“Terry didnâ€™t act suspicious on Tuesday, only to have the police stop him on Friday to ask about his suspicious behavior back on Tuesday.”
No, he acted suspicious at point A, only to have the police stop him at point B to ask about his suspicious behavior back at point A.
An analog is when the police stop a car because it matches the description of a car that left the scene of a crime. Cops can make a Terry stop of that vehicle, long enough to determine if it is or is not the car that actually left the scene of the crime, and if it IS the car that left the scene of the crime, if the occupants were involved in it. But… and this is the point… the cops can also do that if they have a reasonable suspicion that the car left the scene where a crime was intended but was not carried out. Gang task force cops, for example, go to great lengths to locate cars that they think contain rival gang members after any incident of gang violence. Not because the carloads of gang members have committed many crimes, but because police reasonably suspect that an attack of gang A on gang B just possibly might be followed up by an attack of gang B on gang A.
If you want to attack this, you need to show that it’s unreasonable to suspect that a crime was contemplated. There just isn’t enough information available to tell for sure But there is the possibility of an inchoate crime here, that won’t go away just because the reported behavior isn’t in itself criminal. None of the behavior reported by the officer in the Terry case, before the suspects were stopped, was criminal. The actual criminal act, CCW, wasn’t detected until AFTER the men were (lawfully) stopped.
Donna December 16, 2016 at 10:44 pm #:
Exactly. As CJ Earl Warren summarized the facts in Terry:
Two words that might help you assess your present dialog: Irving Kanarek. But with neither his charm nor experience actually practicing law.
Um no, donald, this has nothing to do with any panic button. This is common sense. Ask any female, regardless of age if they would get into a complete stranger’s car to “go for a coffee”.
I teach my kids to go out in the world by themselves since they were little, but also to trust their instincts first.
“No, he acted suspicious at point A, only to have the police stop him at point B to ask about his suspicious behavior back at point A.”
No, he acted suspicious at both points A and B, and the police questioned him about his suspicious behavior in total, not about a subset of his suspicious behavior.
“An analog is when the police stop a car because it matches the description of a car that left the scene of a crime.”
Not even an analog. The police pulled over a car that matches the description of a car that LEFT THE SCENE OF AN ACTUAL CRIME, not the scene of completely legal behavior that seemed odd at the time but is now over and, in fact, has been over for several days with no ensuing crime to be investigated.
“Two words that might help you assess your present dialog: Irving Kanarek. But with neither his charm nor experience actually practicing law.”
My present dialog with James can best be described as a debate with a perpetual law student – someone who has a very basic textbook knowledge of the law and likes to try to impress people by regurgitating everything they know whether it is relevant or not. Most law students get over this when they graduate and actually practice. James, alas, has not. I shouldn’t engage, but sometimes it is just so much fun that I can’t help myself.
Donna December 17, 2016 at 9:05 am #:
Do you take your vacations here? [link SFW but a bit loud in places]
As for whether “this is luring,” it really depends on what the guy’s intentions were, right? Which we cannot know without more information.
If he thought he was inviting an of-age person to go get some coffee, then no, that is not luring, any more than asking someone out for a date is luring.
If he thought he was asking a 13yo who didn’t know him to get into his car (for reasons other than saving her in an emergency), I can’t imagine what “good intentions” he could have had, and even if he did, he is an idiot for thinking that was gonna fly in today’s world.
You’re right it’s common sense for her not accept a coffee with him or a ride is his car. I didn’t say that she should of. There is a good chance that he was a creep. However, I don’t understand that she was in danger. Did he get out of the car and try to get her? Does this warrant a police search?
Since you brought up the subject of common sense, I’d like to jump back to my example of Domestic Violence. It’s very common that the battered woman wants to leave but doesn’t because she is afraid to live on her own.
I agree with SKL. â€œthat is not luring, any more than asking someone out for a date is luring.â€
This over-reaction by itself is nothing. However it’s a reinforcement that â€œEverything is dangerousâ€. It’s a drop in the bucket of the hysteria of today. You lack vision if you can’t see a connection between the risk averse attitude of today and the Huge decline of people that are self reliant and have low confidence.
I used DV as an example to point out that multiple dangers must be considered and not just focus on the one. (as if that is the only danger that exists)
“No, he acted suspicious at both points A and B”
OK, then. If leaving the scene is suspicious, then the driver of the car who left the scene after scaring this girl is acting suspicious, because he left the scene.
“Not even an analog. The police pulled over a car that matches the description of a car that LEFT THE SCENE OF AN ACTUAL CRIME, not the scene of completely legal behavior”
Lawyers are supposed to be able to read.
Is it your understanding that it is AN ACTUAL CRIME to drive a car that looks like one the police are interested in?
Your condescension is boring, and your disinterest in responding to the things I actually write is even more so.
I’m frustrated. I live very much the work Lenore does, but articles (and the below-the-line comments that follow) like this really put me off forwarding or sharing more of the content elsewhere.
Yes, the girl did the right thing. It was also not a case of criminal luring. We can almost all agree on that.
Why, I ask, why can’t people here however just acknowledge that, regardless of age, a stranger in car asking someone else in a street to join the driver in his (or her) car to go somewhere for what resembles a date is just a very creepy thing to do? This is not to say there are thousands of would-be kidnappers out there pushing car windows down, but to bring some sense that, at the very least, it is very awkward to ask someone for ‘coffee’ or ‘drinks’ or anything that requires the asked person to jump into a stranger’s car.
In a broader sense: technology changed much of what is deemed acceptable behavior when it comes to dating approaches or first moves. I’m on my 30s, I have several female friends on the 25-40 age cohort, I cannot think of anyone of them who would not be extremely creeped out and completely put off by any such attempt by a stranger to invite them into some car, motorbike, boat and go somewhere for a date. For the college-age crowd, who are digital natives, a stranger asking someone out cold-feet (unless they are on a dating-environment like a club) is stuff for the movies or for the weirdos. Guys and girls find such thing strange or unnerving.
“I donâ€™t understand that she was in danger. Did he get out of the car and try to get her? Does this warrant a police search?”
We don’t know.
It’s possible that the police are or were holding back details.
From the story, we know that the girl was scared enough to run home… maybe this is because she is overly skittish and easily panicked, or maybe it is because there was more to the man’s actions or the circumstances than has been relayed to us.
â€œItâ€™s possible that the police are or were holding back details.â€
Yes that’s possible.
â€œFrom the story, we know that the girl was scared enough to run homeâ€¦ maybe this is because she is overly skittish and easily panickedâ€
That’s possible as well. I’m not saying that this was the case. I’m only pointing out the dangers of this. People often focus so hard on ‘What if’ that they act as though this is the only danger to consider. I brought up a DV situation because it is a VERY common example of how becoming overly skittish can be dangerous. Many women refrain from leaving because that would mean that they would be living alone. They are too skittish to do so. It becomes a case of, ‘Better the devil you know than the one you don’t’.
Okay. My gut hunch here is that any male, mature or otherwise, in a situation like this just wouldn’t do what this male did. That’s if he’s a good guy. Because the obvious fallout from such an action would be pretty clear in his mind. It’s all about the consequences. That’s my starting point. This is creep factor writ large.
Suppose both of them were way off in assumed ages. Even that stretches it beyond the breaking point.
When I was in college in my twenties, I drove a big city cab. There were occasional late night moments when I hauled underage streetwalkers off the street and into my car to warm up (accompanied by a quick check to make sure they were all right.) Two or three of them might have been as young as 14…15.
But still, that was different. I was driving a public service vehicle, and on the job.
So would I cut this guy some slack? I wouldn’t assume offhand that he was a hardened criminal. Maybe just more of a pathetic fool. But for me it’s a long slippery slope from here to Alaska – before I’d hook that up with “Don’t talk to strangers.”
Applause for the kid who just did the automatic natural thing: applied her own gut instincts, and faded, fast.
“I brought up a DV situation because it is a VERY common example of how becoming overly skittish can be dangerous. Many women refrain from leaving because that would mean that they would be living alone.”
I don’t think so.
Seems MUCH more likely to me that there are a LOT of reasons to be afraid of leaving an abusive relationship, and “fear of living alone” is pretty far down the list, if it’s even ON the list.
For example, I’m pretty sure the most common reason would be being unable to support yourself, in either the short or long term. No money, no job, and children to feed, clothe and house. That might make you stay with an abuser. That’s a very REAL fear.
“For example, Iâ€™m pretty sure the most common reason would be being unable to support yourself, in either the short or long term. No money, no job, and children to feed, clothe and house. That might make you stay with an abuser. Thatâ€™s a very REAL fear.”
Sadly, I know two families that have gone through DV situations and I am 1 for 1 (1 alive, 1 murdered). They are very complex and different, but are mostly about control exerted over the victim(s). The abuser may have gaslighted the victims to think they could never live or survive on their own or would be harmed if they tried. Threats to children, using them as pawns to gain control over a victim is more likely to happen then not being able to get a job, apartment, etc.
You can get those things, but your abuser can still make your life an everlasting hell as they use the legal system, family members, and weak stalking/harassment laws to intimidate victims without punishment under the law. They pay bail and get probation.
My one friend did everything right- she got divorced, she reported the abuse, left her abuser, had a job and supported her kids but was tortured, mutilated, and murdered after only 2 months of being free. If only it were so easy as getting a good job…
Your right. There are a lot of reasons to be afraid of leaving an abusive relationship. Anxiety covers a big area. It’s an avalanche of fear that doesn’t have boundaries. You can’t say that women stay in an abusive relationship because of:
25% fear of him beating you if you try
25% fear of dying alone and never finding another partner
15% believing that you don’t deserve better
10% believing that it’s all your fault
10% self punishment for not being a different person.
15% various reasons.
Confidence, self esteem, and self reliance address every one of these issues. DV is 100,000 times more likely to occur than some of these ‘what if’ scenarios. However some people focus so hard on this that they can’t consider the danger of becoming adult age without learning how to deal with adult problems. They are 100% confident that they are doing their children a favor by smothering their children in protection.
I used DV as a small example. Anxiety breeds MANY more problems than this.
DV is so complicated, just talking about it such progress, people usually treat it like dog sh*t on your shoe and want to get off topic as soon as possible. It probably has a lot to do with helicopter parenting, another way of exerting control, so don’t apologize for bringing it up. DV sometimes doesn’t rear it’s ugly, violent head until it’s too late. Emotional abuse and gaslighting and constantly telling someone that problems are all in their head has a lot to do with anxiety. Most victims struggle with depression and anxiety.
My sister was stalked by an ex-husband who told her “I won’t let you divorce me.” He meant it. In PA, you can drag your heals on divorce papers for 2 years. That’s how long she endured constant stalking and verbal, cyber, and physical harassment. He also refused to pay child support and starved his family so he could be back in the home. She worked 3 jobs to support their kids and he took her to court for child endangerment because she had the 16 year-old babysit the younger daughter overnight while she worked double shifts. Our state made her take parenting courses. He was finally arrested for failure to pay child support after almost 6 months of financial abuse. But he made bail, and never spent time in jail.
That’s how the system works for those who leave DV situations. This is why they have anxiety. They can report being treated like this, but their abusers just get a slap on the wrist. It’s sickening.
Anxiety has several ailments that don’t appear in all anxiety cases. This is the same as some will get a sore throat with the flue but others won’t. One of the things that come with anxiety is the inability to make a decision.
This is hard to comprehend and difficult to explain but I’ll try.
Imagine that you’re in a boat. It has a hole in it and is filling up with water. You have 2 different plugs that you can use to cover the hole. However, as the boat sinks further, the fear of choosing the less effective plug snowballs! The boat ends up sinking because the person can’t decide which plug to use!
Another example is that of a computer. Sometimes it gets stuck in an endless loop. When this happens, it can’t even add 5 + 3! The brain also gets bombarded with information similar to an endless loop. In a DV problem, a decision has to be made. However if the battered woman is unable to make a decision, she doesn’t decide to leave.
DV is a big problem. However it’s a small example of problems that stem from anxiety and depression. However some people focus so hard on worst first thinking that they can’t see any other problems. They can’t see that:
1. They need to allow their child freedom. This freedom not only teaches self reliance, problem solving, and confidence, it give the practice of how to work their way out of a problem.
2. While they are stuck on worst first thinking, they can’t see that THEY are spreading the fear epidemic.
3. Inheritance isn’t limited to bank accounts and hair color, their children also inherit the fear of the parents.
Anxiety is very different from person to person. However one of the most common things they all complain about is to feel invalidated by others. Even the well wishers of their closest friends can be misinterpreted.
People can say:
â€œIt’s all in your headâ€ or â€œYou need to pick yourself upâ€
However, they instead interpret these words as
â€œYou have no reason to have this painâ€
This distorted interpretation gets distorted even further. As it goes though the endless loop, it can become something such as, â€œIt’s no big dealâ€ and â€œYou are creating this problem. Therefore it’s you’re fault!â€
This also falls inline what the control freak is constantly yelling at her. â€œYOU ARE MAKING ME DO THIS!â€
My blog doesn’t cover this topic yet. However this page explains how one person can be saying one thing. However, it gets interpreted as something else.
Confidence, self reliance, and learning how to work your way out of a problem is about the best way to ‘immunize’ your children from anxiety and depression. It isn’t a preventative. However it is about the best forms of protection there is.
This is why I get so made at people that act like:
I LOVE my children more than you do. This is why I protect them so much. You allow yours to explore because you’re to lazy to look after them!