Goodness Me! Will Nobody Help This Child Being “Kidnapped” in Broad Daylight?

Readers — I found this video pathuriating. That’s my new word for pathetic + infuriating. (No, I don’t expect it to catch on.)

I tzriznethk
asked my friend Shelly Stow, who works to dispel predator panic, to articulate what’s so bad about this thing. She writes:

I’m not sure what it’s designed to do. Terrify parents? Make them think that children are at significant risk of being taken in public, in broad daylight, with adults there who have been “alerted” to the situation by the child? By a kidnapper who persists in his attempts with adults there with telephones? Has it ever happened?

Ah, I love Shelly. Read more of her response here, at  her blog. And then do not do what so many others seem to be doing, which is to pass along this video as if it just proves our kids are never safe. (Which sometimes seems to be what social media IS all about.) – L


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

44 Responses to Goodness Me! Will Nobody Help This Child Being “Kidnapped” in Broad Daylight?

  1. SKL February 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    That was pretty bad acting. Besides, all this kind of thing is going to do is make people think we’re more likely to be “experimented on” like this than to encounter an actual kidnap attempt. Which may be true.

  2. C. S. P. Schofield February 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    When I hear about this kind of idiocy (wasn’t there a school that ‘simulated’ a mass shooting incident a while back?) I wonder, how would the pillocks involved react if an armed citizen took the ‘incident’ they were manufacturing at face value and shot one or more of the ‘attackers’? Would they be outraged?

  3. Amanda Matthews February 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    I think this is good. It shows parents that people out there will help, and shows a reason to not teach kids to be afraid of strangers.

    Fear of children being kidnapped isn’t going to go away if we pretend the fear isn’t there, and obviously it isn’t going to go away by showing statistics against it, so it’s better to show that there are good people out there rather than doing nothing.

    But C. S. P. Schofield does have a good point… they are lucky the woman only had pepper spray.

  4. Alex February 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    On a side note of keeping us scared, the top banner ad for this story is for Amber Alert, and it is designed in such a way to make it appear that those are real-time updates (yay for clickbait). Oh the irony! I can’t think of a place where that kind of tactics would be less welcome than here.

  5. Heather February 14, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    As a stepparent of a violent mentally ill child who sometimes needs to be restrained and removed from public spaces, I can verify that some people will try to intervene to help the kid. But we’ve probably scared off a few helpful citizens from ever helping again by attempting to hand over the child and telling them that if they want her they can have her.

  6. Katie February 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    People are using this to feel scared of kidnapping? Near as I can tell, it’s a video about how random men (you know, those people we’re supposed to be scared of) will protect a kid if necessary. That, and the woman who pepper sprayed him – awesome 🙂

    And yeah, there are a lot of flaws with this.

  7. Donna February 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    My biggest problem with this (other than the really bad acting) – at the beginning, the kid says that his biggest fear is being kidnapped. Maybe that was just a line in a script, but it is still telling. I don’t think my child would ever say that her biggest fear is being kidnapped. I don’t think she would say that it is one of her fears at all since I don’t tell her constantly that kidnapping is a possibility.

  8. SKL February 14, 2014 at 2:03 pm #


    You and I should ask our kids, out of the blue, what their biggest fears are. I honestly don’t know what the answer would be.

    They may not be hearing “kidnap” crap from us, but they are definitely hearing it from other people. At least, my kids are – at school, and from well-meaning aunties.

  9. lollipoplover February 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    “LIKE if you’re against child kidnappings?”
    Who isn’t?

    The fact that Nathan’s *biggest fear* is being kidnapped (really? There’s so many other bigger ones to choose from)speaks volumes to the tone of this video That this happens all the time and we need to watch out for kids that are alone (“he ran away from me”). Nathan looks 12. He can speak up (and the stuttering and stammering in his delivery- teach kids to be direct and effective communicators)and say it’s not his dad to a stranger. I am so, so happy the woman pepper sprayed this idiot playing the kidnapper. Way to dress the unibomber role and offer candy and ice cream.
    If they show this in schools, point out what Nathan could do better to get help- Be loud, be direct, most strangers will help you in an emergency if you ask.

    Oh and I read it not as pathuriating but pathurinating. pathetic piss…

  10. Jim Collins February 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    So what happens if somebody witnessing this pulls out a gun and shoots the kidnapper? It is going to happen sooner or later.

  11. Warren February 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Out of curiousity, had the kidnapper been attacked and injured or killed, what would the outcome have been? I am not saying that someone would intentionally kill him, but in the act of taking him down anything can happen. Or the other way around, the defender falls and hits his head. So many things wrong with these kinds of experiments.

    And if this boy’s real fear is being kidnapped, I think his parents need to be evaluated.

  12. Ada February 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    This is insane! And, a takeaway from this video is that many STRANGERS do put themselves on the line to get involved. STRANGERS, unknown to the child, are not to be feared.

  13. Donna February 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    SKL – I asked. She said “I’m a little afraid of the dark, but that isn’t my biggest fear.” I asked what her biggest fear was and she said “I don’t have one.” I asked specifically if she worried about people bothering her while she is out by herself and she looked at me like I was crazy and said “no.” I said how about them trying to get you to go with them and she again looked at me like I was crazy and said “you’ve already taught me not to go even if they offer me candy or money (I never mentioned money but she does love money so it is good she wouldn’t follow someone for it).”

    I don’t think kidnapping is on her radar. Remember we’ve been on a very small island for most of the last 2 years so she hasn’t gotten the kidnapping hype.

  14. Ben February 14, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    This was worth watching just to see one of the perpetrators of the lousy video get pepper-sprayed.

  15. CLamb February 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    I’d be interested in knowing the statistics on how many people helped the kid and how many didn’t. That’ll give us an indication of whether or not people need to be encouraged by this video to help.

  16. Emily February 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    Fear-mongering, crying wolf, and really bad acting, all in the name of “promoting safety.” What is this world coming to?

  17. Jenny Islander February 14, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    I thought I wouldn’t ever do this, but I think I’m going to have to. I am easing my daughter out of Girl Scouts.

    A friend of mine, a former GS leader, assures me that this is the local group being buffleheaded, not national rules. But practically speaking, it doesn’t matter. It’s the local group or no Girl Scouts at all, due to our location.

    Around Christmas, I had a dispute with my daughter’s troop leader about letting her walk alone to the pickup point for a caroling excursion, which was just around the corner and across the street. She said I had to drag the younger siblings out of the house and through the chilly winter weather–seeing as how they really are too young to stay home alone–while I personally walked my eldest to the pickup point. Or tell my husband that he had to let me have the car for the day instead of using it for work-related trips. “Safety.” Although I held on to my temper (I think), I got the feeling that this person was completely willing to call the cops or CPS or something if I let my eldest walk alone for five whole minutes, so I was willing to give in; besides, my girl really wanted to go caroling. And then the whole thing got weathered out. Bullet dodged.

    A few weeks ago, my daughter’s troop had a meet-up at a craft store a block from our house. I told my daughter to courteously ask whether she could walk home on her own, and if not, to call me. She ended up calling me. “Safety.”

    Last night my daughter had a meeting in an elementary school building. They dropped their coats in the central cafeteria, then went to a small classroom just down the hall. When my daughter was done with the activity, she wanted to get out of the way of the other kids and wait in the cafeteria for me to come in and get her. Not allowed. “Safety.”

    And two strikes.

    Yup. Her polite request to walk home from the craft store was one strike. Her polite request to wait for me in the cafeteria was two strikes. One more “incident” like this, and my girl shall be officially de-enrolled from Girl Scouts due to her inability to practice “safety.”

    The cherry on the sundae of stupid: Apparently, this whole time, my nine-year-old has been forced to take a bathroom buddy to the restroom whenever she needs to go! All of the girls have to do this; it isn’t just her being picked on. What. The. Frack.

    The local Salvation Army runs a scouting program that does none of this nonsense, and also does awesome stuff like launch weather balloons with cameras on them. As of next week, my daughter (and her little sister, who is technically in Scouts but there weren’t enough troop leaders this year) will be dual-enrolled. They have friends in that program already, so hopefully it will come to a logistical issue and I’ll be able to ease her/them out of GS for that reason. I don’t want her memories of GS to be bitter.

  18. SOA February 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Okay part of the problem with this is that kid is not very articulate, he was just stuttering and not making sense. So how can adults really figure out what is going on? I would hope my kids would have enough sense to clearly say “I do not know this man. He is kidnapping me. Call the police.” The stuttering and not being clear with communicating is not fair because how are the adults to understand what is going on. I realize not all kids will communicate well but then what are you going to do? I know with having a son that was non verbal for years and does not communicate well he has more of a chance of not getting help in a situation like this. Just how it is. So I probably do watch him a bit closer than I do my son who communicates very well.

    You need to teach your kids to kick, scream, run when they are being kidnapped. Not just stand there and stutter. Same for adults if someone messes with you. The more outspoken you make your kids they better off they are. I have never been able to stand up for myself anytime anywhere.

    This video does show however if the kid did communicate clearly like with the black man, he stood up for him and protected him. Which most decent people will. The prob was most people I think did not really get what was happening due to the kid not communicating well.

  19. Cassie February 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I don’t know. It seems to me that this video is not aimed at parents (ie scaring parents) but is aimed at the general public. It seems aimed at giving them the courage to do something if they are ever in that situation… and that could be child abduction or seeing a woman get hurt or maybe someone getting assaulted.

    It wasn’t done particularly well, but I don’t see how it was ever intended as a scare tactic. I mean, almost all of the adults intervened, that is a really positive thing for parents to see…. Is that what free-range parenting is about… Tell the world that other adults will help. That it is okay to go ask a stranger for help.

  20. lollipoplover February 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    @SKL- I asked my kids what their biggest fears were (and the extra kids that are here-another snow day).
    My oldest said “being poor”. Interesting because he has more money saved than any kid I know.
    My youngest said “coyotes”. Weird, but we set up a trail camera on the wooded area the kids play around last week and we have creepy pictures of coyotes and foxes eating the bait we put near the camera…
    Girl across the street said “if my parents died”. But then her father had cancer last year and I cannot imagine what she has gone through. She got hugs.

    Personally, my biggest fear is if we have another snow day. We had two more this week…and honestly, it’s like The Shining here…I cannot take another day with all of these kids here, running the dryer constantly, every room like the book “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie” with crap everywhere as they move on to the next project…

  21. Emily February 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    @Jenny–Isn’t that three strikes? I thought the first strike was the carolling incident. Anyway, when I read through the events you described, I assumed your daughter was in Daisies or whatever the five-and-six-year-old group is called where you are, but then you said she was NINE. For a nine-year-old, constant supervision and bathroom buddies is way over the top.

  22. Reziac February 14, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    N’kay, I watched the video (and read the captions at the end, which are critical) and I think y’all are misreacting here.

    The object wasn’t to demonstrate that “your kid could get abducted”. Rather, it meant to demonstrate that if you really think something is wrong (such as a kid in genuine danger), it’s okay to intervene.

    That’s the diametric opposite of the risk-averse do-gooder who calls the cops but won’t get involved.

  23. Reziac February 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    Oh, and my ‘greatest fear’ as a kid — I didn’t have any.

    Seriously, my worst fear was getting a B in a class where ordinarily I’d get an A (because at my school, the motivator to do well was largely peer pressure).

  24. Amy February 14, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    Holy bad acting, batman! Couldn’t even stand to watch the whole thing.

  25. Donna February 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    Lollipoplover – Try being on snow day number 4 with a holiday Monday still to come.

  26. Jenny Islander February 14, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    @Emily: No, the first thing was just a warning shot; my daughter herself verbalized disagreement with the rules the next two times, so that’s two strikes.

    Also I talked again with my friend the ex-troop leader, and she said that they don’t have the power to kick my daughter out of GS; it’s just that there is only one troop in her assigned area, and if she can’t go to that one, and everybody talks to everybody in this town so she won’t be welcome in the others even if they aren’t full, well . . .

  27. everydayrose February 15, 2014 at 1:37 am #

    @Jenny…I understand your frustration, but the part where I’m confused is where your daughter was ‘asking’ to walk home. If she’s asking then of course they’re going to say no. So obviously you both need to TELL them that she’ll be walking. Don’t give them the opportunity to say no.

    I keep encountering this with my 12 year old daughter. She started junior high this year (7th grade here) and on the third day of school they had to shut down because the school had flooded. The buses picked all the kids up, but instead of putting them back on the buses to come home, they called us all half an hour after they left to come and pick them up. I was unable to so when she called I told her to walk home. She told me that she wasn’t allowed to. Hah! I told her that she’d be walking home and if anyone had a problem with it they needed to call me. This child called me four times(!) in a panic about how they wouldn’t let her walk home. Guess what though? She walked home.

    Same thing last year when I let her and her then 3rd grade sister ride their bikes to school. I ended up on the phone arguing with the principal like it was some sort of international incident but you know what happened? They rode their bikes home at the end of the day.

    I’M the parent and I’M the one who decides what’s safe enough and what’s not. I will not back down from that and like I told my daughter, if it comes down to me saying one thing and them saying another, I’m ALWAYS going to win.

    Right now we live across the street and half a block down from the local YMCA, and every Friday night my daughter walks down there to meet her friends for ‘late nights,’ some thing for older kids. Then she walks home at midnight. By herself. Every week some other parent tries to convince her that she needs a ride and last week one of the workers called me to verify that she could walk home. It’s so ridiculous but I think it’s important for her to walk. This is a kid who has a lot of fears about a lot of things, and it was her idea to walk in the first place. I know I’m not going to be the one to keep in her a fearful place instead of letting her do something that will empower her, even when I know that a lot (if not all) of the other parents are judging me as a bad parent. I honestly couldn’t care less.

  28. J.T. Wenting February 15, 2014 at 2:29 am #

    “I’d be interested in knowing the statistics on how many people helped the kid and how many didn’t. That’ll give us an indication of whether or not people need to be encouraged by this video to help.”

    Knowing what would happen were I to help the kid in a situation like this (meaning, I’d be arrested for assaulting the kidnapper, probably accused of being a pedophile for touching a child (even if inadvertently), etc. etc.) I’d not help.
    That’s what society has created, and is creating, a situation where people are afraid to stop a crime in progress out of fear they’ll be blamed for it (like the motorist here a few weeks ago who stopped to help when he saw an accident, then was fined thousands of Euros for the trouble, being blamed for the accident, and getting billed for the recovery and medical attention of the accident victims because they had no insurance and he was the one who’d called for the recovery trucks and ambulances).

  29. SOA February 15, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    FYI Babble just posted this on a blog. I saw it on my facebook page.

  30. Tsu Dho Nimh February 15, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Tips for parents and would-be videographers:

    1 – Send them to acting classes before you make a video like this. The child’s body language and vocal style showed very little fear or panic.

    2 – Send your kids to a self-defence course that relies on getting away and doing serious bodily harm to the would-be abductor.

    3 – Teach them to scream and yell “Call 9-1-1! He’s not my Dad”. And “Get away from me, you aren’t my Dad!”

    4 – Teach them to go into the closest building where there are likely to be people … like the school building in scene one.

    Yes, pathuriating!

  31. EricS February 15, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    I rather enjoyed this video (save for the bad acting). Closed minded and fearful people may take it the wrong way. What I choose to take from it, is that 1. There ARE people out there that would help. And 2. There are probably more people out there that would just stand there in awe, capturing on the video on incident or tweeting about it.

    I was actually surprised there were that many that tried to help. I was expecting more non-resistance from the subjects. But it also goes to show that there are people out there that would rather not have confrontation, than to ensure someone’s safety, like a child. I personally would have taken all measures to ensure the kids safety first. Confirm that the guy was actually his father. And if he was, ensure that the child was ok. After all, most kidnappings are done by someone the child already knows, many cases it’s an estranged parent. Get the child to call his other parent, so that I can confirm if this person was good to go. I would even go to point of restraining this guy, and risk being charged for assault. That risk, to me, is worth it. Knowing that the child is ok.

    I would suggest to the creator of the video, his next project is to put out a video of how young people can protect themselves on the streets. If parents won’t teach them, maybe YouTube can. There is more than one way to skin a cat. 😉 And more kids these days are influenced by what they see online already. Why not make what they see a positive outlook and educational, helpful to their mental and physical well-being.

  32. Donna February 15, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    I kinda surprised how many people helped him out. Not because I don’t think that most people are great and want to help, but because his acting (and I use that term loosely) was so bad that it was clear that he was fooling around.

  33. SKL February 15, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    So I asked my girls what their greatest fears are.

    Miss E: “Sludge, who has the faces of a thousand fears. Because he mirrors all a person’s fears back to them.” When asked what those fears would be in her case: “Bengal tigers! Cape buffalo! Komodo dragons! African lions! … ”

    Miss A: “I dunno, the dark?” When asked why, “because it reminds me of bad guys.” But then she said, “actually I’m not really that afraid of the dark. [True, they always sleep in pitch black without a fuss.] I’m not really that afraid of anything.” She then changed the subject to talk about the things they like best.

  34. Jenny Islander February 15, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    @everydayrose: I already half-suspected that these people were capable of calling the cops if my daughter, who can bike two miles all by herself, dared to walk a block to her home. I do not have the spoons for that kind of contretemps. I’m glad I didn’t push the issue then, because if they can threaten to disinvite my daughter from Scouts for daring to politely request permission to be as responsible and independent as she usually is, then yes, they would very well have sent the authorities to my door for having her just go home!

  35. Papilio February 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Okay, that was unintentionally very funny. He doesn’t even say ‘help’! Let’s hope he stays in school instead of trying to become an actor full-time 😛

    PS Lenore: Seen this? 😀

  36. Emily February 16, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    @Jenny–I’m a bit confused. First, said that there weren’t any other Girl Scout groups in your area, other than the Bubble-Wrap Scout group that your daughter is enrolled in now. Then, you said that there were, but it’s a small town, and your daughter would be “blacklisted” from the other Scout groups, if she were to be “no longer welcome” in the Bubble-Wrap group…..which doesn’t have the power to kick her out, but “no longer welcome” kind of means the same thing to me. So, if there are other groups in the area, why not just move her for “scheduling reasons” or some such? Don’t make it about the group, don’t make it about what you don’t want (bubble-wrap treatment), but rather, make it about you and your daughter, and what you DO want. I was going to suggest becoming a GS leader yourself, but if it’s anything like Girl Guides in Canada, then that’s no good–it’s all very “top-down,” and the rules are decided by the bureaucracy, not the individual leaders.

  37. Jenny Islander February 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    There are several troops per age group. Each covers a particular neighborhood as well as a particular age group. You aren’t supposed to, for example, send your kids to the ones on the other side of town if you live on this side of town. If I try to do so in the hope that the other group isn’t all bubble-wrap and paranoia, I have to deal with the fact that all of these troop leaders have coffee together. And I am trying very, very hard to avoid drama in all this, because as crappy as I think this whole situation is my daughter wants to stay in Scouts.

  38. lena February 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    you notice the ones who helped were the ones who could take the guy on.
    i mean, seriously; as a 5′ 3″ female, if a 5’7″ (he looked under 6 feet in the video) said “YES THIS IS MY CHILD!”

    i would back away. maybe call the police much MUCH later.

  39. Puzzled February 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    I think people didn’t help because nothing about his delivery was age-appropriate. You’re asking people to make a judgement call, and presenting them with something that looks a hell of a lot like a child throwing a temper tantrum and running away from his father (other than the silly outfit) than anything else. A 12 year old would actually communicate, would fight, etc. His delivery would make sense for a 5 year old, except that he showed no fear whatsoever.

    By the way, what 12 year old would be stupid enough to ask a stranger to call his mother during a kidnapping attempt?

    On the other hand, this could happen if a mentally handicapped child were being kidnapped – but it would look exactly the same if that mentally handicapped child was trying to get away from his parents/respite worker/therapist/group home employee.

    This isn’t about afraid to act/Kitty Genovese. It’s about making judgement calls. We make judgement calls every second of the day. Sometimes we’re wrong. That’s life. It’s unfortunate.

  40. SOA February 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    I agree with the post above mine. I worry about my son with autism going out in public and doing something like this and someone accusing us of kidnapping him. Of course I don’t think I would reply too politely to someone questioning me and accusing me of being a kidnapper. In the heat of the moment when I am already frustrated at my child I probably would not be able to not say something smart alecky or rude to them. I would probably feel bad for it later if they were just trying to be helpful. But in that moment, I would get be frustrated and that would add to it.

  41. SKL February 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    SOA, I know people who have had that happen. It’s probably a good idea to come up with something in advance to say just in case. Perhaps, “he has autism” followed by a request for help, e.g., “please give us space so he can calm down.” Also tell your neurotypical son how to corroborate that you are their parent and his brother has autism (if it needs saying). People can always watch from a distance if they are still worried about you being a child snatcher.

  42. SKL February 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    My autistic cousin used to choose the middle of a busy street for his meltdowns. Fortunately or unfortunately, those were different times and people just assumed it was a bratty kid or a clueless parent.

  43. Gravy February 19, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Lenore, are you going to address the little 10 year old girl who was abducted by a stranger and killed in Springfield, MO? She was walking to her friends house. You and your followers claim that the risk of abductions by strangers isn’t high enough to take heed. You slam “helicopter” parents because they see the risk of abduction and murder for their children as too high. You are basically encouraging parents to make their child the one that gets abducted. I hope that we find out that her parents followed your teachings and the media slams you for encouraging parents to be neglectful.

  44. Peter February 23, 2014 at 12:03 am #

    I did some googling, and the only previous instance of the word “pathuriating” on the Internet seems to be the following blog post:

    (I don’t know if this comment interests you, but I like googling things. Feel free to delete this comment if you feel it’s too off-topic or detracts from the page.)