Here’s the latest “Parents, Please Commence Freaking Out” video.
reminds me of the Joey Salads video, obviously, but also of the parents who had their 6 year old snatched, blindfolded and led down into a basement where the “kidnapper” threatened to nail him to the wall — all to teach him not to talk to strangers. That boy’s mom and grandma wanted to keep their child safe, but I would not be surprised if any natural “gut instincts” of his have been shattered for life. (Not to mention his trust in his loved ones.)
The same goes for the young ladies here. The video shows an admitted prankster, Coby Persin, who looks to be about 30, pretending to be a teen as he chats with some girls online. They agree to meet, whereupon he films each girl’s shock and near collapse when it turns out to be him and his terrifying “safety” message. Worst of all (to me), is that the girls’ parents are alongside Coby, heaping guilt and rage upon their daughter.
The terror of a kidnapping mixed with the horror and soul-melting shame of being tricked and trapped by your own parents is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
And what is the message? That young people shouldn’t trust anyone online? That’s like telling them not to trust anyone they meet in the off line world, too. As I wrote of the Joey Salads piece, a video that “tests” whether kids can be conned by an evil stranger makes it seem as if this is a situation kids are faced with every day. What is so hard to understand is that, first of all, our kids today are NOT in constant danger. Also: The vast majority of crimes against children are committed NOT by sneaky strangers, but by people they truly know.
Of course it makes sense to teach our kids about Internet safety. That all is not always as it seems. That they shouldn’t share too much information, or assume that what they post will ever disappear. But it is bizarre to act as if Facebook is teaming with stranger danger.
This video most reminds me of the scary hitchhiker warnings of the deep, dark 1960s: “Never pick up a stranger.” (Which also became the slogan for an anti-freeze, but I digress.) Unfortunately, it’s kind of scary, misleading message that everyone loves to share, as if it’s a public service.
As if parents just aren’t worried enough yet.
On another note, the mention of “750,000 Registered Child Predators” at the end is wrong. There are indeed over 750,000 registered sex offenders, but the majority of people on the registry do not pose a threat to kids.
That’s not just me saying this. Here’s a piece in The Economist quoting a study done by the Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board (not a state that’s soft on crime). The study found that of the 17,000 people on Georgia’s state registry, 5% were “clearly dangerous” and just over 100 were “predators” compelled to prey on kids. But, of course, most people will assume if there are 17,000 registered sex offenders in Georgia there are 17,000 “registered child predators.”
So, like the Joey Salads video that showed a man going to the playground and luring children off to see his puppy, it’s not that this cannot be done. It’s that the whole “experiment” is premised on the idea that this is a common scenario. Which, thank god, it is not.
But it sure feels that way, thanks to videos like this. – L