Would your kids go home with a stranger?
If 20 children were on a playground, how many would follow a stranger with a puppy to his car?
HLN’s Kyra Phillips put 20 children to the "Predator Test." With the permission of their parents, an HLN producer, posing as a predator, tried to coax them off the playground, away from their parents. All the moms who participated in the four test sessions told HLN they had warned their children about wandering off with strangers. But would it make a difference?
When the HLN producer walked onto the playground with a puppy, many children ran straight for him. It was as though they couldn't resist the lure of a cute dog. Then our producer/predator made his pitch. He tried to direct the children back to his vehicle.
“I need to go give him some water. Do y’all want to come with me and help me feed him and give him some water?” he asked.
"I want to feed the dog!" one of the boys answered.
So off they went, exiting the playground while their mothers watched in disbelief. The children walked through a parking lot and stopped at the HLN producer's SUV, chatting along the way. The producer opened the back of his vehicle, and the kids still didn't sense any danger.
Then, without much effort, our producer convinced one of the children to crawl into his dog's crate. His mother said her heart was pounding.
“We talked about strangers and he knows not to talk with strangers or go with them,” his mother said. “We didn’t speak about strangers with pets … I’m thinking we need to go over some more scenarios and just let him know it’s not OK.”
That’s why “stranger danger” is more like “scared straight,” Dr. Rebecca Bailey told HLN.
“The words ‘stranger danger’ are somewhat out of vogue these days … because what it connotes is someone that looks totally different, maybe the toothless people you see on TV as an abductor. You want kids to know that it’s not necessarily like that. In the Dugard case, it was a couple," Dr. Bailey said.
That is why she says it's essential for parents to test their children.
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