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The real danger in stranger-danger

By Lenore Skenazy . . . This summer in India, two dozen innocent people died at the hands of mobs convinced that they were meting out justice to kidnappers. One was a software engineer beaten to death after giving chocolates to children outside a school. One was a 65-year-old woman who got lost on a trip to a temple with her family and stopped to ask for directions. All five family members were stripped naked and beaten with fists, sticks and iron rods. One was hospitalized in a coma. A woman named Rukmani died in the street.

This is what it happens when stranger-danger runs rampant. It turns out that fear of strangers is far more dangerous than strangers themselves.

This is what it happens when stranger-danger runs rampant. It turns out that fear of strangers is far more dangerous than strangers themselves.

The panic began in April when a video that appears to show a child being scooped off the street by two men on a motorcycle went viral. The video was originally created in Pakistan as a public service announcement to teach parents to watch their children more closely. The end of the clip showed the child returned by the “kidnappers” who held up a sign: “It takes but a moment to snatch a child off the streets of Karachi.”

But that wasn’t what millions of Indians saw on WhatsApp. In the doctored Indian version, that ending was cut off, so the child never reappears . . . .

The clip that got so many people killed in India was probably inspired by other massively popular videos on YouTube that purport to show how easy it is to steal a child. One with 13 million views ends by claiming “Over 700 children are abducted a day.”

This is utter nonsense. In 2011, the most recent year the U.S. Department of Justice has hard numbers for, 105 American children were taken in a “stereotypical kidnapping” — that is, the kind of stranger abduction you’d see on “Law & Order.” Not per day. Per year.

But when scary rumors are repeated over and over — or watched again and again — they change the way we see the world. So now it’s the rare day on Facebook when I don’t come across a post like this: “My name is Amanda and I’m a Longview, Texas resident. I’m convinced that our two-year-old daughter was the victim of a potential sex-trafficking scam yesterday. I got in the checkout line at a local store early afternoon. I took my daughter out of the cart and the couple ahead struck up the typical conversation about how ‘cute your daughter is.’”

Strangers — East Indians, she says — admiring her child. That’s it. That’s all it took for this mother to believe they were child-snatchers.

In all these social media stories, including Amanda’s, no child is actually kidnapped. None of the strangers do anything more than glance or chat. Panic does the rest.

David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, tells me he knows of no child under the age of 10 in the United States that has ever been snatched from a parent in public and trafficked for sex . . . .

Read the full story here at the New York Times

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Saddles 3 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #45706 Reply

    admin

    By Lenore Skenazy . . . This summer in India, two dozen innocent people died at the hands of mobs convinced that they were meting out justice to kidna
    [See the full post at: The real danger in stranger-danger]

  • #45717 Reply

    John

    …so Lenore, have you sent this article to all politicians, local and mainstream reporters, law enforcement agencies, legislatures and judges? The shepple public does not care and will not care nor do they come here to read and educate themselves on these facts or any other sex offenders’ facts unbenefiting to them for that matter. Good effort, but pointless it seems. Look at the communities around you! We are freaks to them!

    • #45748 Reply

      TS

      @John

      Did you ask her at her websites?

    • #45757 Reply

      Timothy DA Lawver

      @John
      All registrants have the right to trial. All registrants we’re blessed with a power of a king of trial insues! Our founders knew! What if King George had a database?

  • #45709 Reply

    Saddles

    While I don’t watch or check out Lenore blog that much, she was voted at one time worlds worst mom but do we always judge a book by its cover. While their are many seneiro’s that could of happened it seems the public was worse as the mom. So should we all say stranger danger. It depends on the situation. Even women and men meet could turn on one in a minute let alone the relationships of age groups.

    Look at these internet things and how some of those go. Should we all avoid women or the people we confront? I don’t think we have to go that far. Of course when police is involved they seem to want to lay down the rules of who you can talk to and who you can’t. Church one might as well forget about that.
    I didn’t really learn stranger danger growing up in the lat 50’s or early 60’s. Yes,ttacks could come by anyone today, from these internet encounters to these actual physical encounter or the girl getting upset with her lover or sposual abuse.

    One can’t judge people just because they don’t have their hat on straight or ears open. Now kids should be response for themself and show some responsible just like adults. Remember someone once said it takes two to tango.

    Now abuse is abuse. Even those people in india that were attacted and abused. Was there a reason behind this racism thing. Are we all getting to a degree of hate crimes such as they dabbed Lenore or do we dab things sex crimes If it had been a girl would it have been a different circumstance all together. See there ya go so who’s the judge. I wonder who actually picks up children and turns them into sex slaves or traffic’s them today.In big city’s this might actually happen but speculating is a who different ballgame. Should we all be talking about prostitution than. I am sure those in social circles wanted to bust Lenore at that time her kid in NY rode the subway by himself.

    Was it a learning lesson yet to be understood by others. Safeguarding is good but it can also go and be stretched to the limits. Maybe Lenore should of gave her child a can of mace when he ventured out just in case something should of happened. or maybe we should just spray our PO with a can of mace when they come to visit or put a muzzle on them, and remember we have the right to remain silent.

  • #45739 Reply

    Old offender

    It’s not always the truth that sells news. Make it sensational enough and the gullible public will watch it, believe it and convince the lawmakers they need to act on it.

  • #45756 Reply

    Timothy DA Lawver

    What the author describes here is another reason why social media frightens our American political establishment. She makes reverence to the last portion of the video being chopped off thus distorted perceptions lead to unwanted persecutions. I’ve heard this group behavior referred to as “mob mentality”. It’s kinda the same as digging up statistics to fit your agenda while ignoring purposefully the bits that detract from the agenda’s weak points. It also creates a market, or audience. IMO this occurred in Smith V Doe.
    She describes a mob’s mentality to overreact, when a market is created by a truncation of facts, gee sound familiar? The decent in DOE pointed to the regime’s one sided disclosure, “all of the bad and none good.” It seems like we are experiencing an up tick in mob mentality as of late. The people follow their leadership, who set a poor example. I’m not so sure that liberty survives it.

    • #45795 Reply

      WC_TN

      Isn’t KNOWINGLY AND SELECTIVELY ignoring empirical scientific facts par for course when courts hear challenges to the S.O.R. and the related restrictions?

      In McKune v Lile the “frightening and high” myth was injected into American jurisprudence by “Justice” Kennedy. The LIE states that 80-85% of untreated sex offenders will re-offend. There was no empirical evidence upon which Robert Freeman-Longo based that assertion in a layperson’s popular magazine “Psychology Today”. Several states have studied the issue of sex offender recidivism and uniformly found them to have the lowest recidivism rates of any other class of felons, yet the courts keep going back to the McKune v. Lile ruling to justify the ever-lengthening list of life-crippling restrictions that just keep getting tacked on. The phrase “frightening and high” is in the preamble of every new piece of sex offender legislation. The courts show deliberate indifference to the scientific empirical truth because it clashes with the agenda of preserving the registry regardless to the cost of constitutionally protected rights and liberties.

      My question is this: What can we do to force the noses of our judges and justices into the truth of the matter and make it where they have NO OPTION to ignore the facts? Judges have way too much discretion when they can willingly and knowingly ignore scientific empirically proven facts.

  • #45789 Reply

    Saddles
    1. You know Lenore’s article on here should impress all. Actually one could say stranger danger but honestly its about understanding and its about responsiblity and trust.. Even Timothy has the right idea when he talks about social media or this internet transparency. While Lenore got a bit bad lecture from critics about not being responsible. Like she said she and her husband made a decision or decided. See people want to hear the negative before the positive result.
      Its almost like the man that walked a tight rope over the grand canyon, was he thinking the negative first and formost. When we all say stranger-danger I wonder who’s in danger? Could it be the one on an adult site or the wrong person that goes into the women’s bathroom at Hardiee’s. Everyone I’m sure uses common sense. Authorities seem to want to weild the sword of justice a bit too much and it cause intimidation. I am sure Leonore was intimided a bit in her situation but two wrongs don’t make a right and in the end who’s responsible. Should we say hindsight is better than foresight or speak out when others abuse others and in media traps we do need to speak out. Evnn in a lot of internet traps also.
  • #46357 Reply

    Ed

    The real danger in teaching “stranger danger” to children is to the children themselves. According to NCMEC, most (95%) of missing children are runaways, 5% are family abductions and only 1% non-family, i.e. stranger, abductions.

    Children should be taught that if they feel threatened by a stranger, they should run to ANY other adult. Yes, a policeman is best, but is generally unavailable. Given the incredibly low odds that a child will be abducted anyway, the odds that two kidnappers would be in the same location are infinitesimally small.

    I believe everyone reading this article would not hesitate to aid the child, although an SO would invariably experience some suspicion and perhaps harassment. Despite that, I would help without reservation.

    • #46473 Reply

      Ed

      Pardon my typo. The first figure should be 91%.

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