The horror of the big white van

By Lenore Skenazy . . . White van hysteria has hit a new high, with the Mayor of Baltimore warning his citizens not to even PARK near a white van. People in at least one of these vehicles, he said, are coming to sex traffic young women and sell their body parts.

Neither of these things is true and when you examine them for half a second, you can see that they are pretty mutually exclusive. It’s just a hairball of hysteria, mish-mashing all our fears into one backseat. This includes murder, trafficking, organ sales, vans, strangers, and of course, men.

The mayor fell for the story the same way waves of Americans seem to be doing. When asked the source of his information by the skeptical WBAL reporter Vanessa Herring, he said. “It’s all over Facebook.”

And that it is. All over. This incredibly thorough CNN report tracked down viral postings of the white van story and seems to have found the origin. A November 13 post by a Baltimore resident she’d seen two men in a white van outside a gas station who would not stop staring at her.

She made the mental leap from “Guys in a van” to “OMG, put it on Facebook,” and boom! A match to the ever-ready tinder of terror. In a twist, the woman even wrote that she’d thought other people on social media were exaggerating when they posted about their terrifying white van encounters, but now that she had this terrifying (non) encounter of her own, she’s a believer. Those two men outside the gas station were “part of a bigger story,” she wrote. “I don’t think they are two random guys.”

For the record: I do. There were about half a million commercial vans sold in 2017 alone. The average vehicle lasts 10 years. There are highways full of guys in white vans all across America, because that’s what a whole lot of them drive for work. In the back are…tools. Being freaked out by a van is like being freaked out by a pigeon.

For another reality check, I looked at the U.S. Department of Justice statistics about child kidnappings. Here they are. You’ll see that the stats show that abductions are not going up, and that stranger abductions are incredibly rare. The number of minors (under age 18) kidnapped and killed by a stranger is about nine a year, in a country of about 65 million minors. Every single death of every single kid is tragic, obviously. But the man-in-van = mayhem equation is just not something we have to worry about. We can’t always believe what we see online or in things like these home security ads.

When I interviewed David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Resource Center, he told me he had heard of no cases of a child being snatched from a parent in a public place and trafficked. Not one.

Read the remainder of the article here at Let Grow.

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    • #66349 Reply
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      aurelius

      Stupid people always seek validation with other stupid people

    • #66354 Reply
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      d

      What was she wearing? Maybe it was perfectly natural for the men to be staring at her. I am guessing she had a pair of skin tight yoga pants on. Think of all the things women do to gain attention from men and then when it happens they are a victim. I am sick and tiered of this BS ready made trap for men called the USA F YOU!

      She is not a victim the men are!

    • #66534 Reply
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      citizen

      Well.. If I was a criminal who was intending to commit a crime which had a huge cult following of hysteria and paranoia, I would definitely bend over backwards to fit the description of all the “want-to-be” victims involved in this caca meme conspiracy theory.
      Oh Yes! Please give me a White panel van to drive… and a clown suit… a bag of candy and some thick rimmed glasses along with a burr cut. and If I can change my body type to that of a low confidence middle aged man… that would just be a prayer answered.
      All exaggeration, of course. Sometimes you just have to let stupid people be stupid. There are places in this country that would roll their eyes straight out of their heads at the mention of pedo-rapists nd human traffickers perusing around in white panel vans. I’m telling you people fantasize about this… They want to relive the SCI SVU shows they watch on TV.

    • #66896 Reply
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      Saddles

      While I didn’t know how to tackle this article to make any since out of it I’m glad the world’s worst mom did. Yes that is a label but in a way this article makes one more cautious about their surroundings.

      We all go thru experiences in life and actually even thou she was dabbed the worlds’ worst mom I’m sure a wrog is wrong and a right is right but in a way this white van thing has meaning. Sure women should cover up themselves but we are all responsible for our actions. So who can make a wrong a right.

      While I can’t say anything about women’s lib movement as that would be a bit tacky on my part we all have principals. While I’m sure we can all say we all should watch our surroundings as their are people out their ready to swindle you, trip you up, do al types of injustice. Just take a look at the internet and a lot of this sex texting and those that play this game. And yes even some detective said its all part of the game. One can understand a drive by shooting than being trafficked by a white van. Whats this nation coming too.

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