A bunch of people keep sending me a new viral video about "kidnapping." Please, everyone who is sending it, stop.
If you're lucky enough to have missed it, please don't click the link or the image above. I will describe it for you. It is a video where a weird dude with a puppy walks up to a “random” lady who is totally OK with a weird dude with a puppy walking up to her and explaining that he is doing a “social experiment” (whatever the hell that is) about kids. The weird dude with the puppy is wondering if she would mind if he goes and pretends to kidnap her kid. Of course the lady, who is not freaked out in the slightest about this random puppy dude walking up to her, is ALSO fine with watching this guy THAT SHE JUST MET go and pretend to kidnap her kid. Of course she is. The guy, Joey Salads, who is apparently internet famous for making totally not set up/fake internet videos, proceeds to not only pretend to kidnap that lady's kid, but then shows us how ALL THE KIDS are easily kidnapped as long as you have an adorable puppy named Donuts.
So basically this YouTube guy is the Pied Piper, but instead of a flute he has a puppy, and the internet is now losing its flipping mind because a playground full of 3-5 year old kids are more concerned with puppies than they are with getting kidnapped. Sorry. I’m not buying it. I’m not buying that the video is real, and I am also not buying that a kids’ first and only priority is to be scared of being kidnapped by anyone who isn't their parent. Excuse my language, but that is total bullshit.
My kids are 3 and 5. When we go to the park, I know where they are. If an adult walks up to them and starts talking to them, they smile. I also don’t go running towards said adult and do a flying karate kick at their head to prevent the kidnapping that is totally 100% occurring. I keep an eye on my kid. I wait to see how they interact. Usually the other adult is saying hello, or introducing them to their kid. Now if it was some creepy YouTube guy with a video camera and a puppy, I might be a little concerned.
But look, in my opinion kids 3-5 years old shouldn't be out of my line of site anyway. At that age, it is my job to protect them. It isn't their job to protect themselves. Not yet. And sure, the world is full of dangers, but it isn't nearly as full as we think. At least that is what I thought... until our puppy-carrying, fear-mongering friend ends the video by saying that "700 kids are kidnapped A DAY." At that my jaw dropped. No way. No f’ing way. That IS a lot of kids. That is 255,500 kids kidnapped per year. A quarter million kids! That is roughly the population of Orlando! According to Joey Salads we lose an entire Orlando worth of kids every year!
So I did what I do when something makes me guffaw in disbelief. I Googled that shit. The Department of Justice in 2002 reported abductions by strangers at 115 a year. Granted, that is 2002. So either some strange zombie-kidnapper virus has slowly infected the population over the last 13 years causing normal people to become crazy, mindless puppy carrying kidnappers, and in-turn raised the kidnapping rate from 1/3 of a kid getting kidnapped per day in the US to 700 kids being kidnapped by strangers a day, a horrifying increase of 222,174%... OR Joey Salads is full of shit and just looking to make a couple bucks off scaring the hell out of us.
I know that kidnapping is scary. It scares the living hell out of me. Recently one of my most read pieces was all about my fears. Still, the chances of a stranger kidnapping my kids are incredibly small. Not small enough for me not to worry about, but small enough that I don’t think it is worth scaring the living hell out of my kids
From Freerangekids.com: “The Department of Justice reports that of the 800,000 children reported “missing” in the United States each year, 115 are the result of “stereotypical kidnapping” — a stranger snatching the child. About 90 percent of abductees return home within 24 hours and the vast majority are teenage runaways.”
And it’s not even that I am advocating for "free-range kids." Personally, I don’t plan on letting my kid ride the subway by themselves until they can at least afford a plane ticket to a city with a subway in it. I just don’t want my kids’ going through life looking at every adult as if they were an imminent threat to them. We recently had a kid go missing in the woods in Utah. An exhaustive search almost didn't find him even though he could hear people calling his name. Why didn't he call out? Like most of us, he had “stranger danger” taught to him his whole life. I don’t want my kids to be afraid to approach adults if they need them.
There’s got to be a middle ground, and that dumb video isn't helping anyone find it.
Here’s what I am going to do. I am going to keep an eye on my kids until they’re old enough to not go chasing puppies into the back of some YouTube Celebrity’s Pedovan. After that, I am going to teach them how to handle situations, not people.
I'll say things like, If someone asks you to go with them, what do you do? You come see mommy and daddy. If someone touches you what do you do? You come see mommy and daddy. If someone says hi to you at the playground what do you do? You smile and say hi back, because the world is full of amazing people, and if you run screaming from everyone who looks your direction, you’ll miss out on so much.
I am going to teach them to be kind to people and that most people are generally good. Because while I don’t want my kids to get kidnapped, I also don’t want them to grow up constantly afraid of things that will probably never happen. That’s my job, I’m a parent.
Think I'm wrong? Think I'm right? Let me know in the comments! And then don't forgot to come follow me on the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page. We have a lot of fun over there, and there are SO MANY PUPPIES!!