Breaking News! Red Alert! “EVERY PATROL CAR ON THE STREET IS LOOKING FOR THIS GUY”

Readers — This is a re-posting of a post I had to take down because somehow the video was corrupting my site. (It’s fine if you go TO the video.) Anyway, will you please watch this news report and tell me what is going on? A man in a pick-up truck calls out to a girl, “Come here” and this is the BREAKING STORY OF THE DAY? Every single cop car is ON THE CASE? The newsroom is scrambling its reporters to GET THAT STORY? The correspondent “rushed to the scene” of…a vehicle that isn’t there? What is this (media) world coming to? And how can parents NOT go crazy when this kind of story gets this kind of play?  – L

And, on the WordPress going kerflooey angle: Is there someone who can write to me at heylenore3@gmail.com and explain to me how come I suddenly no longer get comments coming directly to my email with a nice return address that I can just click and respond to? Instead, all comments are coming to me as FROM “Free-Range Kids” and when I click “Reply” I am now replying to Free-Range Kids! Argh!! L.

23 Responses

  1. So ridiculous! We had a similar incident in my town last year. A boy was walking home or waiting near his junior high after a sports practice. A guy in a pickup truck offered him a ride home, and the kid said no. I think the guy then offered to call a parent and the kid basically took off in utter fear, reported it to the police, etc.
    The guy in the truck? Was an assistant coach, trying to help out the kid!

  2. Yes well we live in a world where it’s constantly reinforced that “all men are bad”. Any interaction is viewed with suspicion and at the level – CODE RED.

    I wasn’t sure if there’s any facility here to share stories? There’s an article in Australia today about a man being asked to change seats because he’d been allocated a seat next to two unaccompanied minors (8-10 years old). Simply because he was male. And because it’s the policy. How embarassing for the man and sad for society.

    http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-incidents/virgin-defends-policy-of-separating-men-from-children-20120810-23y7q.html

  3. Must have been a slow news day in Glendale! Bonkers. As others have said, these stories seem to pop up every now and then wherever you live. A couple of years ago there was a ‘viral’ SMS that went across Bristol (UK) about a very similar ‘incident’ – a man in a van had spoken to a child, allegedly – and warning parents to be vigilant. This originated from the police and they eventually admitted they had no evidence of the ‘incident’ even having taken place. What we in the UK call a ‘storm in a teacup’!

  4. I like how the sidebar screams “attempted abduction” with a map – because that is the only possible thing that could have occurred.

  5. Recently a man stopped to ask a child at the bus stop if she had seen a lost puppy. When her vigilant mother saw this and came to investigate he took off, Of course alerts and warnings went out until a man called the police to tell them that he had stopped and was actually looking for his dog. . . .

  6. I blame the schools for this one, as a 15 year old, who is starting her freshman year this fall I’ve sat through lots and lots of assemblies about getting raped in the windowless vans with locks broken off. Last year, I only went to three assemblies, two of which were about taking “safety” measures that would greatly limit my life. My mother is a pain to be around when she talks to other parents,although not “free-range”, she isn’t as strict as her uptight friends whose lives work consists solely of diet Redbull and wagging fingers and always takes extra “safety” measures after seeing them. Oh joyous Suburbia.

  7. It sounds like they’re giving the tacit message to HopeEliz: “Remember, you’re the one responsible for whether someone attacks you or not.”

  8. Now day’s girls are not safe because afternoon and after evening some bad peoples are moving on road and they are using van or truck, if that time those are found a girl so they are definitely captured to she and misbehaving with her. Actually murder and rape those are very common or braking news on any news paper or news channel.

  9. The stupid part of this is, when or if they finally find the guy, there is NOTHING they can arrest him for. He didn’t try to grab the girl or lure her into his car so what type of laws did he break? Is it a sexual offense nowadays to merely talk to a kid? Most likely not but just watch, as a result of this incident, some local politician is going to introduce a law making it a crime for a stranger to talk to a kid without the parents’ permission. I’m a very patriotic American and proud of my country but Americans, both conservative and liberal, are getting just plane stupid when it comes to children.

  10. OK, wait a second. The tone taken here implies that an 11-year-old girl who reacted in this way did something wrong. No! Look at the free-range positives here. She was going somewhere alone. She had the sense to say “no” and get away from a stranger in a vehicle who told her to come close. When he persisted, she went to a nearby home (presumably a stranger as well) and told an adult who provided protection in case there was something amiss. What is the problem?

    I also think it’s good that they mentioned the red truck in the news, so parents can tell their kids to be aware in case he is going around looking for other kids. Nowhere does it say “keep your kids indoors” (at least not in the written article I read).

    Recently I was reading a few details about Jaycee Dugard, who was 11yo and came over to a vehicle when called. She was shot with a stun gun and we all know what happened after that. Of course that is rare, but the point is we want our kids to know what to do if someone calls them over to a vehicle, and this girl did the right thing and ended up safe without being smothered. I thought that was the whole point of free-range kids.

  11. As for the media’s behavior, yeah, that is nothing new. At least Nancy Grace isn’t involved yet.

    Say, is there any kind of boycott-ish behavior we can engage in to tell the media that we don’t approve of their fear-mongering? They obviously assume that is what the public wants.

  12. In the initial posting of this story, there were a number of readers who supported the police wanting to question someone who had told a young girl to get into his car. The police weren’t saying they were going to lock him up and throw away the key, just speak with him. Relax people, it’s a fair call.

  13. He never asked her to get in the car. He just called her over. Maybe his car was having trouble, or he needed to find a gas station. He told her it was okay when she declined to go near him. It’s entirely possible this was a 16 year old boy who thought the girl was his own age, or something like that. Some 11 year olds look 16. Walking into a stranger’s house, calling the police, and having multiple officers search seems a little too extreme for my taste.

  14. HopeEliz, if the girl’s creep radar went off, IMO she was right to get away and seek protection from an adult. It does not hurt him if he turns out to be innocent. Ignoring / failing to respect creep radar is anti-free range in my opinion.

  15. I agree that as an 11-year-old child, you may not want to get too close to a stranger in a vehicle. But too many people seem to assume the guy was definitely up to something. We’ve had several similar cases in my area over the last few years: a vehicle stops and talks to kids in a yard, then leaves as parents come out. Parents report attempted abduction. Even though the kids were never asked to go anywhere or do anything.

  16. I’m sorry but you just don’t drive up to a child walking along the street and yell “hey come here”…. Would you do that? Is this normal behaviour? No. Why would a stranger just drive up to a kid and want to have a conversation; that isn’t normal folks and I’m shocked no one seems to be addressing this fact. She felt threatened enough to seek help…. she did nothing wrong and everything right. I think there isn’t any harm in the police finding this guy and asking him what he was up to.

  17. It always used to irritate me when the group of papers I used to work for reported incidences like these as “attempted abductions.” It struck me as over-the-top and hysterical and I never had any success at trying to calm people down.

    SKL or anyone else, if you feel like it, you can always write a letter to the editor, call the paper’s opinion line, or leave a comment on their website. It may not actually change the way they report things, but it may get people thinking.

    MEP, no one is saying that this incident wasn’t weird. All we’re saying is that it’s as much of an “attempted abduction” as a guy walking slowly past someone’s house is an attempted robbery. Does it necessarily deserve this hysterical response by police and local media? I’m not sure. I can imagine a number of explanations aside from attempted abduction. Maybe the guy is out looking for a kid who broke something in his yard, and mistook this girl for that kid. Maybe the guy is a little mentally off and yells that at everybody. Maybe he thought he knew the kid. Don’t get me wrong, the kid did the right thing by getting away from this person she felt threatened by. Just not sure it warrants an APB and breaking-news treatment.

  18. I agree with you, Library Diva that this doesn’t warrant this level of media attention and I’m sorry I didn’t say that in my initial post !!! And several different scenario’s crossed my mind of what “could have” happened as to why he called the girl over to his car. My own son, many years ago was walking home from school and had a man in a car pull up beside him and ask him for directions…. my son was only 10 at the time and he really couldn’t give him any directions to where he wanted to be. He asked him from inside the car, window rolled down and never asked him to approach the car (he didn’t anyway and he did what I taught him and always keep far enough away out of arms reach) When my son came home and told me this I wasn’t too worried about him being a pedophile; but I thought he was a bit off asking a little kid for directions as they aren’t that well versed with that type of thing at that age. I just chalked it up to a person not using common sense.

    And I left it at that.

  19. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with what the girl did and I, for one, am not implying there was. I just think it’s idiotic that all of the media alarms sound and get every parent west of the Rockies in a tizzy over what probably is nothing. Kind of like the movie “Caddy Shack” when everybody in the country club pool panics and goes hysterical because they think they see a piece of poop floating toward them, but after draining the pool and evacuating the area, turns out that it was just a tootsie roll! Yes, it is not appropriate for an adult to be asking a young child to come up to their car for any reason BUT perhaps the guy was young and a bit immature and not everybody uses logic. So he could be perfectly innocent in the matter and did not have bad motives. So unless he’s a sex offender who violated his probation, there is nothing they can arrest him for. I just hope that all red pick-ups trucks in the Glendale area were not smashed with baseball bats after this story aired!

  20. Another thing I want to add here. If they do find the guy and they conclude that he’s clean and did not have any bad intentions in asking the young girl over to his car, I certainly hope the media has the decency and common sense not to mention or publish the guy’s name and picture! Otherwise, he’ll be another innocent person who falls victim to a witch hunt!

  21. MEP, the thing is that lack of common sense in asking a kid to come over to the car for innocent reasons does not *make* a person a predator. Would a person have to be pretty dumb to do it? Yes. Are there no dumb people in the world? 😉

    SHOULD a person have more common sense than that? Yes. But we should not convict-in-the-media or panic-monger over an incident that could be, based on what we know about it, anything from a guy with no evil intentions at all to a horrible predator, or anything in between. It should be reported as “what happened,” which is sufficient reason to remind people to be careful and make sure their kids know what to do, not as “what we speculate happened based on our assumptions about why a person would do this and how dumb he’d have to be to do it innocently.”

  22. I don’t know if this is news – but I consider myself free range, and I tell my children not to talk to people in cars that they do not know, and to tell a grown up if that happens.
    Actually, it was sort of cute – their cousins were at our house, and suddenly all 5 children came running in and the four year old announced “We just talked to strangers!” (Duly noted that this little girl has never met a person that she will not chat with at the first sign of any interest on their part in talking to her.)

    Turns out that some teenage boys (probably visiting a teenager on our street) had tried to ask them a question. The older children apparently did make some response and moved away (“We stayed in the yard!”) and they heard one of the boys in the car acknowledged to his friends that probably “little kids” who didn’t know them wouldn’t talk to them, and they drove off. Some of the adults in the group were “concerned” but we told the children we thought they made all the right decisions (stay in the yard, let an adult know who can evaluate the situation), and that it all worked out just as it should.

  23. I agree that our St. Louis (Glendale is a suburb) media went a bit overboard with the “Breaking News” spin on the story. Everything seems to be “Breaking News” around here, from searing temperatures to animal hoarders to Albert Pujols’ career decisions.

    However, folks around here may be a bit sensitive to child abduction, given our community history. In 2007, just two miles away from this street in Glendale, police rescued two teenage boys that had been kidnapped by a longtime area resident. It’s likely many blog readers saw the national news coverage of the stories of Sean H. and Ben O. Sean had been abducted and held for 4 1/2 years (yeah–YEARS) and Ben had been held for a few days before they were found. The kidnapper worked at a local pizza joint and was known to many people in the town. In fact, over the years, Sean had an increasing amount of freedom to move in the community, yet no one in his apt complex seemed interested enough to question how this boy came to be there, why he wasn’t in school, etc–although that’s a story for another day.The whole story seemed pretty darn incredible–and yet, there it was, right in our own backyard.

    Probably the greatest challenge to my free-range bent was to continue to allow and encourage my nine year old son to walk alone to and from school. Still, I wanted to raise an independent and capable kid and avoid depriving him of the fun to be had on the range—the same fun and freedom I enjoyed like looking for money in pay phones, buying candy at Ben Franklin, and riding bikes to the creek.

    So, while I LOVE to read about, even while CRINGING, at the crazy things that go on in the world at large with respect to parenting-gone-awry, this series of posts reminds me that it’s always good to consider “the rest of the story” (Thanks, Paul Harvey.)

    And thanks, Lenore, for fighting the good fight.

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