"“If He’s Got a Pecker, Run Like Hecker!” Good Morning America’s Hypocritical Advice About Stranger Danger”

"Free Range Kids By Lenore Skenazy April 04, 2017; 12:15pm

Last week a spokesman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children went on Good Morning America and told us to stop teaching our kids “Stranger Danger,” despite having rammed that fear down our throats for over a generation — a point I discussed in this post.

To demonstrate how important it is that children learn to approach a stranger for help, in case they ever need it, Good Morning America and the spokesman, Callahan Walsh (John Walsh’s son) staged a bizarre little experiment. They dressed a school stage like an abstract minimalist grocery store and then asked a gaggle of children who they’d ask for help if they were shopping with their mom and suddenly couldn’t find her. Would they ask:

a) A mom with a baby? b) A security guard with a badge? c) The checkout lady, also with a badge? Or — d) A guy.

Of course the children were encouraged to talk to everyone EXCEPT the guy…I guess on the very likely chance that any man in a grocery store will stop shopping for Doritos and steal a lost child, given half a chance. The instructions boiled down to this:

The paper notes that these laws have proliferated — “[a]t least 30 states and hundreds of cities” have them — because of some basic misunderstandings about how sex crimes are committed. There’s a collective American fixation on the creepy image of a sex offender salivating just beyond the playground fence, but that’s just not how things usually work. The guard, mother and clerk all had identifiable markers that signify a safe adult — including a badge, a baby and a name tag, according to Walsh. In a dire situation, a child should feel empowered to reach out to any of these strangers who possess the markers that signify they can be trusted for help.

Somehow wearing a badge or being female makes people good. But a man, even one just minding his own business, is simply not to be trusted, even if the kid is in a “dire” situation. So maybe the new slogan should be: “See a guy/Run and cry.” Or, “If he’s got balls/Jump the walls!” Or, “He’s got a penis?/Those are the meanest!” Feel free to supply your own mnemonic device.

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