Strangers Won't Help a Child Being Abducted? Really?

Filed under: In The News

Oh, how morning TV cares!

Recently a friend forwarded me this fake abduction. It was staged for "The Today Show" about a year ago and filmed bystanders not jumping in to "save" the girl (actually a 7-year-old hired to act the part of victim).

Why is this the exact opposite of the helpful, insightful segment the show pretends that it is, while peddling fear and sensationalism instead? Let me count the ways:

1. The girl is abducted by a stranger. And yet, in reality, the vast majority of child abductions are perpetrated by family members, often in custody disputes. So already the story is misdirecting viewers' attention from abuse close at home to the much less prevalent stranger danger.

And let's remember that when we start fearing strangers, we yank our kids inside and lock the doors, leading to a loss of community involvement -- the very situation "The Today Show" is crying crocodile tears about.

2. The very fact that the girl is abducted is unlikely. Abductions are rare beyond belief. The FBI statistics we have say that about 115 children are involved in "stereotypical" kidnappings a year. (i.e. a child is kidnapped and driven off by strangers.) Compare that to the approximately 2,000 kids a year who are killed as car passengers. Why didn't "The Today Show" spend its six minutes truly helping to save lives by teaching viewers a lesson on defensive driving?

3. The scenario is unrealistic. In this "staged abduction," the child is just standing idly on the sidewalk in the commercial part of town when suddenly a man runs up and yanks her arm, saying, "Come on, get going!" or words to that effect. She yells, "You're not my father! Help!"

The problem is, because abduction is so rare -- and any abductor who chooses his victim in full view of the public is rarer still (and stupid!) -- it actually made sense for the onlookers to assume the child had eluded her dad who, upon finding her, was angry and grabbed her to take her back home.

Similarly, if I saw a child in the park yelling, "Help! I've been bitten by a lion! Help!" chances are, I wouldn't believe her. So rather than castigating these onlookers as heartless jerks, one could consider them parents who have had a bad day once or twice with their own kids, and know a thing or two about overly dramatic children.

4. If there were so many crimes like this happening all the time, "The Today Show" wouldn't have to stage them.

So at the end of this segment, most viewers are left with the idea that brazen kidnappers are abducting children off the streets willy-nilly, and it is only our callousness that is allowing this horrible crime to continue unabated.

Thanks for the enlightenment, guys!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.