As a parent, we drill the words, "Never talk to strangers" into our children's little minds from the moment we are sure they will understand. I remember as a child, my parents teaching me. It is a parents worst nightmare for their child to be taken by a stranger and never returned again. So, what would you do if your children were ever in a situation where they have to actually use this words?
Last night, at about 7:00, Conner, Megan, and Garrett went outside to take Rockie a walk around the neighborhood. Garrett is a speedy little guy. He was out in front of Megan and Conner by quit a ways. He turned a corner and was out of site. Conner was on his electric scooter, and Megan had the dog. Once Garrett got out of site, the two older ones decided to hurry it up. Conner turned up the scooter to catch up to his littler brother, telling Megan to catch up as soon as she could. When Conner turned the corner, he saw Garrett talking to a teen-age boy.... a stranger. He grew a little anxious and scooted over quickly to Garrett. The young man was out of his car with the trunk open. He was talking right to Garrett. As Conner got up closer, the young man turned to him and said, "Do you want some candy?" Conner replied with "No!" The boy asked again, "Do you want some gum?" Again, Conner said, "No!" By this time, Megan had joined the group. The young man asked her if she wanted some candy. She replied "No" as well. The kids grabbed Garrett and started to walk off. The young man said, "Come here. I can give you a ride anywhere you want." They kept saying "No!" As they were walking he said, "Are you sure you don't want some candy? It tastes really good." They kept walking. As they walked away from the situation, they realized that Garrett had taken some gum from him. Garrett also said the young man told him he was going to pick him up and put him in the trunk of his car. YICKS! They were very freaked out and came right home.
They told us the story. We were pretty freaked out, but very proud of them for saying "No" and getting home quickly. My thoughts were the young man was probably just playing a mean trick, but still, that was very mean trick to play on some young kids. Plus, it if wasn't a trick, I figured I should report it. So, we called the police. I made the report and they sent a police officer over to question the kids. Both Megan and Conner explained what happened. They were pretty good with descriptions. They told Officer Doyle the car was old and red. The young man was wearing a gray coat and looked like he had just been snowboarding or skiing. They knew what street they were on and the approximate location where the incident happened. Office Doyle was very proud of Megan, Conner and Garrett for having a great memory, but also for doing the right thing. Niel and I were both proud of them, and also very relieved they all came home.
The thought has gone through my mind many times, "Why did Garrett take the gum?" I am fairly certain that if this young man had been an actual kidnapper, Garrett would be gone and I would be telling a far worse story. I am extremely grateful both Megan and Conner were there with him. I am glad for their example of safety and how they handled the situation. This reminded me how quickly something can happen. Who would have known a walk around the block with the dog could turn out to be so dangerous. We live in a really nice, safe neighborhood. I am not saying something would have happened, but there is always that possibility that something could happen. This is something I don't ever want to have happen to our little family, or anyone for that matter. The point is, they made it home safely, which we are extremely grateful. We are also a little more careful and will continue to preach the words, "Never talk to strangers."