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Child abduction ‘prank’ shows how easily kids can be lured away

You think your child knows to not talk to — or walk away with — strangers. But a popular YouTube prankster put moms and kids to the test, and the results were pretty much terrifying.

JoeySalads, who is better known for pranking people for laughs than filming public service announcements, has opened the eyes of many parents with his newest video. In the clip, he approaches moms hanging out at a playground, introduces himself and asks how likely their kid would be to talk to him — a stranger. The moms insist their kids would come to them if approached, and he asks if he can put it to the test.

And he does. One by one, he goes to the children while clutching a super-cute puppy, which is what he leads his conversation with. “Do you like puppies? What do you think his name is?” he asks. And the kids immediately jump down and pet the dog, and they don’t hesitate when he asks if they’d like to see the rest of his puppies. They even hold his hand as they start to walk away.

I don’t know about you, but I felt pretty alarmed as I watched the kids walk away with someone they didn’t know. The fake abduction was super easy each time, almost effortless. There was no screaming, no grabbing, just a quiet exchange and a handhold, in view of other kids and adults who would think nothing of it. It was a definite wake-up call for these moms and probably everyone else who has watched the video — it’s up to nearly 900,000 views on YouTube and over 20 million views on Facebook.

You can use this as a teachable moment for kids. Show them the video, and explain that this is only one way a person can lure a child away from his or her parent. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, kids should be taught not only about strangers, but which strangers they can go to when they need help, like teachers, firefighters, police officers or librarians. Also emphasize that people can and do use things like candy, cute animals and promises of video games in their effort to kidnap.

You should also teach your child about other potential situations, such as being offered a ride home from school, being invited into the home of someone your child doesn’t know and the classic situation where a car pulls over and asks your child for directions.

Hopefully this video helped you realize that there may be a few things you should talk to your child about. And while JoeySalads may be a jokester, he did a good deed by creating this video, and for that, I thank him.

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