Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Did he have an evil smile?

In our neighborhood, we often talk about how if any child is going to end up on a "missing" poster, it will be the brat in the backyard.  Last night it almost happened.

Some young man with short blond hair walked up to the brat and started talking to her.  She was, as usual, just wandering the neighborhood by herself.  A few seconds later, she was walking across the neighbor's lawn with him.  He wasn't dragging her.  She wasn't screaming.  They were walking along talking about soccer.

Luckily for her, our neighbor was in his front yard, as were all the neighborhood kids.  The neighborhood kids decided something was wrong as they didn't recognize the young man.  Our neighbor started talking to the young man and wouldn't let the brat leave with him.  While he was still trying to get some information from the young man, an older van with out of state plates came around the corner.  The driver yelled, "Get in" and they were gone.

A little while later we found out about the incident as the neighborhood kids came over to tell us about it. They wanted to make sure we knew so we could keep a close eye on the girls. 

The police know about the incident, but we don't expect them to find the young man.  Even with a description of him and the van, it will be hard for them to track down the vehicle without a license plate number.  It's all very generic for the most part.

Of course, we're all upset about this -- and yet eternally grateful that our neighbor stepped in. 

When we told the girls, we stressed the basics.  Don't talk to strangers.  Never walk away with a stranger.  Yell loudly "I don't know you.  Leave me alone" if a stranger tries to take you away.  They seem to understand, but I'm still worried.  They are much smarter and more mature (for six year olds) than the brat in the backyard.  Still, we know it can happen anywhere to any child.

As they were about to go to sleep, the blond twin had one more question about the bad man who tried to take the brat.  She said, "Mom, did he have an evil smile?"

I wish.  I wish it was that easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys.  Luckily our neighborhood is filled with good guys (and by extension good kids).  Otherwise we might be telling a much different story today.


Julie K said...

That's a little too close to home (literally for you). Thank goodness that neighbor was outside. I hope he had a cell phone and got a picture of the van (or at least got a plate number). We've had a few unusual activity reports in our town over the last few years (we have an automated call system that goes out informing residents of incidents like that), but nothing so close. Scary.

I was just talking to my son last night about strangers (again) and ‘what would you do if…’ scenarios. What if someone you don’t know asks you directions, asks you to help find a puppy, asks you if you want a cool baseball hat (candy, toy, etc).
Sometimes I think I’m overprotective, but then you hear something like this. How sad we have to have these converstations.

We’ve gone over the Stranger Safety video (www.thesafeside.com) with our son, I think I’ll pull it out again for a refresher. It was developed by John Walsh, the host of America’s Most wanted, who experienced the loss of his own child to a predator and by the founder of Baby Einstein.

You might check if your local library carries it (or even request that they get it).

Noelle said...

That is absolutely terrifying. I feel sick. I'm going to have the talk again tonight with my daughter about stranger danger. She was so shy when she was littler and we really pushed her to get over it, but I hope to God there's still enough real fear in her to make sure she never goes somewhere with someone she doesn't know.

Missy said...

That is way scary. Glad everything turned out OK.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Sigh... That just sucks. We try to let our kids be free and LIVE life and someone has to go and screw it up for everyone. I hope you talked to the "brat's" parents. Especially since she probably thinks she "knows" this guy now...