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To catch a predator

Never Say Yes To A Stranger

I plucked this from a youth non fiction collection of a small library.  Was ready to toss just because its old, but the content starting creeping me out and I kept thinking this was a bit too graphic and scary for youth.   This book is filled with kidnapping scenarios that would scare the wits out of anyone.  I like the idea of stranger awareness but this one is just too much.  Using photos, the author illustrates an actual abduction and resolution.  Very detailed.  Keep in mind I have only included about half the number of pictures, but you will get the drift of the story.

Young Hillary is walking home from a playdate when this man drives up and offers ice cream.

Hillary, of course,  gets in the car and the they go off to the man’s house to get ice cream.

Hillary has now figured out that this isn’t going well.

Luckily, even though she was locked in a room, there was a telephone:

Few more pages detail Hillary’s parents looking for her, brother depressed about his sister, and the police tracing the phone number to the address.

Remember,  I only scanned a few pages this particular scenario went on for about 18 pages and then had a list of all of Hillary’s mistakes in going off with the stranger.  There are about a dozen more scenarios with a similar theme and ice cream is usually the “weapon” of choice.  Not really sure what to think.  Does this type of material really work in thwarting kidnapping or creating awareness about strangers?


0 Responses to To catch a predator

  • Note to self: unplug phone.

  • She looks so calm and collected for a little girl who has just been abducted.

    • Pshaw. Modern kids are savvy. They’d need at least the promise of some video games to get in a dude’s car.

      Seriously though, stranger abductions are a pretty rare scenario, so perhaps using cliched exampled to convince kids and parents that it’s super likely is counterproductive?

    • Well, he did give her ice cream.

  • Do you get a person when you hit “0” on the phone these days? I guess when this book was published, “0” was a better bet than 911, which is everywhere these days, right?

  • I had this book! And look at me now, not reporting from a secret chamber underneath the shed.

  • What if the man luring you with Ice Cream is your creepy uncle, or weird neighbor?
    We teach our kids all about “Stranger Danger,” but there is a huge problem with abuse happening from people the children know.

    Plus…who uses Ice Cream anymore?

  • The problem is that most abductions are not made by strangers, but rather someone the child already knows, parents, relatives, neighbors, or other ‘trusted’ adults.
    … and I doubt most kidnappers would ask a child to just sit there while they went off to another room… unfortunately

  • Except most child abductions are by family members…

    I’m not sure what they mean about the number being on the phone. Did phones used to have the number written on them? I’ve never heard of that. And couldn’t the trace the numbers themselves in 1985?

    • When you rented your rotary phone from the phone company, there was a slip of paper underneath the clear plastic circle in the dial that had the number typed on it. At least in some places – I don’t know how common it was.

    • Most phones (at least in 1985) had/have a little plastic-covered slot where you are supposed to put the number of the phone. My mother always dutifully typed it out on the little card that was included and put it in the slot. I’m not sure if other families and/or kidnappers did that, though!

    • Phones did have their numbers written on them. In 1985 numbers could be traced if there was a reason to and it was set up in advance, but even then the line had to be open for several minutes. We’ve come a long way in technology since 1985.

  • Statistically speaking, Hilary has far more to worry about being in the presence of her mother’s new boyfriend than a random dude on the street. Toss the stupid book – educating children about abuse moved away from stranger danger over twenty years ago. (My father used to be a policeman, and he developed new resources on the subject in the eighties/nineties.)

  • Hilary’s a moron.

    • Not really, but the kidnapper/ped is a moron…you don’t leave kids you’ve gone to the trouble abducting alone in a room with a phone–who the heck has a land line anymore? (And yes Leigha, back in the day, a rotary dial phone had the number printed on a slip of paper in the center of the dial. Later in the late 70’s/early 80’s with the “trimline” phone, it was on a small slip below the hearing holes, and above the keypad.)

      Nothing about this book is valuable really. You want to give your kids enough information to have a healthy respect for what you’re saying, but not so much as to terrify them.

  • This would scare the shinola out of parents, most of whom are already way too paranoid about what could happen to their precious offspring if they let them out of their sight or, God forbid, out of the yard. Who is keeping whom captive these days?

  • This book was out when I was a kid, not too many years after the famous Adam Walsh abduction. Everyone was scared of having their kids abducted. There were events at the mall where you could get your kid’s fingerprints and vital information officially put on a card, to be used if your kid (or their body!) was found and needed to be identified. My parents had these dossiers on us, and it was a little unsettling.

    I most vividly remember a video we watched in school about “stranger danger” telling us not to walk with our arms crossed or our hands in our pockets, because some adult could grab us more easily! And they wonder why, as adults, the children of the 80’s are so overprotective of their kids!

  • This is a rubbish scenario. She meets a guy, he takes her for ice cream, then they go back to his house for a bit, then it all gets a bit awkward and she calls the police.

    That has to be the cosiest kidnap ever! More like an uncomfortable first date than anything else.

  • This was actually my go-to book on child abduction when I was a kid 🙂 I’ve always remembered it…as you can see, it makes quite an impression! Two notes after years of dealing with the weirdness:

    1. I read and re-read this avidly…I think it was a precursor to my current love of crime dramas on TV! I found it fairly fascinating.

    2. To this day, I get antsy about talking to strangers. I didn’t come out of this book with a healthy understanding of how to protect myself – I came out of it with an automatic fight-or-flight response whenever anyone I don’t know pays attention to me. Healthy balance, writers of child-abduction-prevention books! Healthy balance!

  • I would have asked her to play “movie star” then smeared her body all over with peanut butter.

    Do you have an Awful Library Book for that?

  • The thing that gets me is that Hillary actually considers for a moment whether or not the ice cream would spoil her dinner. Man, talk about brain washing. I’m almost 50 and that little mantra still hasn’t made it through my thick skull.

  • They forgot to add in the part where Hillary takes karate, and nails the guy in the groin before running off.

  • Child molester scare literature was just as big in the ’60s as it was in the ’80s. And yes, before the federal courts made AT&T give you the option to buy your own telephone, all rotary dial telephones had the number written on them. Not that that was done in such a way as to prevent your friendly neighborhood pederast from obliterating it.

    Totally aside from the question of whether such books are a good idea, it’s pretty clear that that one needs to be rewritten. The kid is more likely to have a phone in her pocket than to find one plugged into Uncle Pervy’s wall.

  • I’m not sure parents are too paranoid. In my neighborhood we have one badly trained pit bull, an equally crabby, and less well-contained nervous-biter German shepherd, a low-level sexual predator (the cop next door has arrested him more than once) cougars (rare) bears (rare) coyotes (common) and deer (nuisances) so honestly, what idiot would allow a 6 year old to roam the place without an adult handy?

    More likely the fears are misplaced. My favorite books on the subject are those “Gift of Fear” titles. My favorite advice: Tell your child, if she’s ever lost to “find a nice mommy” First, it has the child, not the potential predator making the selection. Most kid have a feel for what “nice mommy” means, and women are more likely to stick with the kid until reunited with parents rather than dropping him off with the ex-felon currently doing mall security.

  • I found this book equally creepy, and am glad to say that it was weeded from our collection at least a year ago.

  • Must. Have. That. Book.

  • Never say yes to a stranger…so what do you do if a stranger says “Don’t go with me”?

  • When I was a kid in the 80s, I remember special events at our elementary school where the school nurse or a special guest told us about stranger danger. The weapon of choice in the scenarios was always a candy bar. I didn’t particularly like candy bars as a young child because most of them had nuts. I remember thinking, “Well I don’t like candy bars, so if someone ever offered me one, I wouldn’t want it. I have nothing to worry about with these strangers.”

  • Well, in American English, you would say “no I won’t go with you. ” (Because one doesn’t answer a negative question with a postive. See song “Yes we have no bananas.” ) More likely the kid would say OK.

  • tell the kid to scream for ice-cream

  • well we all the solution for the kids,make ’em wear those dog collars and leashes,then they won’t go too far,and be near those creeps…

  • Gotta love traumatizing warning books! For me it was called, I think, “No More Secrets For Me”. All I got out of it was the notion 100% of stepfathers will touch you in bad places.

    //has a perfectly nice stepdad

  • When I was about ten, I was a school crossing guard at my elementary school, and I had a stranger pull up to the curb and try this scenario on me. He opened his car door and offered me candy for doing such a good job as a crossing guard. For just a moment, I almost stepped over to the car to take it. Instead, I came to my senses, stopped myself, and refused. When he couldn’t persuade me that everything was alright and I could accept the candy from him, he slammed the car door and drove off. I never told anyone about the incident, though perhaps I should have. While the danger of abduction or abuse by someone we know is more common, strangers obviously do abduct and harm children. I’ve often wondered if the man who tried to take me might not have learned his “technique” from an educational book such as this.

  • Little Hilary’s main problem is that the author of the book is not a fully-trained ‘situation book’ writer, but a novelist manque – ditto the photographer who has also got carried wawy with telling a story, not the point of the wretched book.

    Most victims of every kind of personal violation crime – from sexual molestation to murder – are, of course, in far more danger from members of their own family and family ‘friends’ than from complete strangers.

    Anyway, that’s the last time I ever accept ice-cream from someone in a passing car. And I was enjoying it – pistachio was the next flavour coming up.

  • I think it’s wrong to keep pushing this mantra about there being more danger to kids from people they know. Of course it’s true, but there’s no harm in reminding children that there are dangers outside the home as well. Two or three years ago, my six year old son was walking the dog and went a little too far down the street. A neighbor drove up and offered to bring him home and he got in the car. This neighbor was someone he didn’t even know, but who knew his name and said they’d take him home. He got in that car even after I’d told him my story about the stranger offering me candy. So I don’t know…on the one hand, I was grateful a good neighbor was looking out for him. On the other hand, that situation could have ended badly, too, if the neighbor had been someone else.

    • Way back in the innocent 60’s, I was about 9 0r 10 and walking with my sister, when a guy pulled up to ask directions. When I went to the window, I saw he was exposed and stepped away. He zoomed off around the corner–not lost at all! So, there are creepy strangers out there. Fortunately, my parents had drilled us in “Run up on a neighbor’s porch, bang the door, and scream!” Lucky for him it didn’t get that far! 😉

  • I definitely remember this book, more for the fact that the kid had the same name as me (in the pre-Hillary Clinton era when no one had ever heard of it).

    It’s interesting that she calls the operator instead of 911. I know not every area had 911 service in those days, but you would think that it would have been mentioned (“Hillary dialed 0 for operator because her area didn’t have 911 emergency service…”).

    I also grew up in the Adam Walsh era, when parents were paranoid. The other thing I remember being taught is that wearing a shirt with your name on it was bad, because then a stranger could call out to you as if he already knew you. (The line I remember was “your mom asked me to come pick you up.”)

  • Kids that are this age now wouldn’t know how to call any number other than 911, because all of their contacts are programmed into the menu of their cell phones so they don’t have to memorize them as we did as children.

    As for falling for a slick line from a stranger, “I lost my puppy” and “Can you help me with my bike, I have a cast on my arm” worked very well on grown women when Ted Bundy used it. How do parents today let kids leave the house??

  • This almost seems like more of a what-not-to-do as a kidnapper book than a how-to-not-get-kidnapped book…

  • This was my favourite book as a kid. It scared the living shit out of me, but I couldn’t put it down. I think I still have it somewhere.

  • I think the kid on the cover is either possessed or wired: “Thanks for the ice cream, Mister. Now just step a little closer….closer…Gotcha!

  • I had a don’t talk to strangers book.. it scared the shit out of me. This kind of crap breeds unnecessary paranoia, since as many people have said, abductions so rarely happen like that. Once I was walking to the bus stop and smiled at a cute kid with his mom and they acted like I was some creepy kid-grabber. Raising your kid with that much mistrust in people will screw them up!!