"How to spot a predator." Really?

'How to spot a predator.' Really? Our free-range parenting expert sounds off on some parents' continuing 'stranger danger' fears of child predators.

Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star
"How to spot a predator." Really? Our free range parenting expert sounds off on some parents' continuing stranger danger fears of predators that lurk in parks and troll coffee shops for new victims. In an April 3, 2012 photo, signs and messages are posted on the front of the house and faded fliers are taped up on posts near the home of a baby allegedly kidnapped in Kansas City, Mo.

Hi Readers.

Still trying to figure out what part of this Circle of Moms post, "How to Spot a Child Predator," irks me the most. It’s by a lady who was at a cafe and heard a man asking two third grade boys questions like, “What’s your favorite subject?” and “Who do you want to marry when you grow up?”

He also asked them some math problems, so the lady immediately “understood” what she was hearing:

"…like a thunderbolt, it hits me! Those boys are being groomed."

How exactly did she know he was up to no good? She trusted her gut. And now she wants the rest of us to trust it, too:

"I wrote this so you’d read about the types of questions a potential predator uses so you can prepare your kids.

Please don’t scare your kids, but do talk to them. Use these, or examples like them, so your kids know what bad strangers ask."

Except that there is no evidence whatsoever that this was a “bad stranger,”  or that these are the type of questions a bad stranger would ask!

It’s like saying, “I would have been raped by the man in the grocery store today if I hadn’t realized what he was up to! So I’m alerting the rest of you: If a man ever asks, ‘Do you know what aisle the paper towels are in?’ Run! He is a bad stranger. Don’t thank me – I’m just trying to help!”

Uh…thanks. But no thanks.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Lenore Skenazy blogs at Free-Range Kids.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.