Stranger Danger - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Stranger Danger

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Every 40 seconds an American child goes missing, according to the Vanished Children's Alliance.  Only 48-percent are found alive, The Center for Missing and Exploited Children web site stated.  Does your child know what to do when approached by a stranger?

https://www.change.org/organizations/vca

I put two young girls to the test in "Stranger Danger."

http://www.missingkids.com/home

Elle Townsend, 4, and Anna Grace Barquelo, 5, were playing at the park.  Both their parents said they've talked to their children about staying away from strangers.

http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PubCaseSearchServlet?act=usMapSearch&missState=MS

"We've never just said it one time," Elle's Mom Katie Townsend said. "We always make a point to bring it up every now and then. I didn't today, but usually in the car on the way to a park, I'll just be like, 'remember don't talk to strangers.'  'If someone asks you to go with them, come to me first.'"

http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PubCaseSearchServlet?act=usMapSearch&missState=MS

"Last week, we talked about it really for the first time," Anna Grace's Dad Alejandro Barquelo said.  "We sat down and talked about if anything ever happens, 'I want you to feel comfortable to come to me and talk to me about it.' 'If anybody ever asks you to go with them, I want you to say no.'"

http://www.whlt.com/story/23887377/vaccination-debate

Our friend, Larry Miller helped us out.  Townsend and Barquelo agreed to let him approach their children to monitor their response.  They know he means no harm. However, this is the first time Elle and Anna Grace have ever seen him.

http://www.whlt.com/story/23950659/child-safety-car-seats

"Hey, come here. Come here," Miller called to Elle. 

She shyed away at first, but then a few words and she walked straight up to him.

"It's okay," Miller said coaxing her. "I know your daddy. Come here. Hey, I lost my dog. Can you help me find it, and I'll give you some candy. Come on, let's go."

Then, he tried to get Anna Grace.

"Can you help, too?" he called.  "Come on, I know your dad, too."

She also seemed afraid at first, but it didn't take long for her to change her mind.

The trio left the playground through a hole in the fence, and off they went.

"I was very surprised," Barquelo said.

"Sadly, I'm really not that surprised," Townsend said. "She's very social. I wish she at least had consulted me before just wandering off with a stranger."

After their parents asked them if it was okay to go with a stranger, they both said no.  They had talked with their families about stranger danger, but when put to the test, the children failed.

It took about 10 seconds to convince Elle and Anna Grace to talk to the stranger. In less than a minute, they had left the playground. A parent looking down for a quick game of Candy Crush could be all the time a predator needs.

"Don't take your eyes off of them," Barquello suggested to other parents.  "It only took a minute for her to walk off, and kind of surprising actually."

"The farther they get away from you, the faster they can stay away, so definitely keep close and keep a close eye," Townsend said.

Be sure to watch the final segment in this month's Child Safety Series Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 10.

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